First, I’ll second @dnebdal 's comments regarding BB being less now, and the low threshold of having in-page comments, vs. a forum. The low threshold was a key BB characteristic, IMO. (I am also one of the ones who used to enjoy reading the entire long comment threads, not that that isn’t still possible in a forum format.) I personally don’t get any enjoyment out of reading a bunch of disjoint select comments, as the context of the conversation is gone. (It then becomes very twitter-like, where everyone vies to post the perfect one-liner, so they can get ‘nominated’ to the main BB page. Ick!)
Ah, but this is where we differ. The thing I really liked (and felt was unique/special) about BB was that it was relatively locked down in terms of discussion and commenting (and very tightly moderated). The restrictedness was a good thing, in this age of free-for-all, rambling forum discussions. Sure, an individual thread could wind its way in and out of focus (which was part of the fun), but it was limited to that.
As a reader (speaking for myself), I honestly don’t want people to be able to talk about whatever the heck they want here, especially if it’s off-topic from the article. As I said, there are already enough places on the internet for that sort of thing. Go there and vomit new threads all over a forum. BB to me was always a peaceful place to get away from all of that.
I relished the narrow focus of a single comment thread per article, as it was just the right amount to digest. What was a nice, relatively quiet local farmer’s market has now become a huge cacophonous commercial supermarket, and I don’t want to sift through hundreds of products I don’t want (or be subjected to a list of ‘notable products’ that are recommended by the management) in order to get my shopping done.
I see where you guys are coming from, and where you’re trying to take things. And it will likely be successful in achieving your goals. However it won’t be ‘BoingBoing’ to me anymore, as something is definitely lost in the transition. (Which I honestly don’t see why it has to be, as in-page comments and a separate dedicated forum could easily coexist in my mind. Why not have both?)
(And even though we may differ in opinions, thanks to all for the polite discourse.)