My two cents
While I won't disagree that there are some forums where it seems like making money and/or promoting ones self may have become prime considerations, it would hardly be fair to suggest that all of CureZone is merely the blind leading the blind. Fact is, there are also good forums where caring and knowledgable people can be found. Taking the time to look around a forum can tell you a lot insofar as how visitors are treated, if the owners and members appear to know what they are talking about and if anyone is actually being helped (as opposed to less pleasant scenarios). Just as you say that people should do their own research, I agree and advise that in ANY forum, one should do their due diligence and not simply take someone's word unless a long pattern of trust has been built.
Some may disagree, but I do not think that the primary reason for a Private Forum is so the forum owner can make money. I have never looked at my private forum that way. I am there to help and learn, the same reasons I came to CZ to begin with. I think we should remember that these are not forums which are the actual property of the forum owners - they weren't granted so someone could play God, tramlple other members and just hawk their wares. They were granted for the perceived knowledge the forum owner might have to share and selling, if any, was an allowable side bonus that went along with the privilege of ownership.
When I was approached by the WM about having a private forum, and then when I accepted a year later, it was my clear understanding that I had been granted a privilege based on the perceived value I might offer to CZ.. I also was given the impression and instructions that I was expected to respond to visitors querries in a timely manner and treat visitors civilly.
So, while others may disagree, Lu and myself treat our forum as a privilege and try to treat our visitors well and help them out as best we can - or try to point them in the right direction when we don't feel qualified.
My two cents.