Forum engagement can't be considered separately from forum readability.
Right now, unfortunately, the amount of animated contrasting amber and nyon nicknames on a dark background just makes the whole thing look ridiculous.
Instead of focusing on the actual content, users are distracted with far less important things.
Adding more social features to the forums is good tho, just gotta make those likes look less pronounced. Dropping animations and colours from likes section is probably the way to do it.