Well, you asked. (I'm not sure why other than I'm registered here. I rarely log on - I mean not for years at a time). But that never stopped me from spouting off, so thanks for asking, and here goes. ;)
And by the way, congratulations on building one of the great communities on the web.
However, taking a quick look around at some of the threads here, there is obviously little point in suggesting new ideas. Just look at the posts.
The old timers, the WW Mafia, you gotta love 'em. They have an answer for everything, don't they? They always have. And it's their way or the highway. Now, that kind of bs may have been needed years ago when this place was just getting started. It created some "culture" in the Wild Wild West, but that time is gone and the rest of the world has definitely moved ahead and beyond WW. And today, the idea killers are going to kill you. But they will hang on with more ferocity the more you try to change things. So beware.
Perhaps your best bet is to simply keep this as it is so the old farts can hang around here and congratulate themselves. They'll think nothing's changed and while they're busy not looking, you will very cleverly launch a new platform in a new place that meets contemporary standards for everybody else and hopefully the old timers will be so busy enforcing rules they'll never catch on to what just happened and never venture over to the new place.
As others have suggested, look around at TW, FB, LI, blogs, buzz, YouTube, Experts Exchange, Iphone Apps, the open web, open social. And look ahead and think through what's likely to be coming down the pike next. Take the best of the rest and build it in. Steal *their* ideas for a change.
Think through who the stars of the show are (hint - it ain't the old farts and it ain't the moderators and it ain't the WW Mafia).
Analyze why people come here - is it to learn (and from experts or from each other?), to solve a problem, to share, to connect, to give, to take, to lead, to follow, to promote themselves or a client -- or?
Think about whether SEO is alive or dead. Let's face it, Google came to PubCon. The wolf was let in the henhouse. I saw with my own eyes MC doing what amounted to spying on Yahoo and SEOs in 2002, ethically of course, but spying none the less. He soaked up all the tricks revealed at PubCon and then low and behold, along came Florida. And he's still at it. Every year there is another PubCon and every year there is another update to Google. Sites using the tricks discussed at the latest PubCon are soon cut down in the rankings like trees in a logging operation after Google catches on. The jig is up. Google is on to everybody's tricks. Whatever little compettive advantage you can think up, Google can systematically dismantle and penalize in the next algo update.
And as a result, the sad truth is, in all likelihood, the days of SEO itself are numbered. So look ahead and ask yourself how does WW fit in, in a post-SEO world?
And instead of focusing on controlling everybody with a bunch of bs rules, think about how you can create a platform that enables people to do what they're naturally going to do anyway. How can you be an enabler of that and not a throttler? Figure that out and you'll have another winning formula.
Or what the hell, just wait a few more years and forums will be cool again and the world will be amazed that you have been here all along.
Well, you asked and that's what I think.