See, there's actually plenty of people still here. We're just slow. This isn't Twitter after all. As the resident modlurk, I don't post much but I do read every single post. I've been a bit behind recently because of travel stress, but I'm caught up now.
I have a few theories on why CAA is less populous than it used to be. The most obvious is the whole theological discussions experiment that happened a while back; some people left at that time because they found that the site wasn't what they wanted it to be. But that was only a small part of a long trend. People were gradually leaving before and after that too. In large part, it's just the natural process of people coming and going, and the new generation of people aren't as committed as the old generation.
I think perhaps the biggest factor is just that new-fangled "social media" like Twitter and Facebook and tumblr have reduced people's needs for web forums in general. Personally I'm not sure what to think about that. The new generation of social websites is a lot faster paced and more public, which makes it more engaging and less rewarding, in my opinion. But, times are what they are. The fact is, a lot of people don't really want that deep of social interactions. In this time period where we have easy videoconferencing, more people use plain text to communicate than ever. But, I'm hoping that there will always remain a small cadre of people who are tired of the fast fire-and-forget attitude of Web 2.0, who want something a little more thought-out like a traditional BBS like this.
If this is the case, that means that if we want CAA to be helpful to people, we should let it be what it is, and not try to compete with the social networking sites. I'm particular, we don't need things to be fast If several days or even weeks go between posts in a particular thread, there's nothing wrong with that. The other thing is we don't need to be hyper-public like the social networking sites (that is, we don't need lots of members for the sake of having lots of members). Social networking sites work because of the exhilarating feeling of having your posts read (theoretically) by a bunch of people real quickly. We can't compete with that kind of emotional bait, so we shouldn't try. If just one of you reads this post front to back and gets some good out of it, I will be satisfied.
My other theory is more specific to our domain of discourse: anime. It used to be in the bad old days that the only way to watch anime in English was through tapes and DVDs (and laserdiscs, if anybody remembers those), either fansubbed or licensed. Then came high-speed internet and in particular fansubs that would release their episodes as quickly as possible as they were aired in Japan. I think that this may have caused a bit of a cultural gap between the people who watched fansubs of shows as they came out, and the people who couldn't watch fansubs (for either technical or ethical reasons) who still watched shows through DVDs at whatever time they bought them. The former people were much more into whatever was new at the time, and the latter were more into older stuff, naturally. The rise of crunchyroll and other legal simulcasting sites has helped this problem a bit, but it's still the case that people who pay for a subscription generally see the episodes a week ahead of those that don't, which is enough to put some tension into Lets Watch threads and the like.
So yeah, all those things together form my take on what's been going on. It's a long-term view of things. On the short-term, our beloved admin Mithrandir is still having s lot of problems at his workplace. I think he's actually looking for another job nearby at this point; that's how bad it's gotten. Unfortunately he hasn't had the leisure to update the site's creaky software from an old beta to the latest vb version. But more importantly, I think, it makes a big difference in atmosphere when the owner of a website is around to talk to people.
So those of us here right now are those who are in for the long haul. It kind of bothers me when I hear people say things like "CAA is dying" or "CAA is dead". There's a meme going on in the modern tech culture that that which is not growing is dead. But this is just not true. There's no logic behind it. There are some kinds of plants for which it is true, sure, but it's not true for humans and animals and many other things. Most importantly, it is not true for communities. A community is dead when it has zero members. Okay, maybe less than three might do it, but you get the point. We are much smaller than we used to be, yes. We are slower than we used to be, yes. But we are far from dead, and God help me if I'm going to passively let the modern world's obsession with newness starve yet another perfectly good thing.