Fans and Devs: Where’s the Middle Ground?

Whether we're talking about a nostalgic favorite game, or a beloved game series, online spaces have become hostile territory where devs have to tread lightly rather than being spaces for discussion and enjoyment of games. Devs are backed into corners, asked to justify their choices. Is that necessary? Where does the line exist between listening to one's audience and "caving" to their demands? How does one participate in productive conversations with fans so both can learn and grow?