Anyway, with all the spammers nowadays almost every board is kind of closed. I don't get these so-called elitist on invitation-only boards either.
I am very glad boards like LL exist where people are trying to help out others and share knowledge. Besides that it is also a nice social pastime.
I have found there are pros that are anxious to share knowledge since they fear to make a potential competitor better than themselves. These pros obviously still haven't found out that skills & knowledge are not perse the most important things to succeed as photographer.
Oh, well with the places I already visit I have no need to participate in one of these secret forums. They don't have much to offer to me.
Every day in our private life we decide whom we want to allow into our circle of friends. We base our decision on our individual likings and not on someone's worthiness to be our pal. If I choose not be a friend with another photographer it does not mean that he is not a good photog. It also does not mean that he is too good of a craftsmen and that I would be intimidated by his presents.
It only means that for some reason we did not clicked and I would not feel comfortable to share my private time with. We may work and associate together but we will not make friends.
Additionally after we choose somebody for a friend with time we may decide to exclude him from our circle. It is so natural and understood in reality and it should be the same on Web.
My understanding of Board98 is that it is a close small circle of friends and as such it has all the rights to be exclusive. They survive a year in keeping it this way so more power to them.
Close groups bring a lot of benefits to it's members and also allow added feeling of intimacy. All of this however comes with a cost which sometimes is not realized at the beginning.
As history shows all very closed socialties with time tend to degraded. NO fresh blood and fresh ideas always creates dictatorship. The strongest and the loudest arise to leadership position and slowly but surely keeps implementing his ideas.
If hypotetically we would assume that board98 leader was a strong and loud Contax645/aptus believer we can also assume that in a matter of few months his fellow club members would be influenced to buy Contax bodies. If in matters of 6 months he would discover that Phase One P45 is the best back so would the rest short after. Viva economy. Viva "Fotographers" Club - of course hypotetically.
So for all of us outsiders, be happy of what we have here. Be sure that boards98 members are among us as well and that talking about their Club only validates their believes and need for privacy. Think about this way: in a year+ since the creation of board98 there are no leaks on internet about their detailed activities. This is better that USA government with all it's CIA and FBI.
Nobody left the group in a year? ( North Korea ? ) or a real group of friends regardless of circumstancies. It would mean that once a fotographers club member - always photographers club member.