I just don't get the contradiction of more and more collectors who collect paper objects, but demand all of the literature must be online AND free. … Does an author or their related society have an obligation to release their life's work for free?
Absurdum ad hominem does not fly with me; in no way did I advocate giving away everything for free. The point of my post was that philatelic sites have to be informationally competitive and should visit their sites from the perspective of a casual
collector (as opposed to someone who is already a serious collector in the specialty). I repeated several times that they should be using the site as a way to generate new interest with casual collectors.
As a person who has donated more than 1500+ man hours per year over the last 6 years I also found your post demoralizing. I am currently busting my butt digitalizing 50 years of La Posta to make it freely available to all. This is not done as an 'obligation' but rather to help our hobby and generate new interest in postal history. By increasing awareness in postal history the hope is that it will also increase paying subscribers. Do you feel that this is not a feasible expectation?
I also view this free community as a great way to increase awareness and interest in our hobby. And rather than charge for memberships the approach is to generate traffic which in turn opens up alternative income via banners, affiliate links, and donations. Do you feel that this has not been a feasible approach?
In my opinion it is important for philately to transition to new profit centers while being informationally competitive. This does not mean 'giving away the farm' but it does mean that you have to turn traffic into income.