Thanks again for discussing the issues, this has been a mystery to me.
I think there is a second issue with the status quo, that affects new WikiTree users. I missed this because, when I joined I started with myself, added my brother and worked my way up. The only person I added who was living was myself. Only recently, as I have worked on descendants, DNA cousins, have I begun to add living persons. ( I have been a member about a year).
I think the majority of new members will start adding themselves, their living parents, aunts, uncles, cousins. All of these will be private. Their introduction to WikiTree stresses a universal tree and collaboration, but the "learning by doing" experience trains them to set up a private tree that connects to no-one outside. By the time they start adding deceased ancestors, they have come to the conclusion that they can just make everyone private. That is what WikiTree has forced them to do for the first dozen entries.
AND - it is confusing - it has certainly confused me and I have been a member for a year.
One benefit of limiting "Living Relatives" to only close relatives, is that it teaches that a member is to connect to public profiles, not the opposite. Another benefit is that it would limit the number of Private Profiles that will eventually drop into the public sphere. I have a vision of this swamping WikiTree in about a hundred years, not to mention filling up the databases and servers with duplicate profiles. I suspect that a high percentage of these will not be worth much.
Well, those are my thoughts.
I think for myself, I will simply restrain in the future from adding living people. I can add them to my desktop tree.