@DavidV: Do you have a way to communicate with the forum gods? The impetus to create the new community was, in part, driven by the rather sub-par front-end of the current community and, as I understand, back-end concerns as well (server maintenance issues).
Not to be glib but there is a simple solution to all these problems - it's called vBulletin (my personal favorite) or any of a number of off-the-shelf forum software packages, most of which are free (all you need is a server to run it on) and all of which are immensely superior to the current forum software, both in terms of front-end and back-end concerns. I would really like to relay this information to the forum gods but Olympus seems to be too far for my prayers to travel. Perhaps there is a Hermes who can carry my supplications? Can you?
One option under discussion is to revive http://www.austrianforum.com/
OK, but that site is independent from mises.org and so its future is inherently even more uncertain than the future of the forums that mises.org has been maintaining.
I just tried to check out the forum software that was being used on AustrianForums (so-called "Invision Power Boards"):
a) The IVP website doesn't even load anymore
b) It's not free software (if you're going to pay money, why not get the industry standard)?
The "regime uncertainty" surrounding the mises.org forums has been ongoing for a couple years now. It seems that mises.org has a great deal of uncertainty and apprehension about what to do with the forums.
Is it a money issue? If so, just create a premium membership, You will easily raise enough money from contributing members to pay for whatever operational costs mises.org is incurring by maintaining a discussion forum.
Is it a technical issue? If so, I'm happy to provide pro bono technical advice - if I don't know the answers myself, I can pull in someone who does. I'm just baffled by the waffling on the status of the forums given that LvMI is a straight-up professional organization in every other respect but when it comes to something so absurdly simple as Internet forums, there are a lot of difficulties. Internet forums are easy and inexpensive to operate so there must be a simple and affordable solution that will make the online community happy and decrease the headaches at mises.org.
I'm not going to address your other points just now, but IMO Invision Power Board is more popular and far better than vBulletin, which is more common on smaller forums. I've been using it since 2003. See http://www.invisionpower.com/
+ to ipboard. the post layout on those forums are way more streamlined and less convoluted.
There was also something seriously uncanny about the 'new community' in that the commentariat there never seemed to ever appear on this forum. It's like the Twilight Zone or something.
Any updates on the direction this forum is going. Is anyone working on anything, if so, what, and what's the ETA?