We've been talking a lot about new forums and forum requests in the Admins forum. The procedure we have in place is as democratic as it can be within the confines of the community here; someone proposes a forum and any members who meet the criteria (50 posts & member for 3 months) can add their plus or minus one and their opinion.
This means that a topic with a genuine need will always get approved (we hope). At times it also means a forum is approved with lots of support but then doesn't really gain traction and dies off very quickly. At a time when we are trying to merge/trim forums rather than create new ones, we're trying to avoid more dead forums on the site. To try to avoid this and to encourage even more new forums to be given a chance we are planning to put any new forums into a New Forums category for a probationary period. While in the probationary period, we will give the proposed new forums as much exposure as we can with Homepage announcements and links from the forum that is the intended future home.
If, after a period of 3-6 months the forum is still active, we'll move it along to it's intended category. If it doesn't work out, we'll close it off and call it an experiment. Hopefully with this in place, we'll be able to give more proposed forums a chance to take off