I've been through this cycle with people on my sites. Back in 2000 when I launched CoasterBuzz, it was for fun. At some point, when bandwidth was less cheap, I started to allow pop-up ads. In late 2001, I also started a coaster enthusiast club, which included the site ad-free and a couple of minor extra features. I had to do this because I wasn't going to keep paying for it out of pocket as it got more popular. This was a time when renting a box with lots of bandwidth was running a grand a month.
There was a lot of backlash from it, believe it or not, when I started to offer subscriptions. I said then what I still say, and that is that everything on the Internet has to be paid for one way or another. That's just the way it is. The thing no one counted on was that people will pay for things they care about if the price is right. Turns out $20 a year isn't so bad when you pay more than that for some magazines, and you certainly get more mileage out of a daily site than you do a magazine. Offer the right value proposition and people will pay.
But still people bitched and moaned, but yet couldn't stay away. It didn't make any sense. Now it looks like some people are going through that with this blog site. I'm surprised that Live Journal still offers freebies. I would've quit that a long time ago.
There's still another wave of disgust on the way though, and that's one where people who can make a few bucks off of their sites get blasted for being capitalist pigs. It's like you're supposed to give all that time and energy just out of the goodness of your heart and let that be your reward. I know that the coaster enthusiast community has a bit of that already, and it's ridiculous. Just as TV shows are rewarded with higher ad rates due to popularity, so it goes with Web sites. I'm not going to apologize for success. It's not like I'm buying a yacht and 4,000 square feet on land from my little Web sites!
It seems like yet another thing about the Internet that defies logic. If history is any indication, this too will eventually adjust itself to something resembling normalcy.