Man I don't even remember playing in that that year, nor that it was the prototype for current PAPA/old Pinburgh. My memory sucks.
If I may address @mhs, @PAPA_Doug, @chesh, and any other PAPA staff/volunteers: I get the impression from having read (now) the initial facebook outburst that this wound up being slightly prematurely announced with no context available to make a more informed opinion as to what was going on. I think you guys know that (particularly on this forum) generally everyone loves and respects what you guys do, and that it was more the context-free shock of the change rather than a reflection of your abilities to put together quality events.
Clearly, if PAPA is not paying its own bills, then something has to be done, I don't think anyone would deny that; can't rely on benefactors forever... It's a path that leads nowhere good certainly.
It's kind of like the Hobbit reveal we had at expo 2 years ago. Everyone screamed and how shitty the art was and how stupid we were for thinking it was good. The contextual version of that is that a) there was absolutely no allowed material of Smaug other than what was on that playfield (i.e. the distance shot of him over the mountain) and b) the previous artist's artwork (yes there was someone else working on it before JP did) was SO FUCKING HORRIBLE that JP's stuff looked like the Sistine Chapel compared to my kid's watercolor drawings. (There is only slight hyperbole in this statement.)
As I'm sure you guys are hurt/bothered/irritated/pissed at the reaction to the change, also we could hardly understand the reaction to the Hobbit pf at first. In fact, we kind of lived it again via the Echo Chamber of Piss after the Dialed In reveal, despite the nearly unanimous rave reviews of everyone at Expo in person. But,without any context of how we got to where we were, yeah it looks kind of bland and unappealing, but it was light years beyond what we had. Someday, I'll find the old files and post them somewhere.
So, don't take the general negative bad reaction of a beloved format as a reflection on your worth. I'm sure if it had been announced properly and framed with "this is how things need to be to continue to be a viable event," etc. etc., it wouldn't have been nearly as bad as it seems.
Also, I don't think there's a bad signal-to-noise ratio here. You may not LIKE the signal, but it's not noise. Try to see it from the people in this thread's perspective: A cool thing is being lost, and that kind of sucks. That's all that people are lamenting (for the most part, queues and crap aside). The community is lucky to have PAPA and you guys, and I think most people actually believe that and will go back to realizing that when the shock has worn off.
People just want the best, whether it's a tournament format or good pinball artwork or whatever. Context is really important, I know that all too well.