I disagree with you somwehat here. I was given a copy of RISC OS 6 to update Tinct to work with 64k modes, and I was fairly impressed with the amount their desktop has changed for the better since RISC OS 4. Simple user-facing things like DHCP and copy/paste throughout the GUI made life so much easier. The image thumbnailing was also good, and !Paint and friends felt nicer too.
As a developer though, I consider the fact they haven't passed-back their non-user facing changes as both disapointing and harmful. The obvious examples being the image conversion module and alpha-transparency sprites.
I'd also have liked complete documentation of the (thousands of?) bugs they've squashed so I could be aware as a developer of what to be careful of -- just a simple online database of modules and the changes would have done. I assume (danger, Will Robinson!) this is also true for the ROOL developments.
All in all, I'd say that ROL didn't manage to get developers on their side enough, whereas ROOL are thankfully doing the opposite. The general issue with giving things away for free though is that Joe Public who can't contribute code and wants to have rounded buttons and a graduated background won't ever get to see them. Given the choice, I'd personally rather have a Unicode FontManager -- but I doubt a very high percentage of users even know the difference RISC OS 5's makes.
I think you're right that ROL is effectively over, but let's not pretend they didn't achieve anything worth keeping. I hope they can work something out with ROOL and not have their work become 'insignificant' by passing across some of their advancements so they can be merged rather than re-implemented.