This thread just came to my attention. I hope you mods are still monitoring it. I've scanned much of the suggestions and proposals in this thread and I have to disagree with almost all of them. j and pretty much everyone are approaching this from exactly the wrong direction. Stop thinking of SF as a community
and start thinking of it as a brand
. For example, one of the mods mentioned that they were thinking of evolving SF into more of a "lifestyles" forum. This is exactly the wrong way to go. Rather than turning SF into a more general purpose forum and, thereby, sinking into the general background noise that is the internet, you should be seeking to sharpen the SF brand. SF became popular -- and drew posters like Manton, Dopey, RJ, Medwards, Vox and, yes, even Foo -- because it was the best place on the internet to discuss men's clothing. (I don't spend that much time in SW&D but I assume there is a similar dynamic there.) If you lose that focus, you blur your brand and lose the very thing that made you a success in the first place. You will also become harder to distinguish from thousands of other sites and will find it much more difficult to attract and hold the high-quality posters that were an integral part of SF's success. There are lots of ways to deepen and sharpen SF's focus. Manton is bored because he seldom comes across anything new and interesting here anymore. But if you were to ask him point blank, he would be the first to admit that there are huge areas about which he knows very little. I can offer a couple of examples of the kind of thing I am talking about from recent SF history. Operation Paprika comes to mind. There is an entire world of Central European shoemaking about which most people know very little. Vass gets a lot of discussion but there are unexplored worlds beyond that. Or consider things like leather goods. There has been inordinate discussion of big brands like Hermes but very little about smaller brands, some of which are true bespoke operations. I accidentally ran across this thread that discusses two I had never heard of but I am keen to explore, Peter Nitz and Ethan Koh. Perhaps Manton hasn't heard of them either -- but I am dead certain he will be very interested to if he has not. http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=75818&page=2
For another example, I do recall some slight discussions in the past about specific tailors in Italy. But there is huge, undiscovered area here for exploration. Even small Italian towns often have tailors and some of them are excellent -- yet the only name everybody really knows is Rubinacci. It is true that most of this stuff is for connoisseurs. But the high-value posters here are
connoisseurs and the rest of us would like to be. SF already has the reputation of being the forum for connoisseurs of men's clothing. You should build and sharpen that reputation, not dilute it. Focussing on SF as a brand also helps you answer many questions on how best to moderate. You need to have sufficiently relaxed rules so that people feel comfortable and spontaneous. But posters and activities that dilute your brand need to be discouraged. AAAC provides an excellent object lesson in what and what not to do. Their sometimes heavy moderation discourages spontaneity but they allowed posters like Cruiser to dilute their brand by effectively mixing a late-middle-aged version of SW&D with their tailored mens's clothing forum. The point here is that the SF brand should not be managed to please the current set of posters but to preserve the SF brand. If you do it correctly, you will find that over time there is little conflict and that the posters you attract will be very pleased by your intelligent brand management. I don't say that this will necessarily be easy and some ideas may be impractical to implement. Obviously, it is more difficult for a bunch of english speakers to explore little known Italian tailors than it is to dicuss the current sales on Jermyn street. But, easy or not, this kind of thing is necessary if SF is to continue as the premier men's clothing site on the Internet.