You misunderstood me. I didn't mean to say the moderators or the members are not helpful enough here. They certainly are. I'd especially like to mention LH who's been the best mod as far as my posts go. The thing I actually wanted to point out is this. Consider the forum as a departmental store with a stamping desk where the newly arrived items are marked with an authenticity code stamp. Consider the new problems posted as the new items arriving at the store, and the solved ones as the stamped items. The person at the stamping desk is analogous to the moderators and the other answerers. Now, suppose, as is the case on the forum as I viewed it (I might be wrong), the person at the stamping desk is working with an efficiency close to 100% all the time. But obviously there's a limit to the maximum number of items that the person can stamp in a given slot of time. Let's just say that limit is N items per day. (You can say all the answerers can solve a maximum of N problems a day, as a best case scenario.)
Now, what I observed was that the new problems being posted are coming at a rate greater than N per day. It has nothing to do with the "free" thing that you pointed out. Now, if the situation prevails, the number of unsolved problems would eventually reach large enough to be impossible to solve without pausing the new problem posting for some time. And as every site administrator knows, it's the worst thing for the PR of the site after server crash and data loss.
To The Geek
I'd like to cite the example of Yahoo! Answers. There, the problems posted get a solution almost instantaneously, and that is also free. I don't mean to compare the two platforms - they are by no means similar. But we CAN adopt some of the strategies if they help make this forum different from the so many other forums cluttered with unsolved (and hence useless to browse and wasteful to disk space) problems. I think the users should be able to vote for a problem as being solved or unsolved after, say, 30 days of no response from the original asker (but not applicable if the last reply is the asker's only). Better yet, let the asker decide the validity period for the problem, instead of assuming that every asker would wait 30 days for a little tiny problem.
Now, in the case of the problem being decided by the users as being solved or not-solved, since the original asker has presumably not actually gotten the solution, and since the other users have most likely not tried to reproduce the exact same problem with the exact same set of hardware and software in every case, it makes sense that the asker be given the ability to mark a post as being permanently unsolved (which can then not be marked as solved by the users).
So, in case the asker has found all the solutions inapplicable, the problem would be marked unsolved. In case the asker marks it as solved, it's just good. In both of these, the asker has confirmed the asker's opinion about the replies. In the third case where the asker just ignored the topic after a certain number of posts and neither marked it as unsolved nor solved, the users can decide the fate of the topic.
To encourage the answers, awards (in terms of special titles) can be given, like Google Help forums do. There need to be more subtitles among the main title "Member" LOL :D
Just my 2 cents. Please see if they make any sense. I can make more suggestions if the mods and members liked them hehehe...