rogerd - 6:37 pm on Mar 4, 2013 (gmt 0)
I think traditional forums have lost ground to social media and blogs over the last five+ years. That doesn't mean they don't have a role, but user behavior has changed. People used to "live" in a forum - they discussed topics of interest, chatted about irrelevant stuff, etc.
Now, people tend to share really good insights on their blog first, and tend to "graze" forums more for very topical stuff. On other forums than this one, I've seen traffic and participation grow at the same time as time on site and pages per visit drops.
In my experience, threads with name-calling generate a burst of traffic and posts, but often harm engagement by higher quality members. Too much, and they leave forever to find an environment that isn't populated by jerks.
The member who's going to spend fifteen minutes crafting a patient, helpful, detailed reply to a clueless new arrival is almost certainly not the same member who's going to be calling people names.