Every month there is at least one thread on these forums devoted to the state of the game, specifically regarding how it isn't doing very well. The trouble is that even if no one mentions it explicitly, the main reason for this doom and gloom is that CN is not as popular as it was at its height. This is completely true; though I was not around back then, I have heard 50k players thrown around and I believe it. By that metric, CN has decline 80% over the years in user base. However, that isn't the full story.
Comparing CN now to its heydays is a faulty comparison. Yes, the trend has been overall down through the years, but the last few years it has been relatively stable. In other words, the most invested players remain, some new ones have joined, and the rest have left. CN has always occupied a niche so all that is happening now is that that niche is stabilizing over time. CN back then was a fad, it became hugely popular for a time and then the fad went away and it started to decline in popularity. The thing is though, the end of the fad doesn't mean the end of the object of that fad.
Remember Myspace, it was once the most visited site on the web, but then Facebook came along and stole its thunder. The fad ended and Myspace plunged down the Alexa rankings. However, though it is far from its heyday when it was pulling in $900 million a year in revenue, it still makes money ($20 million a year currently), and more importantly it still gets a million unique visitors in a month. So it isn't nearly as popular as it once was, but it isn't gone either; it's still kicking. It just operates in a small niche as opposed to the entire lake.
The surest way for CN to fade away to nothing is to just assume that that fading is inevitable and then decide to just not bother anymore because it isn't going matter anyway. CN is just what we make it, so if we make it crap, it will be crap. Instead, make it great, and the self-fulfilling prophecy will work for us rather than against us.