Well to explain the depressing state:
a. The site got a new interface that is not quite stable, as was the previous one to say. I often get tons of errors messages and forums don't always work.
b. Alot of good people i hear them leaving (already 5 skinners gone, maybe more to follow). But that's maybe cause i caught the site at a bad time.
c. There is still no PM system implemented to the site. A site this large should have already develop a code for this.
d. The rating system is still the same and i wouldn't like to analyze this further.
I'm not too sure about the not interacting though - I stay on the fringes around here (cuz of lack of knowledge and experience), but it seems like there are a lot of people who interact with each other very often, and not necessarily only on this site. I drop by other related sites - skinartistry, DA, etc. - and see the same names everywhere, interacting with each other. I think that is a big part of what I see, and makes me comfortable, here.
The community is still too introverted. There is a core of 500, maybe 1000 people who comment and chat and all the others are just downloaders. (Bear in mind that the site has 4 million unique visitors per day). Your above comment reinforces that.
You are right though that this in a stricter sense is a more compact or specialized skinning community, cause DA goes way beyond that. Is not just art or skinning, it's all that a member may be concerned with. Also in DA there are 33 million devs now.
Now you may understand the above statements. I'm not old enough to pass judgement, but i have the right to see what was going on and what is currently happening.