I was going to save this for Monday to let it stew some more, but Mythmere's post crystallized the issue. I'm just reporting facts below - my posting volume and continued contributions should indicate that the below is just a observation, that is only a smidgeon rantish.
I've released everything I've done for free, and it was a terrible terrible mistake that drastically undervalued the time and effort I put into it.
I released it for free, not out of a lack of ego investment or self-motivation, but because I wanted to contribute to the community. I do not 'need' the money, what I desired was communication, interaction, and community.
The community's response, nearly 1000 downloads of *each* of my documents and little more then a dozen comments. Barring James (of the Underdark Gazette who I've talked to over e-mail about this) and Simon and Andreas there was no one who commented on the .pdf's I released under the Alexandrian license who's only requirement is that you comment. (Locks & Keys was released under this license, and had 131 downloads. And 3 comments not by me - after I pointed it out in a different post over a week later.)
The psionics document, was a group effort, and has art, was designed by a professional layout designer, was playtested extensively, and provides a cohesive psionics system for old school games. It took hundreds of hours to create, has a class, four kits, over 60+ psionic powers, is totally compatible with 1st edition psionics, adds quick reference for easy use - we even made magic items, encounter tables, and background training tables. It's indexed and well organized. A 44 page professional document. It was my first work, and it has its flaws, but it's good work.
The general consensus? Psionics are stupid and I wasted my time. This for a system that works with Hackmaster perfectly (which is missing psionic rules) LL, OSRIC, and S&W (none of which have them) and streamlines the tables from anyone running an actual first edition game. (In spite of the lack of any feedback psionics had 93 downloads in March and 41 in April)
Note that this didn't stop me, I made treasure and tricks after that. I figured I was making them for me - why not release them to the public.
So, I am not receiving the one thing I'm seeking, partially because I am not charging money for my work - which makes other people devalue it. It's not a mistake I plan on continuing to make. This way, if they want it they can pay, and since they are using money to overcome their social obligation, I won't care if they comment or not. I would just think they would rather comment, but apparently not. This is an extension of the general gestalt of the community - art and resource posts don't draw comments and navel gazing does. Some people have figured this out long ago (Uh, all the big ones) I'm apparently just realizing now how silly it was to expect people to want to comment instead of pay.
Now before my tone is wildly misconstrued, I will point out that I continue to release quality works for free.
I know that text doesn't communicate this, but I'm not really bothered by the above. I'll leave everything I've released free forever, but when I redo things and release them in the future, I'll take money instead of thanks.
The weird thing is, I think that's really the way people prefer it.
P.S. I've already paid the Joskey tax 100 times over. :-)
Edit: I can say now, from 2014 that it goes both ways! Not only was On the Non-Player Character super successful, but there's a ton of big-hearted people out there making my Patreon Campaign an astounding success!