I've been on SBM for 2 1/2 years and all I have to say is that I really enjoy this site. Sure, some members cause drama, but overall members here are pretty nice, even if they have vastly different opinions from mine. As for the newer members, I do agree that most new members are here just to talk about SpongeBob, which is not surprising. Yeah, it kinda irks me that some members never really expand their discussion boundaries since it shows that they haven't really discovered the other forums.
And I'll be honest here: I find it somewhat annoying that some members complain about SBM without contributing anything to the site. Of course, I hear members complain about how SBM is going downhill, even though this is nothing when compared to 2010-early 2012. We still get plenty of activity everyday, despite members losing interest or getting a life. Like if a member complains and doesn't do anything about it, they won't get very far in the SBM community, and they know it. It's their loss, anyway. I have no control over it.
Well of course people join to talk about Spongebob, this is a Spongebob forum. Most people aren't going join a Spongebob forum mainly to discuss about things that aren't Spongebob.
What decides whether people stay, however, is if they are willing to expand their discussion boundarys and try to become a part of the community to some degree. There's no problem with Spongebob discussion, of course, but if you don't expand your discussion boundarys, you're gonna get bored. Which is why so many new members leave quickly.
When you think about it, you join SBM primarily because you like SpongeBob and you wanna discuss the show with other members. Obvious point is obvious, I know. However, there are only so many topics and discussions you can have about this show, despite its long run, and as such you stay for the community. The site also offers several opportunities for members to speak of several other things not related to SpongeBob, which increases the appeal for the community and promotes the expansion of it.
I've been quite active on the forums here for a little over a year now, and I love it here. The community is great, and I've gotten to befriend many wonderful people. There's been drama here and there, with the site's fair share of ugly moments, but I'm still here, and loving every minute of it! I can't really say SBM feels like a "closed" community based on my own experiences; felt pretty open to me when I started regularly using the site last year. Depends on the attitude, I guess?
In regards to newcomers, it's all about integration. Just how well (or how willing) is a new member going to make themselves known to the already-established close-knit community? Besides, some people are content with doing their own thing and sitting on the sidelines offering their voice when they see an opportunity. But if they want to make themselves known amongst the regulars then that's on them. The established community doesn't do anything that would discourage newbies from being a part of their world; it's all down to how the newbies perceive this community and their ultimate judgment is whether or not they want it for themselves.
One piece of advice I'd give to new members looking to integrate themselves in the community, though, is to be active in the Nautical Nonsense forum area; it's a good place for members to get to know a bit more about you - and vice versa - in discussions unrelated to SpongeBob. From personal experience, there's never much to learn about others when going off what they're like in the SpongeBob related topics. It's mostly just opinions relative to the show in those (and rightfully so, might I add, but in regards to getting oneself some recognition, expanding one's range of topics is key).
All the truly amazing members of the site I can talk to through other means or have just left. The site has gone downhill in the almost 2 years I've been a member. It sucks. At this point I rep discord.
Everyone grows up and some of those members get tired of talking about SpongeBob because they get to know others and turn their interest to other forums, such as NN, The Dump, etc. I don't blame anyone for doing this. It's basically a part of growing up is getting tired of SpongeBob. It is what it is.
With that said, I think SBM has gotten better with Discord and other things that have happened in the last year. Sure, member count per 24 hours isn't as high as it used to be, but oh well. :dunno: