We agree with that, but vBulletin has been a hindrance to allowing us to build the community where it needs to go for years! Making it more friendly is expensive, adding the features we feel it needs to help the community evolve is outrageously expensive and hard to maintain. The structure behind it is becoming brittle as we continue to get larger amounts of data causing server errors, etc.
It isn't simply the community falling around us, it is everything falling around us.
We have been trying to patch the leak for years. We have enough patches now that the boat barely has any metal left in it (I can't begin to tell you the large list of issues we have with the current software and ecosystem, but it is long and extensive).
On the contrary. We know how great of a community we still have and can have future going. We are working diligently to migrate the content over and the users to make a smooth transition (granted any new interface will be met with challenges; let alone a new system). We won't be abandoning anything, just giving the community a better chance to thrive and grow in ways that we can't with vBulletin. vBulletin has been a strain to allowing us to improve and implement community oriented goals.
Please take heart in knowing we didn't make this decision over-night but ultimately realized, we couldn't take the community to where it could thrive without getting off vBulletin. Don't forget to look up the success stories too, we are realistic. We know some members won't move with us, others will, and we'll hopefully continue to attract new members all the while.
Signing up and contributing/participating are two very different metrics. We'd rather have the latter. We see a TON of registrations a day that ultimately end up spam, banned for being bots, or just sit idle for years... We also see new members joining and asking questions, starting discussions, etc. I don't see that changing just because we've moved to a new platform and hopefully we can generate a place where we see more of the latter than the former.
Unfortunately, we can't disclose a lot of the reasoning behind the move. You'll just have to trust us that strategically, it makes the most sense for this community to thrive. That's really all we can ask, is that you continue to trust us.
We don't believe we are. We've thought about this long and hard and debated a LOT. We've looked at a few different products and found favor with Discourse for various reasons. Yes, it is a bit of a gamble, but there are certain amenities it provides that others don't and we won't feel restricted in how we build the community and what features we can add to it to help it thrive.
What we do know is the statistics have continuously declined for the past couple of years and we need to turn that around, otherwise, we will end up in a room alone (by just doing nothing, or sticking with a platform that we can't change to help turn us around).