You are right there are some sites in this thread that have probably been unfairly hit, but if you read what Google are saying, they are not going to make manual exceptions based on posting in this thread.
Re: "Your comments about 'free ride' are hard to understand. Who is getting
the free ride, the site owners who invest enormous amounts in creating
the content, or Google?"
You and I are getting the free ride in that you and I are getting free traffic from Google. We are paying nothing to Google for that traffic. We are obviously paying a lot of money for hosting, content etc, but we not paying that money to Google. Google have no obligation what so ever to provide any site with any sort of traffic. They can rank sites however they like, they are their search results. If you choose to build a business based on that free traffic, then that is your choice. The folly of that business model is obvious. Every major update over the last 10 or so yrs have shown how bad that business model is for the long term.
A good internet business model is not dependant on free traffic from google. That should be considered the "icing on the cake".