Excellent topic, has implications for everyone from the industry folks here to those who are just trying out our sport. I'd say that five things could benefit the lurkers and newbies.
1) Be civil to them. Consider how you felt when you first stumbled across this place, trying to figure out the protocol, the culture, who was worth reading and who was blowing smoke. Or your first post. Keep in mind that your post will be read by hundreds or even thousands of people, most of whom will never reply. Most of whom don't "know you" in the web version of community, or how awesome you are. I routinely jump in when someone's post count is in the single digits and welcome them to Epic, and I go through the usual drill. I typically include a suggestion to search the Gear Forums for particular sets of reviews. So do some others here. Before we break our arms patting ourselves on the backs, this should be something that's part of the basic cultural responsibilities here, like subscribing or deducing BWPA's missing words. Take your turn. Accept the fact that yeah, a 2 poster could have done a search (if they could figure out our ridiculous engine, see #3). Make them feel like they can become part of this too. If they want to be Jonged, they can go sign on to TGR, and wade through the ritual initiations. A few may end up bicultural. (Love the half thread parsing Skifishbum's syntax). Conversely, if you've got all of 53 posts yourself and are jonging a newbie...
2) Figure out a way to sticky/otherwise foreground seminal threads that we've had about particular issues. For instance, ski length, or helmet safety, or ACL's. Often when I'm replying to someone, I just can't invest the time in searching for these, so I give some vague descriptors and suggest they search. Weak, and see #3.
3) Improve the in-house search function, or have a box on the opening page that directs newbies on how to search here using Google. It's just too inefficient to wade through all the irrelevant crap to try to find a particular post from a year ago. I'm not a techie, but seriously guys, our engine sucks. If that's a problem for all engines, how come I can Google stuff from the outside so much more efficiently?
4) Phil's initiatives about Gear on the opening page are great. But I've noticed that if you factor out the Epic administrators, there's still a disjunct between those that post in the Gear Review section and those who post in the Gear Review Forum. So if I'm a newbie interested in a ski, I might go first to the Gear Reviews, then eventually work my way to Ski Gear Discussion, then be directed to Ski Gear Reviews, where I would come up against the search engine. Tedious. Plus, many of us actually do it in reverse, start with the forums and then (maybe) go look or post at the Gear Reviews. The nuanced stuff - and most of the dings or "yes but's", which are more valuable than the adoration - gets left in the forums. So would suggest better interface between Gear Reviews and Ski Gear Review forum if possible. I realize that getting links to particular threads might be tough, but at least a link to the forum? Or to all threads with that genre of ski in their titles? Or from a particular thread to the Gear Review section review?
5) Assume that every hour someone who's never been here before shows up and wants to lurk. Our job is to create the illusion that it's worth their time they could be devoting to earning money or interacting with flesh and blood people. Our forums have a long "rules of conduct" link that says "read this first," so I doubt anyone will this week except me (so I could double check). Besides, we ignore half the rules. Suggest something flashier graphically that addresses lurkers specifically, could include appropriate conduct but more relevant to show how to get around, how to search, why this is way cooler than doing that report, etc. Wouldn't hurt to be a hair less we're-watching-you than the "Rules of Conduct," also.