I don't think the new format is the main culprit either. It may contribute to it, but the decline in the forums is due to several factors - various forms of communications such as Facebook, Group Texts that don't cost anything, lack of new members who aren't selling anything, existing members are 10 years older and probably drinking and buying less, etc.
As mentioned in previous threads, I've met some great folks here and developed great friendships. It does take a certain thick skin to get over the initial flaming especially back in the day. I still remember Parcival getting hauled to the online Guantanamo for <gasp> selling mailing list bottles at cost. Classic thread.