I am continually amazed that one of the most popular topics to discuss on RPG message boards is the subject or "railroading". Railroading is a pejorative term used to describe a style of running a game in which the sequence of events which the characters face and the results of those events are to various degrees controlled by the Game Master. That is for example, if a GM decides that he doesn't want the PCs to be able to kill a bad guy at their current stage of the adventure, and so makes doing so impossible, it is considered a railroad by some. If a GM designed an encounter and eliminates all options for the PCs to avoid it, it is considered a railroad by some.
The degree and range of what players consider railroads varies widely. I've seen players describe impassable topography as "railroading". What is perfectly acceptable underground... corridors and locked doors that limit options... above ground (impassible mountains, lakes of lava) become railroads. Dragonlance is derided as the pinnacle of railroading.
Frankly, I find it all a bit bewildering. Not so much that this poster or that on an online forum have their opinions. I mean geez, we are a peculiar lot, and probably give WAY more thought into the complexities of playing tabletop RPGs than 90 percent of players you will actually ever meet at a table. But it is like if you choose to be in the least bit a "story driven" GM, that somehow you are not only maligning the reputation of the entire hobby, but that your contagion might make it way over to their very table, and destroy their ability to ever enjoy the game again.
People like their "mega-dungeons". They like their "emergent stories". And for every descriptor you can give a game, there is a wide array of individual instances and exceptions to what people actually mean when they use these terms. For me as a player, I tend to hate it when there isn't a clear goal for a party to undertake. I don't like wandering around in game worlds looking for something to do, and am given two or three options, all of which equally don't have anything to do with my character and his personal motivations.
I like a big red sign that says "THIS WAY TO YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE!".
And I like to have a reason for adventuring besides "killing stuff and getting gold".
As a GM, I play as much for my own enjoyment as for the camaraderie around the table. I like running adventures the way I like running adventures. I've always been lucky to find players that liked my GM style. But I'd rather not GM, than GM in a way that is fun for others, but boring for myself. I am not a public servant.
So to all the GMs out there, whatever your style; don't be apologetic. Don't let anyone tell you you are doing it wrong. Hopefully, you will find players that dig your style. Maybe you don't even know what your style is, and will experiment with a variety of approaches... from "railroad" to "sandbox" to "rules as written" to flying by the seat of your pants. And hopefully, you will find players who appreciate your particular brand of zaniness. Because no matter what, we have a zany hobby. And no amount of rationalization can deny THAT!