It is a Catch-22 Bob,
On the one hand we want everyone to be able to contribute valuable new information about their ancestors (or other people's ancestors for that matter)... at the same time there is so much "garbage genealogy" in circulation - ranging from simple typos to deliberate frauds, all being repeated ad infinitum across the internet- that a truly obscene amount of time was wasted doing the same merges and making the same "repairs" to the same profiles over, and over, and over as new contributors repeated the same oft-made but already disproven claims.
The, as you call them, "1700 and 1500 date barriers", as well as restrictions on GEDCOM uploads, were put in place alongside the already existing "PPP Protection" to try and mitigate the problem. Certainly it has caused some minor 'annoyances' (like fixing date typos) but I think it has, on the whole, helped make the 'deep' ancestor profiles better, helped retain 'talent', and also created minor goals people can "aspire to" achieving.
I certainly didn't find the pre-1700 badge onerous to obtain, and since getting it I think I have "needed" to work on 18 profiles that require it.