I know this is long (and possibly controversial) Hear me out.
I know that a lot of thought and care goes into keeping Seasoned Advice from becoming just like any other internet forum. I have been thoroughly converted to this point of view after seeing what a great signal to noise ratio we get here.
There are two major ways Seasoned Advice is useful to me: The first is the intended one- concise answers to well encapsulated questions that are well indexed and easily searchable. This is good.
The second is trickier and much more valuable- A community whose opinions I trust.
In the context of StackExchange's strategy the word "opinion" seems to be a dirty word. Sometimes really phenomenal answers will cite credible resources- reputable studies or chef's or chemists whose research or personal experience can be trusted.
Usually though, really excellent answers are based on the personal experience or opinion of the user who answers the question. Sure- I can see that the community voted up the answer and that it was accepted but without a building trust in the community the votes are meaningless. Accepted answers are the worst- the person who asked the question picks the answer. Sometimes they are the least qualified person to do so.
The beauty of Seasoned Advice is that, over time, the community has shown that it consistently rewards people who know what they are talking about. Unfortunately this, by definition, is an averaging effect over time. Any particular accepted answer can still be completely wrong.
It is because of this that the track record of the user responding makes an enormous difference in how much I trust the response. For example- I know that I will believe anything that Roux says regardless of the answer's vote count because he (and many others) have demonstrated that they are not just pretending to know things. For me personally this trust in the community took some time to build.
There are a lot of good questions about cooking that do not have clear answers. They seem to be asked fairly regularly. Often I myself am inclined to ask some and have to bite my tongue. I wish that I could apply the trust that I have built in our community to ask questions like- "how would you go about preparing this cut of meat that I have?" There is no right answer but I care what your opinions are because I trust you.
I have seen the response to off-topic questions: "This isn't a forum; there are many forums; ask your question there" This is inadequate. I am not going to abandon my hard earned trust in this community and go searching again for some other forum community that I can believe in. On the other hand- if I did find a community that I could trust I don't imagine I would want to maintain active participation in both. Just to be clear- I like it here and this is not to be construed as a passive aggressive threat. :)
The community wiki was almost this but was awkward and didn't really fit. Meta has more relaxed conversation but obviously not about food. The chat doesn't quite work for me because I prefer the communication be asynchronous.
In the context of other internet communities a forum is the solution to this problem. Yes it would have a lower signal to noise but that is not as important for a conversation. If conversations there produced clear answers those could be moved to the Q&A just like questions for recipes could be moved to the forum out of the Q&A. The forum could be unindexed to keep from diluting the Q&A on Google.
So- In wanting this am I merely being overly sentimental and giving in to an ingrained human desire for sociability that I should purge from myself?
Is there a good way for me to get what I want out of this community that I haven't yet discovered?
Is it impossible because stack exchange wouldn't add a forum?