Fair. I’ll try and enumerate the biggies.
I noticed on another thread there were several complaints that the block/mute function is essentially no longer a thing, at all. In effect some people who didn’t really get on well with others had them muted for sanity’s sake, that’s no longer possible. Discourse by design does not allow for user muting of any kind (even Discord which it’s based on doesn’t allow it in a proper sense unless you hack the client with a few lines of code) so that can make life unpleasant for people with low tolerances for people with nonstandard opinions.
Whilst this might seem like personal bugbear, losing pagination has cost us several people, because there’s a certain normality to having large threads decluttered into pages which you can actually read if you’re working through a lengthy thread, I accept this is a point of contention where you want shorter, more focused and accessible threads, and where longer, more meandering threads may not be the goal of the exercise, but that is a problem when it comes to forums where you have (or had) more activity.
Now the activity has most definitely tailed off and I get a real sense we’re at a point where we either make some decisions now (such as either tying the forum more extensively to the site or making the decision to put the old feller down). Or we watch the slow and painful death of something that was, at least up until the upgrade an, and I do accept small, but functional part of the site.
The preview box not functioning is more than a pain, it also creates follow-on problems with plugins such as Grammarly if you’re trying to keep your writing clean when setting up your post, it makes it guesswork when you’re using markdown styles, and effectively forces you to hedge on anything other than the basics when it comes to formatting your post, which really damages the ability to either explain or emphasise something that matters.
In vBulletin you could easily subscribe or unsub to threads and keep an easy track of stuff you wanted to actually involve yourself in, here there are bookmarks which are kinda the same but it’s not quite as granular and you have the nasty infestation of the likes system which doesn’t always promote good forum behaviour (Steam’s current issues with the “helpful” marks on reviews is a good demo of what happens when there’s no meta-moderation a-la slashdot)
Finally, as several others have either alluded to or highlighted, there’s a real sense of “unfinishedness” to the forum, and that I think puts people off, it’s individually all small potatoes, but weighed together it becomes a big potato in its own right. That I think comes from the fact that the new forums genuinely feel disjointed from the main site, there’s no longer any kind of sense of connection between the two, how to restore that is a riddle I’m not entirely sure how to solve. But it is a riddle that needs solving.
Had this been clearly announced (talking global stickies for a good month ahead of time) and had the vB4 archive been locked down but left readable for posterity on the basis that everyone would be given the chance to register and then over time could port their stuff into the new forums but with completely new databases and a fresh back end, I think that would have flown. It would have also had the benefit that it would have been much more enticing to newbies because it would have represented a clean break from the existing forum, so new entrants would have had a chance to make a mark on a fresh canvas.
As you already stated, the user count was dropping and you’ve stated that the existing forum was turning into a closed community that was slowly bleeding out. If you’re haemorrhaging blood simply putting a plaster on the wound is only a time-buying measure. Under those circumstances, perhaps something much more radical to inject new life into the forums might have been wiser, but that’s speculative on my part.
I’m trying to help, as best as I am able from my perspective at ground level.