Nobody is being forced to used 1.9 threads and although they can be a very fast way of leveling your GB's, for many new players sniping positions in your neighborhood is, as you say, a legit way to play aiming to get more FP's back than they invest.I don't support the 1.9 convention at all.
Often for the first few weeks or months, they don't understand 1.9 and feel happy to use swap threads even if it costs them more fp. The top guilds are generally the most demanding, very strict, and do not always suit everyone. Finding a friend can make a big difference and if it wasn't for my guild leader I probably wouldn't still be here.
FOE is not best a solo player's game because at some point most players need help for goods to build an arc or another above age GB. Joining a guild that suits you can be the difference between playing weeks or years.
The game is what you make it so good luck.