[drafted as the conversation has progressed, so sorry if any thoughts are redundant.]
Dave, Genii Forum is probably a slightly skewed microcosm of any social group (the skewing accounts for the fact that this is, after all, a rather impersonal medium). Some folks are gregarious, some are not, etc.
I know some folks who enjoy stellar reputations in our little world who have decided not to participate in online forums, in large part because they dont think such participation would be a productive use of their time. Several years ago, I decided to join and participate in GF and The Magic Caf as an experiment to see what would come of it (fortunately, I didnt let the fact that RK promptly booted me off this board deter me :) ). Overall, Im glad I did, because Ive benefited from many of the exchanges, especially on this forum. Some of the folks here have been very kind to me with their knowledge and advice. So, no regrets.
Yet, if I were honest about it, Id have to admit that the vast majority of my posts here have not been really productive, if judged by whether or not theyve truly advanced the dialog on magic history and bibliography.
Ive come to the conclusion that this forum is mostly an extended social club. Theres nothing wrong with that, of course. Aside from expanding social contacts, there are benefits to an online social club: sometimes a really good discussion gets going which either nicely documents for posterity the way people think and the status of magic as an art (e.g., the kinds of issues we magi find relevant today), or, as in the case of the wonderful Erdnase thread, demonstrates that something really magical can happen when knowledgeable and thoughtful folks choose to work together and share what they know and engage in civilized debate which helps to vet ideas.
My two cents