My question has always been, who has licked an ashtray? Try as I might, I can't come up with one good reason to do this, even if it's to protect a well-worn analogy.
I share your sentiments about all the helpful folks on the pipe boards. One of the reasons I think of these days as the Golden Age of Pipe Smoking (despite all the Carrie Nation-inspired laws) is that it's the Age of Information. The kind of info I pick up here in 2 minutes used to take months of schmoozing the B&M boys and their pals to extract. Many of the questions posed here are things I never thought to ask and the answers provide benefits I never considered.
Smoke up, gentlemen! It truly is a great time to be a pipesmoker.