I've been gone a while, but I can say that MDC HAS changed a LOT over the past 5 years or so, and is part of the reason I am rarely here anymore. As others said, many moons ago there wasn't any advertizing on the forums AT ALL. They went from some ads that the mods and admin claimed were carefully selected to now splattered all over everything. I'm looking at a Cheerios one right now. While I don't have anything personal against Cheerios, it's not excatly a "carefully selected ad", which illustrates the progression of the ads here. The trading post used to be that- like an MDC freecycle. Now, there is a large portion of commerce which MDC takes a cut. Many moons ago the boards were smaller, you would recognize certain posters, etc. The crazy UA was enacted, important voices of respectful dissent left, there was some crazy veil of secrecy over some things... But, there was still a center core.
When the magazine folded, I think it eliminated an important "gateway" to the boards. The magazine was, in essence, a print version of what the boards discussed and gave a structure to that. The boards were an extension of something we could hold in our hands, that took commitment to read. Now, the boards stand alone, with no real foundation of thought. The website is here, but let's be honest. Its not the same. At all. So people get tossed here from other places and without an organized, clear, and strong foundation.... Well, ya get all kinds. Not everyone on the boards got the magazine, but the connection was tangible. And, I think there is a lot of frustration with the magazine's end, which didn't lead to those readers who were really invested in the organization to feel super about all of it.
Its "bigness" also dilutes recognizable voices (except in very specific topic areas) for more general discussion. Our wise, experienced moms get drowned out by the new ones finding their way, disrupting the cycle of learning. On an on-line forum, unless you recognize the user name (which has much less mental "umph" than a face!), it just looks like another post. Having grown so big so fast... we can't "see" each other anymore.
My other frustration is this- the ideas and discussion are really driven toward babies and young children. These discussions need to go on, but I'm past the "cloth/disposable" chat, I've been nursing for 6 years straight, etc. Once you kind of move past that, the amount of relevant and intreresting general discussion drops dramatically. There are specific avenues- schooling, other interests, but the more engaging and mind expanding ideas in open forums is nil.
Look- when your goal as an organization is to just get bigger, you are going to loose your uniqueness. If your goal is attracting and keeping people who don't really share these ideas as a value, then "mainstream" is inevitable. I'm not talking about newbies who are just at the begining of the journey. I'm talking about people who are looking to communicate but are not really interested in the underlying principles. I really don't know how mods are supposed to make that call- someone saying "I was spanked and I'm fine." Might be someone who is re-evaluating that position and needs to "try it on" to hear the comments back which aid their growth. Or, it could be someone who really doesn't care and has put that out there because that is their experience and isn't able or interested in seeing other ways and genuinely thinks it's fine.
I wasn't down with the super-harsh UA. I felt it stiffled important discussion. But you're already working on a loss of visible core with the magazine gone. Without more voice from mothering, it will turn into just another "big board."
On a personal note, I also don't feel like coming and reading a choppy, internet-ese loaded story riddled with holes in logic which degrades quickly into cruelty. I've always appreciated that mothering parents were intelligent, thoughtful, expressive, and dedicated. It wasn't internet trash. I truly hope that doesn't happen :(