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    When something takes a long time to close (say more than 2 weeks?),
    would you like to see mail saying that we're still working on it, and
    that we either have made no progress, or what progress we have made?

It wouldn't hurt.  Yes, I would like it.

    I've had an incident open for about 6 weeks that the developers were
    completely stymied on for a long time.  If you were the customer I was
    dealing with, would you want to see a response saying "We're still
    stuck, don't know when I'll have something for you, but we're still
    working on it"?  I suspect that might be irritating to a large number of

I think this kind of communication can be very helpful and rarely works
against you.  If someone is going to be upset because the problem hasn't
been resolved yet, then they were probably going to be upset no matter
what you did.  A courtesy call is much more likely to help than to hurt,
since it helps dispell feelings such as "Symbolics doesn't care" or "my
problem report fell into a black hole."

I even appreciate the (automatically generated, I think) electronic mail
acknowledgements of bug reports.  Email doesn't carry quite the immediacy
of a phone call, but at least I know that my report was received.