Please forgive me for thinking I have any information that's helpful about this argument. I lurk here sometimes when I'm bored at work and feel like the amount of time, sweat, and tears that I've put into this game entitle me to some small opinion about it.
As for not being to make friends, well, I can't help with that. If your RP choice is to play a loner then you really can't blame anyone else for it. This is the old adage of "silent type in corner of the tavern" who complains about not getting any RP. The answer was and will be: stop being a silent guy in a corner. You don't need to pour your heart out to random people, but you need to meet new people somehow, something to talk with them about, and not only when you mug them.
I feel it's very easy to place the blame back on the person struggling with this line of thought. Famine could be (and is, if I'm remembering correctly from OtherMU*) a good roleplayer and fully aware of the limitations that playing anything but a social butterfly might hold. This does not mean that they can't still have trouble getting into RP, or that there can't be systems in place that help them to find RP.
I haven't played in a couple years, but when I did the normal flow of RP was either find somebody in a Tavern or already in a Public Space roleplaying and roleplay with them, or do some type of event or some "cry-for-help" that gets the people to you (and this wasn't just for criminal PCs either). The latter can often come off as annoying, or self-deprecating, and people often don't want to do it. I can't imagine that flow has changed much, because TI hasn't changed much. For players like Famine, this can be extremely discouraging, and it's even more discouraging when people tell you it's your fault.
Which Are ones actually maintaining population? Burning post is actually dead, with no one ever online, and that is the closest there is to TI, and it wasn't always dead - it just is dead now. I also don't know where you get unresponsive staff from.
If I read Rabek's original post right, they were saying RP MU*s, which does not translate to The Inquisition themed MUDs. Their statement is true, TI: Legacy has historically had a much smaller population than other roleplaying-enforced MUDs currently in the market. Whether that holds back a player's enjoyment is entirely up to the individual. My best scene was with a single other person. More players definitely gives you more roleplayers to choose from though, which is nice.
Expecting a member of the knights to have mastered a weapon and preferably defense is not asking alot. Don't go placing blame on the policies. I played EM and it was EM before me that instated those policies, though I actually reduced them a bit as the policies then were quite rough, as they required an actual time investment, as even if you had mastered combat, you still had to wait six ooc months to become a full-fledged knight.
And quite honestly people don't join knights because it's the opposite of newbie friendly. No one goes around trying to recruit knights, the help files and boards are from 2013 and there is little show that people are willing to change that. So an actual new player in Knights is likely going to have a bad time. If you want an influx of players, you have to go out and get them, not build it and wait till they come. And a big part of the 2013 mentality is the need for master level skills to be allowed to do anything useful in knights, which is just another relict of the past.
Speaking as somebody who helped to create those requirements however-god-awful-long ago: the lore and organization for every guild is lacking, in various ways, most of them unique to that guild. The Inquisition is a themeset that, so far, has been very reliant on players building their own lore. It's a little sandboxy in that way. The restrictions in the Knights, and formerly in the Brotherhood, were the attempts of various players to try to give new players goals that had weight and were relevant in an effort to make sure that guild ranks were not handed out like candy to satiate players OOCly, but were rather real concrete things that your character would be working for and RPing about for a couple weeks - and throughout that time they would be learning the theme of the guild and their responsibilities. There is, of course, a balance that allows you to make an entertaining challenge, and to provide enjoyable adversity. That was the idea originally, and I don't know how well that's working anymore because I don't play.
You also need to take into consideration the fact that a good majority of the guild helpfiles are NOT written by staff. Most of the organization and helpfiles in guilds are structured by PCs. I know you want an enjoyable, perfect game - but God damn. Cut people some slack.