The fact that premium services are now in the mix leads me to believe that money is an issue.
Unnecessary page loads are often a tremendous drain on server resources. I suggest the "facebook" inline editing model should be adopted. Instead of an entire page load for every mouse click, an XMLHttpRequest (AJAX) script could submit and refresh content without much wasted bandwidth.
Furthermore, inline editing and AJAX-driven content are elegant features.
Many long-term users here have a sentimental attachment to the old visual style. But friends, it's time to box up your bell bottoms and send them to the Salvation Army. This site's table-based layout is circa 1990's. For this forum, which is intended to demonstrate web mastery, to look haggard and frumpy sends a rather contradictory message.
Why are we discussing cutting-edge technology information inside an obsolete table-based layout, with deprecated <font> tags, <link> tags, element attributes, <center> tags, among others, and CGI (Common Gateway Interface, which puts a tremendous load on the server)?
Aesthetic appeal is extremely important. The Facebook model demonstrates this, yet maintains a minimalistic, utilitarian look & feel. I personally hate Facebook because of the frivolous and useless conversation that proliferates therein.
Why update the look & feel? Well, I decided to try out a new restaurant today. The food was tremendous, but the decorum was less than desirable. The furniture was mismatched, the color scheme was gaudy, and the service was confused and unorganized. I'll probably go back again, but there are several other, better restaurants which have the full package.
For someone to walk in off the street and see that crap hole of a restaurant, they might be tempted to turn around and walk out. Click the back button...quick!
Aesthetics are vital for the survival of a website in the new millennium. All of you seasoned webmasterworld veterans need to understand that the site owners want new visitors...and it isn't going to happen with lava lamps and shag carpet.