I'm back from AME and had quite a long and good conversation with Dietmar.
First of all, he is very aware of the discussion in this forum and also of the current activities to create an adequate documentation as a community effort.
I try to summerize our conversation as good as possible. Dietmar, if any of my statements is not correct or misleading, please feel free to correct them so that we have a valid description of the situation.
Dietmar mentioned that the original intention of that forum to be a platform where ASA users help other ASA users and therefore is mainly a place for interaction amongst users is still valid. It seems to be unlikely due to capacity reasons that there will be a significant increase in active participation of ASA representatives in the forum.
Dietmar also supports the idea of a community effort to generate a wiki based knowledge base. Even though Martin Pucher is working on updating some documentation (like the recently published beginners guides), it seems to be very unlikely that the effort to create a decent knowledge base would be redundant to what ASA is planning to do.
Dietmar also mentioned that ASA would be willing to extend the existing forum with a wiki-based knowledge area if possible and cover the associated costs and as already mentioned he is planning to discuss that with ASAs administrator as soon as he's back from vacation the week after next week.
Dietmar expressed that ASA has no intention to do any kind of censoring within the forum or in a future wiki and would support the idea of a dedicated group of editors that would maintain the content.
Dietmar also mentioned, that he will discuss with the administrator and probably Philipp Keller how ASA can make sure that all informatin and documentation, that's available could be made accessible to the community. It looks like there is documentation available that was never officially published (like e.g. more detailed information about version changes from Philipp) and Dietmar sees no reason why that should not be made available.
I proposed that all documentation could be shared with e.g. the wiki-administrators to let them check whether the content might be relevant for the community and either make it available for download or include the relevant aspects in the wiki.
I had the impression, that for ASA it was difficult to understand why a group of active forum members that are using ASA equipment with success for years see a need for better documentation. I mentioned, that on the one hand side it would help seasoned users if they knew what changes are incorporated in new software releases and how to use them. But at least from my perspective, I find it very sad to read so many bad comments in other forums when it comes to the question whether it is a good idea to invest in ASA equipment or not. A decent, up-to-date documentation and a solid support base is a must-have today, especially when dealing with a rather sophisticated and complicated product like e.g. DDMs.
I did not adress Nigels questions 5 and 6 actively, but Dietmar mentioned that he sees a strong commitment of the upper management to further support the amateur market beside the professional segment. He also mentioned, that the new, linux-based software platform is already in use in a professional project and seems to work fine there. However the user interface is command line driven and I had the impression, that there is no firm plan available yet how and when that could be made available with a decent user interface (either a windows-client or an smartphone app) to the amateur community.
I hope that I covered the most relevant aspects of our discussion and would really love to see a joined effort of ASA and the community to adress the current unsatisfying situation.
Best regards from Ulm, Germany,