Unless there is someone or a team who’s highly focused on building a community, the community isn’t going to magically appear. SEO gets a site eyeballs, but it doesn’t say what kind of eyeballs. The one thing that Jim Leff got right at the beginning was spending a ton of time getting the word out and market the site, and got a bunch of highly proficient eaters onto the site.
I just don’t see a corporate team with that mentality, or these proficient eaters inclined to pour their hearts into a corporate site with a storied history but questionable recent track record. The top two in the team are traditional Silicon Valley product managers so the focus is always going to be building a next-gen product. Though that site is no typical general purpose Internet product, but more a enthusiast nerd-out site that has been re-purposed to be general purpose. The community manager is supposed to build community, but she’s too bogged down in the last few months, by day-to-day tactical executions related to product roll-outs.
And if you look at the picture from a monetary perspective today, there is no strong reason for the team to invest in marketing that forum- its a high-cost low-return endeavor. You run a forum because you love something as a hobby (e.g. food), not because you love money, because there is no money to be had.