Honestly, there are two priorities I've got with the changes:
1) Move things around to support the new features coming.
2) Make the forum more easy to use for everybody.
On the second item, I'm trying to improve the navigation... the latest discussion page is definitely a sore spot, in fact the whole forums homepage needs improvement in a bunch of areas.
I definitely want your input on how the forum should look/navigate.
As far as making the design look similar to other forums, here's an example of a PHPBB3 topic:
Here's an example of Ubuntu Forums, which is where I got the idea for styling:
I don't think either one of them are perfect... I want to reduce clutter as much as possible while keeping things functional. I think the phpbb theme is really cluttered, and it has the user information in more than one spot.
Here's an example of a Google Groups thread, which I think is extremely functional and fairly clean looking:
I especially love how you can "Star" topics in Google Groups, similar to gmail... it's just an excellent way to keep track of which threads you are on. That's one of the features I wanted to add to our forum.