NOTE: I'm posting this as a personal opinion, not as a moderator, admin or whatever, if that means anything.
I never answered this question so far. It's hard to answer. As much as I tried to a few times I've never been much of a forum guy, and in recent times (like last year or so), disillusionment was the name of the webmaster game for me. So much spam is actually justified under a neat name of "blackhat". Stuff that violates my own TOS on my sites is advised to people on webmaster forums as if it's perfectly cool. Google worship has swallowed up the entire industry. Quantity has won over quality with crap like article spinners and super-cheap writers that have zero prior knowledge of the topic they write about. Crappy looking ads, with little concern for user experience. There's no soul in that kind of stuff, just an old boring, uninspiring grind.
The more a webmaster forum focuses on these things, the less appealing it is to me. So what is the one thing I'd like to see? Well, a breath of fresh air, fresh unconventional approaches to internet marketing at the core of which is providing real value "from the heart". Link building not through spamming and faking and grinding, but by creating something so compelling that it will "bait" links naturally. Our craft should speak for itself. And if it doesn't, you're doing it "wrong", or I should say, you're not really advancing the web.
I think I saw that little tidbit in the NetBuilders Philosophy somewhere, the goal of actually improving the web. I don't see it happening yet, but I'd like to. I have a feeling though I'm a tiny minority calling for things like this.
Tell me about giving away free stuff on forums.
I give lots of free stuff away.
And catch too much flak!
So I cut back quite a lot from giving stuff away.
People want free stuff, yet they want to gripe, whine, and just out right be rude about the free stuff.
Same here, you want free stuff from me?
Find it on my blogs!
For I rarely post free stuff in forums.
One reason to give away stuff is simply to drive traffic to the site/blog.
And as I am finding out by carefully looking at the visits, where the visitors go on my blog, etc....
I am finding out that this traffic is not at all interested in any ads or interested in buying anything (surprised how many will pm me or email me and want to know why I am selling something when maybe I should aslo give it away free).
Now I am talking about ebooks, software, etc. given away.
Now for free stuff like free magazines, free this and free that, coupons, good offers?
Visitors actually buy stuff!
Two blogs, only one actually makes money day after day.
At some point, I will quit being so damn nice and just stop giving away ebooks, software, etc.
Now the one problem I have with forums and webmasters in general?
That is when it comes to advertising on my blogs.
Free and they will gripe that it is not a page rank 4, or that there is no thousands of visitors per day.
Cost and they will not pay because again, too many webmasters want only free advertising.
Vicious circle there!
Case in point.
One advertising offer I have here and several other forums, only one forum so far has brought me paying customers!
Don't ask me which forum or if it is this one.