Maybe things have changed. But I can't help but feel this is still an issue. And if things go according to plan for the server, it will become an even bigger issue. (Plan = increased player base with EE)
So for those that don't know me - I've been an on again off again player for years. I used to DM under the name King in Yellow - got bitter and jaded and now come back a bit, until I get frustrated and run off screaming in to the Canadian wilderness. Just putting it out there that I'm maybe operating off old observations that may no longer be relevant and I am a bitter grumpy old man.
Be they application characters or otherwise, players are encouraged to create their own stories, their own drama, and do as much of this with out DM oversight and still be fun and inclusive. And from what I've seen in my most recent of stint back, the player base is nailing it pretty well. Players make some noise, get rewards and see actual action take place. It is still slow to see reflected on the server, but players need patience. I know there are few things as draining for a DM to open up the module for the seventh time in a week just to change a name on a plaque or something. So - playerside - peeps still gotta be respectful and chill.
But that is a two way thing. I've seen lots of players who are jaw droppingly awesome. Almost every pc knows them, they have their hands in almost every pie (and trust me Krust knows about pies) and then work for weeks, sometimes months to move their plans in a particular way, then come across something that needs DM approval or oversight.
This maybe they want to strike a deal with an NPC house, leverage some influence gained with PC or DM factions (all player driven) to get something from an NPC, or maybe it is just a promotion or reward or acceptance to a DM faction. And they get a curt, often OOC message, often public - that basically amounts to 'So - who the heck are you?'
Maybe this doesn't happen as often as it used to. But it makes players afraid to even try. I mean, why bother starting your own plots, with out DM oversight if you get that kind of attitude. Why bother trying to impress PC in positions of power when clearly you need the eye of a DM to get noticed.
In my mind, the solution is an extra step before the 'Who the hell are you?' statement. The DM team should either just put faith in players who's characters technically have the power to do things like promotions and what not. Or in cases where an PC is trying to make a power play, before they respond to the letter, maybe ask around a bit. Tap a few prominent players who have their ear to the ground, check the forums for activity see what this person has been up to. There is loads of info, no human can keep up, but a few extra minutes of research into a players activities can mean a big difference.
And the difference is motivation. I am lucky. I consider myself a fairly well regarded player. I never have problems getting involved in plots. And as a former DM, there is a bit more trust shown with my choices. This isn't favoritism, I get told no so many times. (Hell... I remember when the DM's famously shot down one of Molochs app characters... Trust me kids. DM status isn't a free ride to unicorn city)
BUT when I see a DM come off as aggressive (or passive aggressive) with an OOC 'who the hell are you?' or something similar - I feel demotivated. I can only imagine what the player who has put the work into it all feels like. And more passive or timid players maybe completely discouraged from even trying.
So - is this still a problem? Is there a solution? Do the DM's think this is an actual issue? With more players (hopefully) on the horizons, we will have less eyes on player activity than we do now. IMO this is a pretty big issue that should be addressed now. But I've been known to make mountains out of molehills. That said - as always - if people are not comfortable speaking publicly about this, feel free to drop me a private message if you want any thoughts brought up anonymously.
*EDIT: MOLOCH - Tossing a direct link to my response which, hopefully, addresses the FULL point here of how much it sucks to be a player who thinks you're accomplishing cool things only to have a DM admit they have no idea who your character is because this is exactly how the DM team asks people to approach things already to avoid this problem that comes up now and then. tl;dr - send in applications and talk to DMs privately when you want to do things in game and work with us to figure out how to accomplish them in a way that is fun for everyone!