Given the number of LEO and media who do visit this forum, I can well understand John and Mike's reluctance to allow things to wander to far afield. The longer I have been here the more I have come to understand their perspective on that issue.
On the other hand, given that I am not in a geographically desireable location in relation to most of the membership I get frustrated at the inability to just talk about "stuff" with people on here I want to get to know better and cannot meet with in person. Most of the VA and PA members have had opportunities to do so. For me to attend an event where I could meet several other active members would entail a 12-15 hour drive, $400 in gas and hotel expense.
As such I have been pondering this quandry for a while and have an idea: If WowBB is capable of it, I would like to see a private, hidden forum only available based on certain criteria. I have been a member, mod and admin on forums with this set up. Usually the private forum access requires at least a minimum post count for access, typically 3-6 months of average posting for the board, and a minimum time of membership in the 3-6 month range. Around here I would think the minimum post level would be set around 150 posts. Admin/mods retain the right to not admit at the minimum if most of those 150 are postwhoring. In other words, you have to be pretty much a regular for at least 3 months to be granted access. That eliminates the lurkers, trolls and hit and runners from being in there. From my experience, such hidden forums are loosely modded if modded at all and have no topic limitations, excepting that any NSFW material MUST be clearly labeled as such in the thread title or you get booted out of the private forum, and the normal rules about personal attacks and such apply. Most forums have such places for forum staff anyway.
Now, while I think that is a great idea, here is the sad part I also thought of - what if OCDO already has such a private forum and I just haven't been invited in