Isn't it possible that thin and low-quality pages can rank near the top simply because there isn't anything better?
There are good pages and some of them were found earlier on the front page.But their names wouldn't sound as familiar as Yahoo answers or any other popular site. POPULAR seem to be the key and they have found a method to push them up from third or fourth page to the front.
When people see such names on the front page, they may find it difficult to make a spam claim as these are reputed sites.Not many including me would agree that lifehacker or engadget or gizmodo or any such popular site is a spam.They have some excellent stuff.
But the fact is they also have a large db of thin pages too.It is these one or two liner pages that have moved to the top because of the site's overall reputation.I could correlate this to Matt's usage of "reward" in explaining panda.
You could win in this panda with thin or weak pages, if you could manage to get into the same boat that these sites find a place.But it is not easy.