I suspect that, to some extent, we have become victims of our own success. Also, we've been experiencing a lot of "good weather".
With regards to the first point, we have done such a good job that many people now come here or get referred here from other forums and newsgroups. (Well, I'm certainly reading a lot of new names.) People come with the baggage of their prior experiences. At least I know I did. Indeed, I shall never forget my first post (a reply in an ongoing thread) here!
I remember being told firmly but politely that "That's not the way we do things here." (And, of course, the more I read, the more I realized that was true.) But that wasn't my initial reaction. At first, I thought "Oh, yeah, right ... , kinder, gentler world ... sure!") Let's try the old switcheroo: "Sorry guys, I was having a bad hair day, my wife just left me, and the dog ate my homework". Okay, now let's see how kind and gentle the place is. And, to my utter astonishment, the responses came back: "No big deal, anyone can have a bad day. Welcome aboard. And incidentally, you did have an interesting point in your initial reply, but ...." And, so I learned, it really was
a kinder, gentler world here at DSLR.
And I remember the many early times I tried to strike up the odd one-on-one social conversation within a thread (which mostly was just ignored). Indeed, when I first came here, I didn't even know that there were other forums here, I hadn't read the posting rules, and what the heck is IM anyway?
Now, with regards to the second point in my initial paragraph. We have, in all honesty, had a rather good summer -- very little in the way of catastrophic happenings. In many instances, I think the 'givers' come in, walk around, don't see any real crises. Some check a few threads because of who else has posted in them; maybe drop a witticism to let you know they're still hanging around and then head off on their merry way. Others just look, mostly don't see anything deserving of a response and just go back to doing what(ever) they do in the real world. So, yes, we are seeing a bit of social chitchat. We're seeing more socializing, witticisms, jokes, and cartoons than normal -- well, that's what happens when things get slow around the office, also.
But, if you look at the serious, substantive threads, I think you'll have to agree that all this gets dropped pretty quickly and people get back to business when this becomes critical.
Indeed, I suspect some of us are getting a bit uneasy these days. We keep thinking there's something new out there; we just haven't managed to localize it -- yet. So sometimes we (and I include myself in this) go off on wild goose chases and others can't help but make some sort of humorous comment about it.
Still, your post is a good reminder and it comes at a good time. No point in waiting until the whole place turns into a koffee klatch (or whatever that thing is).
Regards, Joseph V. Morris