From: Northwestern Georgia, USA
The AE community is tremendous. If I had car trouble in Colorado or Minnesota, I know who'd I call. When I backpack the Appalachian Trail through northeast Tennessee, I know who I'll call. If I travel to England and need a good recommend for a pub to visit, I know who I'd call (and he'd meet me and my family there and buy our dinner, in all likelihood). If I travel to Italy, I know who I'd call (but I would have to keep this super-secret information from my wife, in all likelihood....)
The AE Forumites discuss topics like "lost loves" and "who's really responsible for the loss at Gettysburg" intelligently and with good humor and grace, seldom if ever uttering a harsh word. I've learned alot of general and specific information about history and warfare and...well, even things like literature! When AE regulars go missing, we try to track them down. When AE regulars find another game (and how rare is that?) we gently encourage them to return. If they stubbornly refuse, we haunt them and stalk them like they were lovers who gilted us (...ahem, Q-Ball, I hope I didn't freak you out back in the day).
Because I know this community - with the reputations of thoughtful and insightful people with a broad base of knowledge on the most amazingly esoteric stuff (poultry diseases, Soviet armor technology, etc.), I might come here to ask a serious question about where any of a certain number of troubling developments in the world might head, and I know I could rely on the answers more than I could on analysis from most news reporting companies. Bird flu in China? I can get an answer. Does North Korea really pose a threat to use nuclear weapons? I can get an answer. Did western intelligence really infect Iranian computers with a virus? Come here to get an answer.
I've even posted some of my stories here and had people provide excellent feedback, suggestions, and occasionally excellent editorial corrections.
Okay, I admit it. I use you guys. Shamelessly. But affectionately.