(sorry if this post is all over the place, things are coming to mind as I type and I'm just throwing them in somewhere)
The real problem here is that there are probably 4 very viable ways to handle this, and no particular one is the clear winner for the community.
1. Kill them off.
2. Leave in lounge
3. Move to device forums, as one OT thread that users can BS in.
4. A subforum for the lounge.
There are pros and cons for each. One of the main cons that come to mind for me for 2-4 is that they foster a communication medium that is secluded to that thread, unless mod intervene. I mean, you have 20 users BSing in a thread and one discovers something cool. What do they do? They post it on the thread to tell all their friends, rather than create a new thread in the forum.
On the other hand, the users want these things. Or they wouldn't have them.
I'm not totally opposed to any solution personally. I'm fine with all four. Although, I DO see that as more and more sub-communities adopt the watering hole idea the lounge could eventually be nothing but that. It doesn't take but one reply to put it back on page one. We have hundreds and hundreds of devices. Soon, the lounge will be nothing but watering hole threads, potentially. And what do we do when we see this scenario in almost any case?
We make a forum or subforum.
At the same time - there really aren't that many in there, I can't imaging it being a huge huge pain now, potentially ever.
The idea was to encourage people leave their respective sub communities. Do we have any proof though that this is really working other than to get to just these watering hole threads?
So here's the thing. If I need to be the one to decide something, fine by me. I will. However if Early or someone would like to poll the community, with a sticky in the lounge, and a post in the main watering hole threads - all pointing to a poll -that's fine too. If we feel the voters would look past just the immediate desire of them personally and consider what would also be best for the site..
Or, if people are comfortable figuring it out here, fine.
Every forum should have a Phases.