I think it is OK to have a $500 MTB Thread as a compilation of questions and answers about Mountain Bikes in the $500 price range. However, I don't think it should serve as a subsitute for replies to posts regarding questions about bikes in this price range.
IOW, I am getting irritated with every poster that asks a question about a $500 Mountain Bike getting a link to the $500 thread and nothing else. Again, i think it is ok to refer them to the thread but what is wrong with answering their questions? Espescially since many of the posters are newbies.
The $500 Thread is far from efficient. It is difficult to glean the wheat from the chaff. The search function on this forum is not discriminating enough to be able to search a given thread and get answers as efficiently as you could from a real time post.