It was interesting, because it had all the mechanical characteristics of a shithole like early 4chan (totally hands off administration, no hotpockets, totally unsecured pseudonymous "accounts" without even the password protection of a trip, zero content standards, no permanent history, etc.), but without the shittingdicknipples that usually result. The site's community was unironically one of the nicest (if a bit dumb, probably due to low age) I can remember, and the niceness was completely organic. There were things like an "ultimate troll page" that pulled zero punches, yet people didn't get butthurt about it, there were jokes and banter mixed into lists in every page, but none of the arguments ever got angry, just amusingly autistic.
If I had to describe it succinctly, it felt like if ED was made by normalfags.
The downfall came in stages. IMHO the first stage was the breaking of soft taboos against things like (seriously) expletives or porn that had existed to then, as newfags started arriving too fast for acculturation. The userbase had always had a large fanficcer component, but there had been an understanding that everyone would try to be classy. Incidentally, this would result in an accretion of filth that came back to bite the site through its Google AdWords advertising, forcing a massive purge that was also used to justify yet more totally unnecessary censorship, but that was years down the road.
After that, was the forum coming back and causing mods. The forum had existed before, and been shut down due to hacks, but when it came back for good, it was ultimately what lead to the recruiting of moderators. That isn't to say the forum was inherently bad, but it was the first part of the site to get modded, and even if they started exercising a light hand, all the first batch of mod recruits were the biggest dicksuckers on the forum, and the first posters to get posts/threads deleted, and eventually banned, were almost invariably the highest quality posters on the forum, and the shiteaters that repeatedly provoked them were always treated as victims by the mods.
The beginning of the end was when the forum gained formal control over the rest of the site, particularly the "Trope Repair Shop" subforum and its "Crowners" system, which consisted near entirely of squeaky wheel busybodies that would repeatedly push the same unpopular idea, in the face of rejection after rejection, until their lucky day when enough of their opponents weren't present to object, and it suddenly became irreversible law. These people were the ones who pushed for the first mods on the wiki, the first editlocks on the wiki, the first forced renames/moves on the wiki, and the first page deletions on the wiki.
The point of no return was the great negativity purge, which was done through phases of segregation. First everything "opinionated" was split into its own namespace of the wiki (YMMV), then everything "negative" (Darth Wiki), then the removal of real life examples because of "sensitivity", then full "example section-ectomies" to create "example-less" pages for "sensitive" tropes (probably the most ironic being when the page for "Jump the Shark" had its examples purged, since that very trope was inherited from an entire website by the same name, which had suffered a similar downfall shortly before most of its members moved on to found TV Tropes), then those entire namespaces were deleted in one fell swoop, and finally the "new normal" of outright random mass deletions in the main namespace was instituted. At the same time, the forum was reorganized, with the Holla Forums-like "On Topic" subforum having massive numbers of harsh rules imposed on it, and the Holla Forums-like "IJBM" subforum simply being deleted, accompanied by a massive deletion of the forum's years-long archive history for "performance reasons".
That was about when I fucked off.
He's the same guy who always ran it, I think it's just that his soul wore down, and the abuse routinely practiced by his mods gradually rubbed off on him.