If I desired to expand my understanding of Battlestar Galactica TNS either in the literal sense of gaining a greater understanding of the plot and characters or in a "meta" sense of gaining a greater understanding of the show, how it's made and the various "outside" factors that influence the making and shaping of it, would following the Okay thread or threads be worth my time?
The Okay thread is MrsRon's thread (though she would not say it 'belongs' to her) and as such it reflects MrsRon's philosophy of debate. Contrary to what you have been told there is no prohibition whatsoever to talking about BSG and no one is ever "handed their hat" for any reason. Just don't expect it to be a place to pump MrsRon for spoiler information. (Well, you can try, but you won't get much.) That's not the point of it. There are plenty of places on the board to talk about BSG itself. On the Okay thread you are more likely to see discussions not only of how BSG sparks political debate, but the actual political debate itself occurring, in a polite cordial environment which MrsRon has used her influence to make somewhat
of a safe haven from the vitriol that gets spewed whenever politics comes up elsewhere on the board.
This is the thread's main function and I believe (though I don't want to speak for her) that this is what MrsRon intends to be the threads main function. There isn't a political issue every day; many days the regular participants just socialise. But there is an open door for political or 'issues' topics of any kind. In the hiatus, the connection of any of these topics to BSG has been slim to nonexistent. But that isn't the point.
From what I can see, (and I will NOT point my finger regardless of any prodding or questioning), the Okay thread does and did, in its previous incarnations, prompt a lot of very unhealthy fan behavior. I don't want to become involved in this situation or even be proximate to it unless there's something valuable to be gleaned from the experience.
MrsRon's thread is one of the more relentlessly pleasant threads on the board. I have seen far, far
worse behaviour outside of that thread than I have seen in it. Petty jealousies over the fact that a certain 'extremist' rude type of argumentation gets largely ignored in that thread have sparked some to essentially try to troll the thread and insult MrsRon and ridicule the thread regulars. Par for the course, I'm afraid. A lot of different people post in the Okay thread from time to time, you might be surprised how many board members skim it and post occasionally (especially if you don't scan every page) but if you become a regular poster, you will become an occasional target no matter what you post, through no fault of your own.
I don't always have an interest in the topic that is going in the Okay thread. But I always check it and when I do have an interest, I just leap in with both feet and I don't care about understanding what has gone before. Others who formerly were a bit leery of the thread have been successful with the same approach.
You don't have to read all of it or 'keep up' by any means. But I suggest you scan it occasionally. Sometimes debate gets pretty intense and serious in there, and the great thing is we talk about subjects that usually
would degenerate into flame wars if they were conducted elsewhere. For example, if you want to have a serious, polite discussion of the merits of the war in Iraq, without it quickly devolving into emotional name-calling and insults, 'Okay' is the go-to thread.
Just leap in and post a brand new potentially controversial article/topic as your first post, if that interests you. Regardless of whatever light social talk is going on at the time, everyone knows that this is the purpose of the thread and within the day, at least some of the regulars and regular guests (such as myself) will likely offer some in-depth thoughts about it and nobody will flame you.
And that's worth something. It changes the climate of the board. For the better. If you had been around for the Cain wars in January, you would know what I am referring to. It was impossible at the beginning of Season 2.5 to find a place on the board to rationally discuss the political issues raised by the way Admiral Cain was written and her storyline resolved. Any thread it was mentioned in immediately became a street fight complete with knives and broken bottles. Half the threads on the board were (or became) about Cain, but as political investigations they were all pretty worthless. We lost more board members in January than at any other time that I have been here, really good board members, and a lot of them have not returned.
I wish the Okay thread had been around back then. And I believe that it was this January spectacle of the whole board going up in flames along with other histrionic fan extremes that prompted MrsRon (as a regular board reader) to jump in and try to ground this place a little. And although currently we have some typical mid-hiatus "the-fans-will-eat-themselves" personality wars going on (the same thing happened last hiatus with a different set of personalities), I believe it has worked. There is a calming influence on the board. I think the standards of debate in the MrsRon thread have spread a little. Perhaps it's just a matter of time, but I haven't seen another January.
If the thread is not your bag, then there's no need to post in it or read it: no harm no foul. But I think the whole board is a bit better behaved due to the awareness of MrsRon's presence here, and that keeping around the moderate sorts of people who post in her thread can only be a good thing.