The amount of money you spend on gear doesn't make you noobish or elitist. You can be an asshat with 10 years in this sport too.
I think like any community there are those who take the time to make intelligent contributions based on experiences that are reflected on and lessons taken away from. I've also known guys in the sport for several years who wouldn't know a life lesson if it bonked them on the head.
I think those who get accused of elitism have a strong opinion, and, at some point, see something that sets them off and they post something passionate about it and when they see someone with less experience being dismissive of that experience, the "I've spent $10,000 on gear" or "I've got $10,000 worth of guns", or "I've been playing airsoft before baby Jesus shat a diaper" comes up and the elitist card gets pulled. I've seen vets here come off like idiots and I've seen noobs post the most inane and dense comments.
Bottom line is you are who you are. I've been comfortable from day one as to who I am here and what I am about. If someone wants to label me, so be it, it doesn't change the facts as I see them. Similiarly I am respectful of other people's passions and experiences and am relatively slow to flame. I think if more people took that approach, you'd get less of the friction you see around here.
Although, believe me, since the noob tank and the additional moderators and the banning of some key idiots, things are a LOT nicer around here. The only downside is the vets that I know lurk here but no longer post. Thats a real loss.