Hi @BarbH - a few comments below.
Most of what you are accustomed to doing is enabled by the current format, but if you are looking for a Discourse-based online forum built for 2016 and beyond to function the same way as a 1997-era mailing list, it won't. Perhaps @leah-ganoksin-admin can take a peak at your settings and give you hand - I am sure we can get you squared away. The system is designed to be easy to use.
We will continue to tweak the settings until we find what works for the majority of users. Feedback is important to help us with that process.
If you can explain exactly what it is that you can't do, we can tell you more specifically whether the software is the problem / limiting factor If there is something you can do but don't know how to do, we can tell you that too, and we can post up how to do it in case others are having the same problem. This is constructive and helps us a lot. To be clear though, our goal is not to re-create the old Orchid mailing list, it is to create from the old Orchid mailing list a new dynamic forum for the next generation of jewelers. If there are things you are looking to do, we can likely help you accomplish them or give you a workaround.
The Suggested Topics don't work well for you because you don't log in. If you don't log in and use the forum, and instead you reply by email, the system has no data on what you read, how long you spend reading it, what you browse, etc. So it just gives you random suggestions - it has no data that would help it to do otherwise. It knows nothing about your habits. The more you use the system and log in to it (from your phone or on your computer), the more it knows about what you like to read. You are welcome to reply by email and use the system that way, but don't expect the pieces of the system designed for logged-in users to add meaningful value to you as they will not.
Take a screenshot of this please. It looks fine on all of my machines.
You can still use the Ganoksin website completely for free, even though we have spent considerable resources (and continue to do so) to upgrade it. Much of the cost to serve, organize, and maintain that free content is subsidized by our amazing advertisers like @RioGrande, @StullerInc and others. It used to be subsidized by Google ads, but because I wanted to eliminate that "noise" to make the website more usable and useful, we no longer have that revenue stream. I will note that for all those years of value you've derived, you've never been asked to pay anything. Your consumption has been subsidized by the generosity of jewelry companies and the incredible efforts of folks like @Hanuman. Regretfully, that paradigm does not allow for future growth, and I want to expand on what @Hanuman built - hence asking for a small membership fee. I am certain you are a person of integrity, and therefore recognize that it costs time and money to maintain and improve these resources. Membership fees from users and advertising dollars are the fuel that will keep Ganoksin growing and improving.