Well, I believe the fellow who runs the board may be traveling at the moment. But that's neither here nor there. If you simply browse thru various threads, you'll notice that off topic discussions are usually moved fairly quickly to a different thread, which implies to me at least that it's not so much encouraged. Thanks for the heads up on Chowhound -- this alone would be a good reason for me not to spend much time there as I personally don't get all that much enjoyment out of long, verbose, rambling discussions with little or no focus. Perhaps others who have hung around here longer than I have and participate more heavily might weigh in with their own view.
And it's worth mentioning, I think, that my posts garner interest, which is good for the board. Several people have already commented to me, both publicly and privately, that the boards are more active now than they have been in a long time (I've already made 150 posts in just 2 months' time), so it occurs to me that what this board needs is less of what you're describing and more of what I'm providing.
But again, if I'm directed by the board bosses to change my posting habits, I will comply. It's their sandbox, and I'm a guest here. I have no problem playing by the rules (once I know what they are).
As we're still wandering around in the weeds. As several previous comments have noted, there are threads for many of the things you comment on already in place and/or it may be appropriate to start a new thread for a converstation. I rather enjoy the philosophical, but it may be more appropriate to start a new thread about "The Future of the Far West Side" rather than inserting it into the middle of restaurant reviews. As easy as it is to start a new thread, that's what many of us tend to do. I believe that's the general issue. Just my two cents worth.
In the past the moderators were more active at moderating and topics like this would get split out into their own threads. I'm actually surprised that it hasn't been split out already.
You may have also noted that as Oregonians either by birth or by longevity, we find all things California annoying. When we get compared to California, by Californians we wonder why said Californians are here and not still in California. If you stick around long enough, you'll understand.
You may have also noted that we're a snarky and sarcastic lot and as such, I hope you take this all in the spirit in which it is offered