Is there any chance that the site might go back to phpBB? That software was incredibly functional compared to whatever the current system is, and it's free. Or even a reasonably priced commercial solution such as IP Board would be great. IP Board works great over at On The Left, it has private messages, polls, member lookup, so you can find posts by other members.
Was there ever any reason provided regarding the decision to ditch an industry standard forum software in favor of this system? Can we get some sort of petitioin going that Thom would listen to? Honestly, it would probably make his life much easier to just use off-the-shelf, free forum software.