I was particularly struck by two comments in all the brou-ha-ha; "You don't need a campaign setting to play D&D", and "Rpg settings solve a problem I don't have", both not-so-coincidentally by Jeffro Johnson, whose original post about Dark Albion seems to have been the genesis of the current discussion.
There's little to disagree with in the first comment, on its face. Of course it's not necessary to have a campaign setting to play the game. Conventions are stuffed with one-shot games, the earliest published modules were pretty much stand-alone (with perfunctory mentions of outside events and places that had little to no impact on the actual adventure), and it can be argued that the first few Castle Greyhawk games that were played, that formed the genesis of the game as we know it, were set in a vacuum; the City of Greyhawk and broader World came later.
the implied setting that is baked into the rules. Doesn't matter if the DM hasn't detailed the leaders of the thieves' guild, the gods of the clerics, or the stats of the Grand Druid. They're out there somewhere.
And on a practical level, while it is certainly possible to play the game without a coherent campaign setting, outside of conventions and one-shots, nobody plays it that way. Whether they use a published setting, such as the World of Greyhawk or the Forgotten Realms (or Dark Albion), or the DM has gone to the trouble of creating a new and unique campaign world, that's the way the vast majority of players approach the game.
So, while it's technically true, "you don't need a campaign setting to play D&D" is neither relevant nor helpful to the discussion. Indeed, in the context of the larger discussion, it seems a rather petulant attempt to knock Dark Albion, once it was pointed out that it is not a complete rule set so much as a setting with specific rule variations.
The second quote is actually the more interesting of the two, implying, as it does, that when a DM creates a setting, no other input is required (or welcome). Speaking as a DM who has used both published and homebrewed settings for going on forty years, I find that sentiment simply untenable (not to mention hubristic in the extreme).
Especially in an environment such as D&D, and RPGs in general, where magpies are not only tolerated, but encouraged, taking bits and pieces from here and there is what we do as DMs. Do you honestly think there would be a Castle Greyhawk or Blackmoor without a Moria, or a Quarmall, or a Xuchotil? Pfft.
How many times have I found inspiration in someone else's setting, and taken something (whole or in part) and used it in my own? More often by far, I don't take things whole-cloth, but seeing what someone else has done in their own world sparks new ideas in my own mind, sending me down paths that I would never have gone otherwise. Just like a good fantasy novel.
But again, that quote does seem more than a little bit petulant in context. Just knocking the idea of settings in general, when caught on a simple factual point that Dark Albion isn't a rule set, but a setting with some rules. But hey, it did inspire my own imagination to start thinking about inspirations for posts, so it can't be a completely bad thing.