What happened to the "club atmosphere" of Audiogon?

Hi Goners!

After 12 years as a member hear i have developed some questions based on my observations of Audiogon in the last four to five years...

When i joined it was a fledgling group of "music lovers" who now brand themselves, quite often it seems, as "audiophiles"! [ whatever that REALLY is...:-)
The boards were helpful, very helpful and almost never negative but like a brother [be it older or younger] discussing the finer points of a product,company, design etc...

It was known that you could score wonderful, WELL MAINTAINED audio and video products sold at a fair price and with confidence that the person who sold you that item would stand behind it!!

It was the CULTURE of Audiogon that made it so very special to me, in fact it has been on my radar every day since i joined!

I have been a seller, buyer, trader, cartridge seller and have noticed disturbing trends:
Seems if anything is mark "USED", even 5 minuted old, it should, at best, garner only 50%
Lowball offering has become rampant here,trying to then add insult to injury by asking the seller to pay shipping!
Nasty,curt e-mails without any simple courtesy and professionalism...Now i am painting with a broad brush BUT all of these negatives , and more i will not go into from this vein, have reduced this site to a "virtual close out Wharehouse" of close out merchandise or find your ads not even getting a question about your ad!!

I for one enjoy the banter with long time posters, some of who have earned my respect with they're
 witty yet insightful comments...

Has anyone else felt Audiogon's best days have come and gone if we follow the present template?
Thanks and keep the responses civil and helpful please!

All good Goners - A friend of mine who is a partner in a cable company near by expressed his frustration on this topic to me. He's considering exiting audio due to concerns expressed above. He is one fine human being IMHO. This makes me sad... I LOVE AUDIO! And I love the person-to-person market AudiogoN has developed. Our audio culture is WHAT WE MAKE IT. My 2bits is let's all conscientiously pick up our approach here as we can. Thanks to all the people who have added their intelligence, wisdom, and experience to this fine forum!
Interesting discussion. I’ve been buying through Audiogon for many, many years. My time with the forums has always varied regarding whether I was in upgrade mode. I could go many months without logging on. In fact, during one of my hiatuses my membership was somehow lost. I’ve never been much of a poster though, more of a reader. Always found the knowledgeable posters a little intimidating to interact with – especially recently. There are some really expert members. Also have valued the music and recordings reviews. The nasty posts I’ve always just ignored.

Audiogon has really helped me assemble systems (CJ, Vandersteen, Rega, etc.) that have let me listen to my real obsessions – Coltrane, Bill Evans, Dexter Gordon, Keith Jarrett, Jerry Garcia, Stevie Ray, Clapton, Santana, Allmans, Buddy Guy, Stones, Beatles, Zepp, Bowie, The Who, etc., etc. Thank god for the wonderful knowledge-base on this site.

Seems if anything is mark "USED", even 5 minuted old, it should, at best, garner only 50%

Umm, welcome to the rest of the world.  Why should audio equipment be much different?  Some of the prices people expect for 5-10 year old "high end" electronics can be quite ridiculous.  Don't hate me, I'm an "audiophile" too, but I'm also a realist that doesn't have a double standard for my own hobby.
A few years ago, the "financial partners" in this site decided the site should be making more money.   Nothing wrong with that, as a goal;  the times were changing.  The simplest way to achieve that end would have been to raise prices, right?  Increase the price of the ads;  maybe put them on a sliding scale tied to the advertised price of the item.  And perhaps add a small annual membership charge.  Unless the increases were outrageously high, no one would have objected.  And no one would have left the site in disgust.   But that's not what happened.

The partners didn't understand the "club" culture of the site, nor had any of them interacted with the members before then.  They imagined they could be the "eBay of Audio".  And it never occurred to them that Audiogon was, in fact, a club  (or that eBay was not a club!)  So they decided to follow the eBay model:  specifically, they would make money by adding a fee to every transaction, and (in the beginning) never considered raising the ad prices or charging a membership fee.

As a result, it became necessary for the owners to micromanage the members' interactions;  to make sure they didn't communicate privately or make deals without telling Audiogon;  just like eBay does.  When the fellow who originally conceived Audiogon balked at that approach, they forced him out (like when Steve Jobs, the 'soul' of Apple, was forced out) and that was the end of the "friendly" Audiogon.

So there's no point in talking about the "different kinds of members", and how they behave.   People are people;  but the Audiogon culture is no longer genuinely warm and welcoming.  And many of the oldest members  --  those with the most knowledge, and the patience to provide the best answers over and over again  --  many of them no longer feel inclined to freely contribute their time and knowledge to what has become a purely commercial enterprise.  It's a shame, because it didn't have to go this way . . . . . .  
When a site grows it "normalizes", whether that's for the good or bad.

I'm new to posting here myself, and only doing so because of the recaps Audiogon sends to my email, but I have bought a few things here. I probably won't be a regular contributor, not because I sense any attitude, but because it seems to be a site enamored of subjective views. And I'm not. But other than that it seems pretty normal in tone.

As for low-balling, I'm not sure why people get upset over this. I have no problem with people trying to save money and test my price. All I have to do is say no and counter. It's not personal. It's not an insult. It's just money. Recently, I made a bid (about -25%) where the seller never responded. He probably lost a sale because I was willing to come within 7% of his asking price, but just wanted to see how much I could save. The item still sits there today and I moved on and bought it elsewhere. Asking for 50% off is silly, but not trying to get the best deal you can is pretty silly too.