So, Mearls has revealed his grandiose plans behind all the polling: dialogue. Yep, that's right, dialogue. He likens it to "convention dialogue", with the polls allowing you to respond (that, and the D&D Insider email link inviting you to pitch in your two coppers). Apparently, some people thought that they were for market research (despite WotC obviously already having an actual department for that), which doesn't surprise me given how a vocal minority seems to perceive WotC's understanding of the consumer base. Of course, and even smaller percentage are more than happy to take it to the next level.
I find it very odd how a (thankfully) minority of Paizo's fans are not happy--or even content--with
their 3rd Edition re-hash Pathfinder that, to varying degress, does what they want. Apparently, that's not good enough. They have to put a spin on any D&D release, purported change, and commentary from the staff as not only a sign that 4th Edition is obviously floundering, but that Paizo is likewise obviously much more successful. They hope that any day now the designers over at Wizards of the Coast will realize the "errors" of their ways and come crawling back...but of course by then it'll be "too late".
"Many people are leaving 4th Edition for Pathfinder (often coupled with WotC making obviously stupid decisions and/or blatantly disregarding the "majority")", "not going with the OGL was a major mistake, and WotC is suffering from it/Paizo is thriving because of it", "4th Edition is dying, and Pathfinder is set to replace it", and so on and so forth. These statements, and many more like them, smack of a combination of desperation, insecurity, and ignorance.
Remember awhile back, when that quarterly report was released that showed both D&D and Pathfinder tied for first place? Some fans of Pathfinder took that to mean that either 4th Edition was dying, Pathfinder was picking up, or both...except those sales reports only took into account what store owners reported, and doesn't include actual sales data (or online sales, including DDI subscriptions). In all actuality, both games are doing well enough that their respective companies still create content to support them (though I doubt Pathfinder is even doing as well as D&D).
Mearls started doing these articles to talk about the history of the game, its future, and to get a handle on what we think about the game, "we" being those that respond to the polls or send feeback email messages. Me? I really can't go to D&D XP or GenCon, so this is the best (only?) way for me to voice my opinion and ask some questions of my own. I'm glad that he took the chance to engage in some kind of discourse, and it's kind of petty that people are trying to twist these columns around. At any rate, it's nice that out of all the people that responded, around two-thirds prefer 4th Edition to the rest. :-P