This is an interesting debate from many different directions.
The Internet Chess Club went through a similar issue. Whebn the developers and those involved at the top (mods, programmers, assistants) got into logger-heads it was all about the commercialisation of the site. Thos in charge decided that enough was done and it was the best chess site on the net so it decided to close off certain people and up the fees. The result for those in charge was unexpected. FICS (free internet chess club) was born. People split off and to this day FICS is much larger than ICC. Sure, more grandmasters play on ICC than FICS but most people who play chess online are not grandmasters! Moreover, grandmasters get free entry to FICS and what grandmaster would want to play a 100, 1400, 1800 or even 2000 rated player? Indeed, what's the point in playing there other than to "be seen" or "try new ideas with their mates" or "play other grandmasters". This form of elitism may attract those international masters (the rank below grandmasters) who can usefully learn from mistakes or new idea - but anyone can do that by following grandmaster games. So ICC dwindles and one can only hope can see the error of its ways.
I am impressed by CC (Conquer Club) that it has meshed pay-things (membership and things for sale) with free-things (a limited taste of the website and involvement in extraneous activities by its members (freemium and premiun) such as chat, forums, mafia and most notably the foundry. Sure the heads here own this site and we all partake on the understanding that things may one day change no-one would expect things to change to the extent that the foundry would go. Go, are you kidding?
Frankly, the foundry the the backbone of this website. I believe that lack knows that and I can't help wondering whether all this is about Lack and others finding out whether we as a community really value it too. Well, we do!
And I can only hope and pray that we don't end up going down the track of loosing such amazing talent as Natty Dread or DiM or ... well too many to mention ... or worse people just leaving the site in droves and the inevitability of something else coming along and ruining this site for good! No, we all love this place and spend so much time and effort here. Don't let the foundry die - respect your followers, your people, your strength! And we in turn will respect you right back!
Perhaps now would be a goof time, Lack or other "senior", to pop in and provide some reassurance. I feel the inevitable grip of inevitability and fate's teeth otherwise!