This is going to be a comprehensive answer getting at not only what you are asking but the implied question.
This site community (other SE subjective sites have similar divisions, this isn't unique to the Workplace) is divided fairly definitively into two differing perspectives on "what makes an answer good."
Answers should be held to strict standard
Similar to reasons discussed in the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective blog post, this perspective more or less entails desiring answers to basically:
- Answer question being asked (not provide interpretation or simply provide commentary)
- Include "why should I find this answer to be correct?" justification. Oftentimes this can be very basic, and something like, "I think you should do X because of some reasons."
- A shocking number of answers here do not even attempt to explain why they are correct
- This is very basic, sometimes will be referred to as "back it up principle." All this means is answering "why is this answer right?"
- Be downvoted when not meeting the above criteria and upvoted when they do
Answers which are useful should receive upvotes
This is constrasted with another perspective, which effectively answers the question as to whether an answer is acceptable for the site by much less stringent criteria.
Generally, this is a simple check - "is this answer useful?" Sometimes, "do I agree this is good perspective?"
An answer does not necessarily have to fully answer the specific question being asked but rather can be, as in the case of the recent answer being discussed, more a "helpful perspective" or be beneficial for the asker.
Is referring to people as lemmings and other generic insults actually acceptable behavior that people tolerate here?
No one here is intentionally being disrespectful. The fundamental issue is what I outline above.
Site regulars who frequent meta/chat and regularly are involved in shaping the community, tend to fall into the first category. Visitors tend to be the second.
The phrase "lemmings" generally is used to people who are unfamiliar with the general quality standards of this site as articulated on meta/FAQ pages (or people who only experience The Workplace via the "hot questions" listings). Those people become frustrated when answers violating the points I articulated in the first post are continually upvoted, in spite of on the whole failing some or all of the criteria.
Regarding "generic insults" - you are going to have to be more specific to actually get any meaningful insight into what you are hinting at here. I've been around this site for nearly two years and am not sure what "generic insults" you've seen. Almost all hostile behavior gets flagged and cleaned up nearly immediately.