The main problem here is that you are assuming that the community will change. That moderation will change. When in reality the community will be staying the exact same. Right now, look at what happens when a thread is accidently posted in Gaming instead of EtcetEra... you get people joking on the first page and making lame gaming references.
During the EA Sports Mass Shooting, the thread was first in Gaming, and later moved to EtcetEra. And yet without the Mods posting that the change had happened, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference in reaction.
If people start complaining about where a thread is located, well doesn't that run afoul of the rules of the forum? Do we not trust the community to report those posts, and do we not trust the Moderation staff to deal with them for Thread Whining? They take that very seriously. Do you seriously think that a type of community will form that is somehow completely against what the common culture of the forum is?
The answer is no, and that's why this whole point is invalid. Simply changing the layout of the board won't change the fundamental construct of the forum as a whole.
The fact that rhe community won't change is actually part of the problem. Gaming side has effectively pushed politics out of its side, and it's a large part of why the gaming community and the etc are radically different. Moderation not changing is part of the problem, too. The banning/warning system they have has shown to be ineffective and generally just leads to little slaps on the wrist that deters no one and just allows those with problematic views to stay and fester until a situation arises where it explodes, further driving the two communities apart.
With the amount of people coming in here alone celebrating they will no longer have to see politics in entertainment it's incredibly obvious what's happened in gaming will happen in Entertainment. And it's basically by design, intentional or otherwise
I also don’t really like the unilateral action. I mean, outside of the “influential community members” or whatever, I don’t see much consultation from the admin team with the community at large. If we were all clamoring for these changes then sure, a restructured forum might be the appropriate response. But dropping it out of nowhere with very little/no discussion with the community? Just doesn’t sit well, I really don’t get it and it goes against a lot of the initial ideas for the site.
I’m sure I’m over analyzing and it’ll end up being fine but... eh.
I guess I don't care too strongly one way or the other. We'll see how it goes.
One of the points in the OP mentions how a certain percentage of threads in Hangouts are locked or under posted in. Does that really have to do with the way the forum is structured or does that just show those weren't very popular topics?