| >>Given that the deadline is artificial in the first place, why even bother having it? Or why not offer it after you split mech as well? Why the reluctance to give everyone the same fair shake?|
The purpose of the respec is to give you a chance to balance your stats toward new contests, etc. The TDP variance that happens if you decide to split your mech into multiple skills is small, and not a good enough reason to extend the time limit. The limit exists because without it, people would simply stock up respecs, leading to a lot of potential for abuse in terms of learning rates, etc.
In general, it's absolutely worth noting that too much freedom to respecialize can be a bad thing - There's some good discussions about why around Diablo III, and other games.
>>What happens, if I don't know which way I want to split my mech? Is there an option to keep these ranks kinda floating around? until I do decide to make a choice?
In general nobody will ever be forced to convert their mech lore. However, once all five skills are fully trainable, everything that trains mech will be turned off, and everything that uses mech in a skill contest will use one of those skills. So at that point, you'll want to convert simply because if you don't, you've got a useless skill sitting around doing nothing. We won't turn off Mech learning until all 5 skills are fully