This issue has been bothering me as well, lately. I feel like this site is turning into a huge trove of free-research resources.
A word from our sponsor
I noticed that Joel (co-founder of StackExchange) made a recent post where he indicates that AskPatents was setup in a partial-collaboration with the USPTO.
By the presentation of his post, this site is largely designed to catch and stop patent trolls
While I'm OK with preventing bad patents, I don't know how to reconcile the opaque community style, where people cannot yet be sure whether they are helping the USPTO (presumably neutral), or a corporate competitor.
The core issue
This is a potential conflict of interest.
I don't trust the motives of the corporations, who could try to use this community to their strategic gain. I have no reason to believe they are being either moral or just, when calling-to-arms activists to a legal war that financially benefits them. If I act on their desires, I could actually hurt more individual / small inventors.
I wish this site could have a mechanism like Reddit.com/r/AMA, which is to establish the true identity of an account-holder.
This would ensure that volunteer time is going towards public-service purposes, not just providing free research to those managing corporate patent portfolios. The thought that such people are posting most of the prior art request disgusts me a little, actually.