I've played off and on since '04, too. More 'off' since ~2012, but I still come back and give it a try again usually 2 - 3 times a year. I definitely agree with a lot of what you've said.
One thing I would really call out, though, that seems to me as maybe 25% CCP's fault and 75% the playerbase's fault that's been a roadblock to me getting back in the game is the unwillingness to make risky trust decisions / meta-gaming about spies.
I'll grant that CCP carries some of the blame here for making it difficult for corps / alliances to function without giving risky amounts of power to players, and also by taking away some of the API stuff.
That being said, I remember back in the day joining ASCN with very little vetting basically because an in-game acquaintance vouched for me. These days you can't hardly join even a casual carebear corp without handing over screenshots of your login screen, captures of your log folders, god knows what else.
I dunno, maybe I'm paranoid, but like...the whole way that phishing works a lot of the time is because it's not obvious to the victim how innocuous-seeming info might be used against them. I can't always say how exactly the joining requirements might compromise my account, but a lot of the shit people ask for these days, especially since getting rid of API, feels really invasive.
I feel like CCP could step in and outline for corp-seekers some things that they guarantee it is Definitely Safe to provide to recruiters, and then make it bannable to ask for anything outside of that. I get maybe, maybe, you don't want to hand over Director power of your cap-building corp to somebody without having a peek at their alts, but if you can't just hire a baseline grunt who just wants to casually pewpew without asking for everything but their SSN, maybe you need to HTFU and / or quit being fucking lazy and handing out roles like candy because it's easier than building proper trust relationships.