And when the go-to solution for 90% of this game's problems is "don't play with randoms", that's pretty hard to dispute. In fact, the only way to reliably get anything done is to forsake the entire community by playing either alone or strictly within the confines of a closely-guarded sub-community.
EDUCATE YOUR OWN PLAYERS
This game is only 6 months old, but it's already far too complex for your typical Open Crew player to simply "jump in". Let's face it, this whole "community learning" thing that you were going for isn't working anymore. Having to explain fundamental game concepts (such as the difference between the types of skeletons, or why angling the sails is helpful) is a daily occurrence. The overall quality of your average player hasn't improved one bit. These people can barely manage to keep a ship afloat unsupervised in ideal conditions, and now you expect them to do so in a literal firestorm? C'mon, man.
This game needs a proper tutorial; something more in-depth than eating a banana and looking at a map. Furthermore, you need to separate new players from the general population until they show an understanding of core game mechanics. Doing so will benefit new and veteran players alike. Learning is more organic when everyone is discovering together, which is why community learning worked so well in the betas. Nowadays, though, people who have been with the game since the betas are getting sick of babysitting rookies, and answering the same questions they've been answering for over 6 months now. It's a very basic form of skill-based matchmaking, but it would be invaluable in not only streamlining the experience for veterans, but also in recapturing the glory days of community learning.
Additionally, You need to centralize your information, and make it accessible from within the game itself. The most we get is whatever you can squeeze into 2 lines at the bottom of a loading screen. If you want patch notes, scheduled maintenance reminders, and dev updates & livestreams to be accessible to everyone who plays the game, make them accessible from within the game. Stick some buttons on the main menu, or loading screens, or options menu. Xbox has free apps for youtube, twitch, and mixer, so there's no reason not to.
MATCHMAKING IS NOT MY JOB
As if finding competent players wasn't enough of an obstacle, we face the added task of finding players who also have similar goals (which is harder than splitting a pizza with a vegan). It sure would be nice if there were a system in place to automatically pair up players based on similar goals and/or skill level. You know, the kind of system that just about EVERY other multiplayer game has? Instead, I have to take the extra steps to find my own crew from 3rd party sources before I even load up the game. Even at that, the people on the other end of these 3rd party sources are essentially just more Randoms. There's no guarantee these people won't get bored of doing what was outlined in the post 10 minutes after joining, or that they won't be insufferable pre-pubescent racists, or that they were being honest about their competency, or that the entire post wasn't just one big troll trap to begin with.
Xbox LFG is a mess. You can spend an hour waiting for a good post to pop up, only to have your request be completely ignored.
Forums are useless. It's all take-everyone megafleets, which, again, equates to nothing more than a smaller selection of Randoms.
Any time I try to make a post on these services, I either get ignored completely, or I only get replies similar to "I know you specifically said competent & mature players, but I'm neither, will you carry me?"
I don't have access to Discord when I play Xbox, so I haven't tried there, because I don't feel like inviting the headache of having to explain that to every. single. group.
DO LITERALLY ~ANYTHING~ ABOUT THE GRIEFERS & TOXICITY
You regularly offer up new and interesting content, but with each update comes a new way to abuse it. Abuse that you've done absolutely nothing to rectify, mitigate, or even acknowledge. These griefers are driving people away from your game. That's their entire goal, they are ACTIVELY TRYING to make people stop playing your game, and you're repeatedly handing them the means to do so on a silver platter.
Alliances are a prime example (yet another thing that your typical Open Crew player doesn't know how to use, or what it even does). The alliance flag may as well be an invitation-only Reaper's Mark with how frequently it's abused.
Cursed Cannonballs, another good example. They bring such a welcome level of depth to ship-to-ship combat. Except... Better not store them in your barrels, or else some random is going to join your crew, scoop up your entire reserve (because you can carry like, 500 at a time for some reason), and log out.
Reporting another player needs to be a much more streamlined process. Currently you have 2 options: Through the xbox guide/app, or here on the forums. Neither of these is an immediate solution by any stretch of the imagination. Not to mention, things that violate the "Pirate's Code" may not violate Microsoft TOS (or vice-versa), so you either have to pull double duty and report a player twice, or pick one and hope it works out. If the person you're reporting isn't on your crew, well... hope you can manage to spell their gamertag, 'cause chances are they're not going to show up in your Recent Players list, which is literally the only record of your encounters with other crews.
As for as the brig, well.... Correct me if I'm wrong, but last I checked, the brig wasn't entirely inescapable. Yet another abuse you've completely neglected since the betas. I know you know about it, I saw the video that was removed from your forums months ago.
GET A GOOD HONEST LOOK AT YOUR PLAYERBASE
You folks at Rare like taking on community challenges, yeah? Well, I got one for ya: Change your gamertags, & take down your Rare sails so that nobody recognizes you. You are not allowed to let other players know you are affiliated with Rare under ANY circumstance. Each of you start your own separate Closed Crew session, and do not allow friends to join. Start an Athena's voyage. This is the ONLY physical interaction that you, yourself are allowed to have with the game world; No operating the ship, no collecting resources from barrels, no fighting skeletons, no digging for or carrying treasure, no touching cargo. Now, change your crew type to Open. Your goal is to complete the voyage by instructing whatever random player joins the crew.
Even if you don't stream this (which you absolutely could, since I can almost guarantee it's going to take 3 hours minimum), you really should do this for a better understanding of what your community is capable of, versus whatever you think it is.
This last one doesn't have anything to do with the community, but since I'm already standing up here on this soapbox...
5. VIDEO GAMES DON'T RUN ON QUARTERS ANYMORE
Rare, we need to talk. You have a long-standing history of making games that are beautiful to look at, and engineering exploration that's just enticing enough to be rewarding, but not too distracting from the overall objectives. But when it comes to your methods of difficulty scaling, your art is... less elegant. While that may have been excellent for business back when every death cost the player 25 cents, nowadays it's just frustrating, and needlessly so. Death in Sea of Thieves equates to nothing more than sitting in time-out for a free heal, free ammo, and a free ride back to your boat. So to counter that, you float the idea of a Death Tax? Game Over. Insert 25 gold to continue. Yeesh. Talk about clinging to glories gone by.
Are you serious with this bull[self-edit]? With their spawn rates of 2-3 groups per chest (and that's just when you're still digging it up), their Psycho-Mantis-esque timing on the sidesteps & cutlass blocks, their ability to somehow always shoot you a millisecond before your cutlass staggers them, their endless supply of ammunition and bananas, their ability to cancel your lunge with a single blow when it takes up to 3 to cancel theirs, their ability to switch targets without resetting their aim timer... Not one single aspect of fighting Legendary-level skeletons is genuinely difficult, OR fun. It's all blatant disregard for the set of limitations that you, yourself, imposed on combat in this game, specifically for the sake of balance.
But we, the PIRATES, are the ones who have to fight fair?