It's pretty simple really.
A huge chunk of the posters left when they didn't like the style of moderation on this board. Whether or not they had a valid complaint is inconsequential at this point.
Message boards need a little conflict and drama. It's actually good for everyone. The problem is that there is a fine line between the right kind and the wrong kind of conflict and how to manage that. It's incredibly tricky.
Not to sound like a negative nancy, but I doubt there is anything that can be done to bring this place back to it's golden days. People have just moved on.
Everyone is posting about the Blues at either tippingpitchers or hockeysfuture. What's going to bring people back? Free beer?
Well, a huge chunk of posters were leaving before the "style of moderation" changed. The vibe the forum was starting to give off was nasty. Folks were taking liberties and really pissing a lot of posters off, purposely driving off new members, offending many long time posters with offensive/abusive material & comments, etc. So some left because of that and then some were banned in response, and some others didn't like that response so they left, and others then left because of the fallout. It was a combination of stuff...but honestly, the moderation tactics were an attempt to try to save the forum from the slippery slope it was on. Hollywood was a mod at the time and he was on board with those decisions...but over time, misinformation was spread by folks who didn't know the whole story and all people think happened was we decided to start moderating like crazy for no reason...and that simply wasn't the case. That's the truth (no matter what anyone else wants to tell you)...not that it matters anymore though. Water under the bridge.
I agree that message boards need drama, conflict, etc. It drives conversation and fosters debate...but you are right, that fine line was severely crossed by some of the users back in the day. That was overly nasty and it drove off far more users than it brought in.
But bringing people back who used to post here shouldn't really the goal. Sure, it would be nice to bring certain folks back, but getting more traffic, wherever that traffic may be from, should be the goal. New users, old users, etc. Blues nation has tons more contributors than just the handful of folks who left. Bringing in new users is a much more realistic goal if you ask me.
Free beer works for me. Who is buying?