You raise some very good points.
When I joined the forum in 2004, there were very few members, and the focus of the forum was to teach people how to make pizzas in their own homes that rivaled or bettered what they could get in pizzerias. There was no other place on the Internet that did that. And the social media did not exist. For several years, I spent a good part of my time on the forum teaching other members about pizza. I ended up posting a lot because we had very few "teachers" on the forum. In my case, I had spent a couple of years researching the subject so by default I became one of the members who "taught" those who were new to the subject. So, my mindset has always been on the teaching component of the forum.
Fast forward, with the advent and growth of the social media, it was natural that a social component would creep into the forum. I personally have chosen not to participate in social media, even though I know the pros and cons of doing so, but I have come to accept that a social component for our forum is inevitable. But I look at the situation as one of balance. As I see it, if there is too much of a social component, people may be confused about what the forum really stands for. As it is, we have days where the number of posts that are unrelated to pizza is close to the number of posts that are related to pizza. I also understand that there are members for whom social contact in even a virtual setting fills a need or void in their lives. The fact that we have so many members who are decent, smart (and in some cases, brilliant), talented and caring strengthens that social compact. Some of that social compact has spilled over into the real world where members who got to "know" each other on the forum have gotten together in real-life settings and formed friendships and bonds that would not have happened without the forum. So, the value of the social component should not be minimized.
The Moderators and Steve have discussed the changing role of the forum. We have also discussed the role of the Chitchat and Off-Topic Foods boards. The consensus that we have reached is that a social component has become part of the forum's fabric but that the forum shouldn't stray too far off of its longstanding role of teaching people about pizza such that it unduly dilutes the purpose for which the forum was formed in the first place. In keeping with this, we also decided to leave the Chitchat and Off-Topic Foods boards alone.