Good thoughts. You also bring up a good point --- to wit, if I'm understanding correctly, we need to know something about the user's reason for asking a question before we can decide whether or not to answer in "smack-down" mode.
Not all users will give us enough to allow an understanding of their reason for asking.
What I'm wondering, to some extent at least, is if we have the right mix of "helpful at most junctures" vs. "smack-down" answers/answerers, and what our reputation is in the PHP help world at large. Secondarily, if we should nominate some smack-downers and the rest of us covenant to try and always be helpful.
Not that it's that important, I suppose. I have been wondering, as others have I'm sure, why the site seems to be low-trafficked nowdays.