The manual/alternate pump is only a part of the main gear extension system. The nose gear alternate extension is completely reliant on pulling up on the release handle in the floor (adjacent the pump handle for the mains). It basically releases the uplock allowing the nose gear to free-fall. No hydraulic back up for the nose, only the mains. All things being equal, all 3 gear should free-fall. As the mains extend forward into the relative airflow, the pump is used to aid in locking them down, and only if required.
Confusion can be from the fact that there are two separate locations for Alt Gear Extension controls that are all integral to the entire alternate extension system. The pump handle in the floor (directly adjacent to the nose gear release handle) has nothing to do with the nose gear.
As you stated, there are some "gotchas" with the alternate system (both on the 100/300, and Q400). I know of 2 incidents (one in Europe and one in New Zealand) where DH8's landed with the nose gear retracted due to system unfamiliarity, or not pulling up hard enough on that release handle. Both cases, if handled correctly, would not have ended up with embarrassing pictures posted on Google. The QRH's have been re-worded over the years to convey the fact that there may be high forces required to overcome the uplocks. As I always sum it up in training, "pull until you achieve the desired result". Hence my cable on the CP's desk comment
Regardless, this was minor. We have seen worse brought on by landing gear issues (thinking Eastern L1011 in the Everglades).