If a not even two year old (as a licensed & deep in 2nd place) OS such as Windows 10 can have a Discussion area, then so should we, there was a Linux Forum long before anyone thought of W10, or even 1st place W7 for that matter.
While Nick has a point in one can simply create a Topic & let it rip, this causes a double negative effect. Both Support & Discussion Topics (combined as are now) are buried pages deep fast, once the last response is made. When both are separate, the effect isn't as noticeable, and keeps Topics on both sides up in the rankings, which would provide another benefit to the Community (though not immediate), Google hits leading folks to where what one wants to see. When a link is clicked onto, it climbs up on their 'hit' list (there is a term for that, though I don't know the acronym), and makes our site stand out more. Members are less apt to click onto Topic w/out a response for two years......and when these does, some are first time posters, often Spammers. Yet when these are reported, can be dealt with, and I encourage all to report spam or inflammatory posts as soon as read. This happens on most all tech Forums, should not negate the effects of what we desire to achieve, important Topics getting buried 25+ pages deep & not having exposure.
It works like this......the longer a Topic stays dead, it gradually fades off of Google hits when researching, then when clicked on (via Google), moves up a notch again. Keeping both separate, while not a 100% cure to that solution, as eventually all Topics fizzles out, keeps these relevant much longer, for both sides. Note that not everyone who participates in the Linux section (or are our loyal visitors, whom probably outnumbers the entire Community by double) are having issues, rather wants to discuss a matter, or look it up if researching. So that's the 'double negative' effect as it stands today. Both the Forum search tool & Google hits to Topics may be missed. While am on the subject, Google actually dug up my own Topics faster than the search feature of the Forum, when I had to go back to these, or wanted to find the fastest way possible.
If were to have each separate, as others has pointed out, this should lead to less off-Topic discussion in the Support Topics, where members can then find an appropriate Discussion Topic where their input would be more welcome. Of course, no matter what, this will happen to a degree, though the Moderators can move (or ask a member to edit post if less than 24 hours) off-Topic postings, and there will be some that'll have to be deleted on both sides. It's that way all across the site, one cannot even go into General Chat or The Speak Easy & crash a OP's Topic with nonsense, posts are edited/removed from all over the site, not just within our Community.
I see having a Discussion area as an extension to the massive overhaul that as a Team, us Staffers made in a fairly quick time, given the task that was on our hands, within a few months time, get the Linux section, which at one point (when myself & about 3 other members arrived from the XP one) was a total chaos, turned into a respectable Linux Forum. One that unlike many 'dedicated' Linux Forums, a family oriented one, w/out all of the open (& deep personal) bashing, one glaring example that those who has ran Linux for years knows, we don't bash others over what other OS's our members runs (this is a Site wide rule as it pertains to personal bashing), we only ask that members ask questions about other OS's in the proper Forum. Other than (example) 'how do I setup dual boot Linux with Windows?', which would be considered a proper question to ask here & probably gets asked several times per week.
The above would be a good example of a Discussion question, though in some cases, may have to be moved to Support, or after the member collects the needed information as pertains to the subject, then create a new Topic in Support. Note that not everyone wanting information are looking for Support, and it's my guess that less than half who asks such a question actually follows through, once everything is seen.
Final thoughts, I simply believe that our Linux Community will be a better experience for everyone with a separate Discussion area.