I'd like to take a few minutes to contradict what is being discussed and show that it's not entirely our fault that new people are hesitant to try making a map. Strong language will make its occasional appearance, but excuse my temper over hearing stuff like this.
I see many people bitching constantly that gameplay is all that matters. NO IT IS NOT. You want to make a box with slopes, slap in some random textures and lights that make no freaking sense and call it a map? It's within your rights. As it is within OUR RIGHTS to say that caring only about how a map plays and not looks proves how little you really know. Gameplay mattered in a time where visual pleasures were so limited it seemed like a dream. Today, people want both a good gameplay and visuals that are pleasing enough for them to think "this map is truly great".
I'm sorry to disappoint you layout-extremists, but if i see a map that only focuses on having a good layout, it's an immediate turn-down for me. It proves to me that the author does not care to finish his map and wrap it up in such a way that sparks my interest in exploring it, learning it in a deeper manner and actually enjoying it for both how it plays and how it feels.
You keep saying that more time should be spent making layouts than working on the aesthetics, but OH GUESS WHAT, if the map sucks visually, you can't really concentrate on gameplay, can you? Of course this doesn't apply to people who use /texreduce for every match, but for the average player, both gameplay and visuals form his opinion about the map.
I do not care about themes, and if a specific theme is repeated. You can never have enough maps of the same theme unless they share the same layout, in which case that doesn't make sense. Being someone who pays attention to detail and logic, i really will pick on everything that seems out of place or is incorrect even if it is as small as a mismatching corner of cube out of view. I look out for people and encourage them to take time and optimize their work. Their wasted time is your extra frame on the counter.
In case you dolts out there haven't realized yet, the layout is the base of the map. It's difficulty in the making depends on the size of the map and its THEME, and can take a rather long time to finalize depending on the experience of the mapper. Furthermore, good players DO NOT MAKE good mappers. Being a good player in no way qualifies you as someone with experience over making layouts, EVER. You will learn what flows right and what not, but making layouts is an art and cannot be learnt by just playing the game.
It is true and highly justifiable that new layouts are requested. You will of course learn from others, but copying their layouts and basing your work on them is never a good idea. You want to show the others you can map as well as them? PROVE IT. Make a good layout and WORK on it. As for the licenses, shit don't matter unless it's copyright or the author was last seen at the date he posted his map and a year has passed since then. You can always ask him for permission, but i guess that is a thought so complex and deep some people have difficulty realizing and acting upon it. There's no shame in it, it's what we do.
Now regarding what Jorge said.
Yes Jorge, it is true that many smaller maps should be made to better accommodate the scale of the community and the average match size. However, larger maps allow a mapper to better express a layout and unfold unique tactics not possible on smaller maps. Reissen is a very good example of a unique tactical map.
It is also true that many good maps are not given a chance to prove their worth since, if i may say so, eihrul is much more cautious about what goes in and out than he should. Nieb is given much more credit than any mapper due to the fact that he's been around the longest and practically works his own layouts with his own textures, his own models and his own sounds. However, he is given free access to the source and can add his maps in without as much as a comment from the rest of the community over the quality of the work.
And you know what? It IS WRONG. Good maps, even if a bit faulty should be given a chance to prove their worth, and the community will make the final decision over what should be kept and what not.
However i will disagree on your point about focusing more on the gameplay. As i clarified earlier, the layout is the base of the map, end everything else is based upon it. Especially the visual aspects. How long that process takes to finish depends on the speed of the mapper, his imagination, his patience and whether he'll keep things simple or go a step further. You might bring up examples of turbine and ot, but as i said, it depends on the level of detail the mapper chooses to give the map. Excessive detail work and other visual bits do not bog down the gameplay if the mapper is experienced with what he's doing.
I believe that's all i had to say, but i might add up more paragraphs if i feel like it.