Pretty sure the main reason that the CAP forum as a whole is so intimidating is because it is utterly utterly counter-intuitive to anybody who isn't familiar with the ideas behind it - I'm relatively certain nobody coming into the CAP forum could ever quite understand the logic behind the CAP process as opposed to "post your own mons hurrah". Heck, when I first turned up here I read through the CAP rules religiously and still managed to entirely misunderstand the process (and get infracted for it) with my first post here.
As far as ideas go, you aren't going to be able to make CAP less "intimidating" unless you somehow miraculously relax standards and essentially degenerate the forum into a free-for-all, because that's what most people are, subconsciously at least, going to expect when they arrive.
One thing I would like to suggest is a new Sticky thread to take over the job of the old CAP Kitchen, which never quite got the amount of exposure it could have done; largely, I think, because it was and is a social group, which I'm pretty sure aren't really Smogon's most advertised commodity. The Kitchen as a sticky thread would give people a place to partake in flavour discussion without disrupting the main threads. I doubt it would work as a non-sticky given the relative frequency with which CAP threads are rolled up and tossed aside, but I doubt it would add much in the way of intimidation.
I assume that the CAP Metagame will get a megathread once it gets up and running, so I won't comment on that area. Even if it doesn't, there should still be a decent reserve for metagame discussion in some capacity (I can't imagine there wouldn't be).
The rules are there for a reason and shouldn't be changed without specific issues, other than "these are intimidating".
Must dash now so here are some bullet point ideas:
- Implement a CAP Kitchen thread for flavour discussion
- Restart the CAP Late-night Tournament series as once hosted by Umbreon Dan (not that I can participate, since "late night" in American terms is somewhat beyond my reach, but they were a nice touch to the main forum aesthetic, even so)
- Make a new subforum for archives, and add good RMTs / discussion threads / people's xk threads for posterity
- Change the CAP Forum Rules thread to make it a little less blunt and to the point, and a little more welcoming
- Create-your-own-Pokemon competitions? I've been toying with the idea, and it seems a little infeasible on paper, but essentially would work in a similar manner to the MAC in Smeargle's, where you would submit your ideal Pokemon, with all areas covered, in response to a given concept, and the best one would go to a vote, or something like that. I wouldn't ordinarily support it, but if apparently we want CAP to be more friendly and welcoming then it may be something to think about
Essentially the CAP forum is always going to be intimidating because a) it's a process that has been refined for a long time and thus not intuitive to anybody not familiar with it and b) there is a certain intellectual threshold that dictates more or less who can and can't post here - if you're willing to put time and effort into thinking your posts through and making your opinions clear then yes, people pay attention, and if you don't, then yes, people will ignore you, heartbreaking as it is (and I know that as well as anybody). Personally I don't see that anything can really be changed without detracting from what is already here, aside from what can perhaps be added to make the experience more diverse
Also I have some ideas for intermediate projects in between the main ones but these are quite long and will probably require a pr thread of their own once the current policy changes are dealt with.
Oh and if anybody tries to implement a tl;dr policy I will be very irritated and issue a referendum suggesting mild disapproval