I believe that the primary issue is that people don't think out their responses to stimuli. People say for example, FFXI started out bare bones, which it did, and their next logical step is "Well, they should have learned from their mistakes." The logical fallacy there is that people just jumped from the fact that it was bare bones to the fact that bare bones is BAD. When in fact they have not set up any arguments to that effect.
Straw man? I don't know any one who says this? Or at least I don't see anyone making this logical leap. SE should have learned from their mistakes, the UI redundancy is one glaring example. SE should also should have learned from experience. SE should have also learned from other MMO's mistakes and successes as well. But what is mind-boggling is that they DID in some respects and totally DIDN'T in others... Plus bare bones can be very bad or at least not as good. I got a pen and some paper, want to play Final Fantasy?
Furthermore, I would portend that they (SE) are using a model that they saw no problems with, perhaps because they did not do a global release, instead they did a purely domestic release. And as such, did not get the full gamut of feedback, or perhaps as has been stated, the MMO market was in its infancy and was willing to accept anything and be patient...
That brings us to our current situation, people are upset that the game is bare bones in its current state. I submit to you that there are in fact things to be done in the game, outside of leves, crafting, exploration, bartering, making gil, exploration of the classes, mixing of class abilities, exploration of party dynamics, and gathering. There is a social dynamic to be found as well.
I'm more upset not with it's connection or lack thereof to FFXI but the fact that FFXIV was in Beta for a while. And SE did their own Q and A's with a lot of players prior to release whose complaints they either ignored or ignored due to time constraints/early release.
As far as your list of things to do: Crafting, not my thing. Exploration, done it. Bartering, not my thing. Making gil, have 1 million (nothing to buy). Leveled most classes, nothing really interesting. Partying, I'm sure is fun, but no one uses the party system. Socially: There were at last count 800 people on my server and no one really talked in the general chat, except well, to barter.
Tolkien said it best, "There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”
If you want to have a positive gaming experience, You Will have a positive gaming experience. It's not about sitting in a corner, with your fingers in your ears, rocking back and forth, screaming la-la-la-la-la, when someone comes up with major faults in the game's design. It's about openly admitting there are faults, maybe they are blaring to some people...they aren't to everyone.
If you want to find something you like. You will find something you like.
I can trick myself into liking anything it doesn't mean that it is an authentically fun experience. Or maybe, given the benefit of the doubt, the game isn't that bad but could be so much better and is a let down because the game isn't up to par with current MMO's in most respects.