OK, this post is getting to the heart of the matter, as I see it.
In our campaigns, we actually used a multi-page survey. I'm not suggesting it for others, just saying what we did, for edification. After answering 70 questions or so ("How strong is the order?", "How prevailent is the Divine?" "How high the fantasy level?", etc.) the SG knew really well what kind of stories people wanted to play. So, yes, I get social contracts, and I get how the game is more fun when people agree (or compromise) on many details up front. I could argue that we go far, far more in-depth in making a social contract than the cannon suggests.
And here also is the heart of my disagreement. The second half of your sentence. "And you get a bonus for doing so." The bonus is that the game is more fun by all. The handing out of a virtue point seems really arbitrary to me. Why not give each starting player 5 pawns of vis instead? For me, the creating of a social contract is outside the game, and its its own reward, so handing out an in-game character modifier seems extraneous (to me). And of all the rewards to give, I like giving a virtue the least of all.
Why? Because you really aren't giving a virtue. If the player wants 10 virtues, he gets 10 virtues. The gift you're giving is really one less flaw. And to me, virtues, flaws, and story hooks are all 100% equal in defining a character and providing story fodder. So, to me, is actually a net loss, not a gift. IMO!
And thank you for susinctly stating that (though I'd add General Flaws to the Personality ones above). Maybe this is where I deviate from the community so drastically. And I wish I had been able to state it as susinctly as you just did. I relish the proactive stories. Mostly because (from my experience) once the campaign goes proactive, the players become far more invested. I think that is the true magic of Ars. Most systems promote reactive stories (from my experience). Ars uniquely excels at PROactive stories. So, I like seeing more "general" flaws. It is not that I'm a sadist. I am capable of running non-flaw based stories (shame on that rumor). I just find that the players (and I) love going PROactive. If others are less inclined in that preference, I can see them not getting my concern or agreeing with me.
Now, maybe you left General Flaws out of that sentence on purpose. If so, then we do disagree on that point.
I'm not sure I see why you say this. Picking characteristics is separate and compulsory. Same with abilities, virtues, flaws, your house, your arts, etc. The amount of care a given player puts into any one of those, I would bet would be the same amount of care (s)he puts into all sections. I can see the rationale in Ars5, I just don't see the imperative. And because of my preferences stated in the 2 preceding paragraphs, its a slight negative (to me).
Look. I don't expect anyone on a forum to consider my points with any real seriousness. I do thank you for the discussion. Moreover, I thank all who have contributed to the game over the years. You've ruined all other RPG's for me. I mean no malice in disagreeing on this one topic. I only started this thread because I needed help fast. I know other people have gone through this. But obviously, they went through it 7 years ago.