I definitely believe its a good idea to prepare for the future, indeed, but when you're talking about a hosting environment, most people pay a monthly fee to their provider. Ultimately the community that I'm currently running has over 600 users and we experience zero server load issues (on a shared host), so I think you should be fine on a shared host for the time being. IPS has really worked on performance optimization in IPS 4.0, and they are continuing working on it, your community should run fine without having to shell out money that you don't necessarily have. I hope this helps!
Depends on what kind of community you're running. IPS likes to provide dynamic features for all types of communities. For instance, if you were to host a raffle, or a giveaway, or something similar, you can create a thread documenting information about the event, and you can use that thread for users on your website to sign up. Most giveaways, raffles, and events have a specific close date, and time. Human errors come up, and sometimes closing a thread such as this in a timely fashion may prove a bit difficult, which is what I use it for. Users are still able to review over the thread and its information, without being able to contribute to its content.
Congratulations! I see that people are recommending getting a custom theme for your forums - that's probably something I would do as well, however! 4.0 is right around the corner, so if you guys plan on upgrading when the first stable release is out, then I'd recommend waiting to have a design built. Once again, congratulations!
I'd recommend leaving discussions regarding bugs in the Bug Tracker, so the people working to resolve the issue can keep up with the discussion, having it in two different places won't speed up the process, it will most likely slow it down.
I think it all depends on personal preference. 4.0 is a slick, clean, professional design that can be customized fairly easily. As time progresses, things become outdated, and its time for an "upgrade", i definitely believe the design in 4.0 is a very nice update indeed.
Middle mouse button squad In reality, it appears that this thread is literally going back and forth about a link that most people find irrelevant, it just goes to show that people will find something to complain about. All companies are unique with their designs, and functionality, if they weren't, we'd all be on the same software. There's things about IPS that most of us really like, and won't find anywhere else. If a "Back to Top" button is legitimately a concern, there's no reason why you can't just add it yourself, as demonstrated within this topic, most people don't have a care in the world for something so small, to be honest with you, its quite useless in my opinion.
1 - No, as it is a complete overhaul to their suite, skins that worked for 3.x will not work for 4.x.
2 - The best guess is sometime within 2014, they're beta testing it on a private website now for contributors.
3 - from what I've seen, the ACP is reworked, posting should w ork the same though.
4 - You have to understand that MyBB is a free software, so users from all over the world that cannot invest in a software such as IPB are ultimately left with software like PHPBB, MyBB, etc. therefore they may have a larger community-base.