1. Even some of the long standing defenders of the game are having trouble continuing to do so. Phineas Poe used to be one of Guru's most indefatigable "white knights" until just recently. Even the infamous Vayne on the official forums has been posting occasional criticisms and moderating his praise posts. After two years of reading both Guru and the official forums, it looks like only relative newcomers can sustain untempered positivity for the game. I suppose you could just chalk that up to the fact that everyone gets tired of something eventually, but it seems like more than that. People seem to have real trouble defending ArenaNet consistently over a significant period of time.
I will always stand by the notion that issues are never as severe as people make them out to be and that there is no real reason to assume nefarious intent on the part of developers most of the time. And I dislike the usage of terms like white knighting to define people who have positive opinions about things that others disagree with. It's subtle (and sometimes not very subtle) ad hominem and really has no place in civil discussions. That being said, I will call a spade a spade when it's warranted. If I have legitimate criticisms, I make them known and state my rationale for them. And if I feel something is fine or even good even if contrary to somebody else's opinion, I will say so as well and again state my rationale. I'm not going to sugarcoat but I'm also not going to pour vinegar in the tank either. Kneejerk reactions one way or the other rarely turn out to be validated as often as one thinks.
The tug of war between positive and negative perceptions never ceases. I think you're onto something as A-Net's community management and management of expectations has been problematic. But as far as diminishing returns go, how worth it is it really for A-Net or any game company to coddle a potentially schizophrenic fanbase that turns docile and mad at the drop of a hat? If anything, doing so results in the fractured game design vision that many seem to point out is A-Net's main fault. They should really just put their heads down, decide on a clear design path to go forward and stick to it even if it alienates a part of their playerbase. If it ends up that the game you or I want gets put on the wayside, then we can both just let it ride (just like Phineas) and play something else. No reason to stay if it's not what you want. But at least for the rest of the playerbase, it will only give them more consistent results. Check based time sink play might be what they've been wanting all along. A-Net should either keep going that way or turn the boat around. No halfsies.