Firstly, to Alex:
Many, many thanks for taking a risk and trying the Conservatory. I am sorry it didn't work out, and even more sorry that it caused you and the moderator team problems. So many, many thanks also for dealing with that and taking the step to close it.
I'm not sorry to see it gone. I did actually vote in favour of its creation (as explained below), but I really came to regret that. As it took off, I found the atmosphere there to be increasingly hostile and toxic, in some threads more than others. And in some cases some of the topics seemed to have been started specifically to have a dig at people who didn't see things the way the thread-starter did. It should have been a place for serious but civilised debate and discussion, but instead - and quite quickly - it became somewhere that provoked anger, upset and division. And that seems to have had an impact on MR as a whole. I'm hoping that now it's gone the equilibrium will return to MR again.
I voted for the separate forum, because at the time I felt it might be best for the continued health of MR, given there was a lot of vocal discontent with how topics in the lounge can go off-topic, or get "too silly". It's not something I have an issue with personally - and it has proved it's worth in diffusing over-heated threads before now, but if it was aggravating others that much, well maybe it would be for the best. It would mean that the people who had an issue with the "silly" crowd, and the people who had an issue with the "serious" crowd could both have off topic areas in which they could avoid one another, and those who had issues with neither could flit between them. I did have doubts about some of the arguments being used in favour of it being created and the way some people seemed to regard those who didn't stay 100% on topic and serious, but still thought it might be the best solution. I'm not afraid to say I was completely and utterly wrong.