Newbies and unknowns: Don't ever think you're not popular. And diarists, don't assume you are.
You may very well be extremely popular with the internet community.
This place gets, so I've heard, a million hits a day. They have to go somewhere. So you could have a diary that's sinking fast -- no recs and no comments -- but getting two hundred thousand hits on the way down. And many of those folks may be waiting for your next one.
Keep in mind that those names here that get on the recommended list have their own fan groups who recommend them as soon as they see their name, without reading it. Or they read it and it's an inane piece or even just a quote and a line or two on a mediocre story. Or a long, rambling screed(s). And they still recommend it because they think the person is a nice guy, other people seem to like him/her and there must be some reason for that, or they once wrote an excellent piece or two.
Or they really hit a home run every single time they're at bat.
That said there are those few fantastic writers with urgent subjects who really deserve to be up there very often and more power to them.
There are those unusual diaries that should be up there every time -- such as the memorials and such.
The fans of those popular folks who rec for no reason other than they always rec them are doing this entire community a disservice, including those they recommend for essentially no reason other than they're a fan.
They do the diarist a disservice because to recommend everything and shooting them to the top every time tends to turn others off from even clicking in because they're pretty sure that one's nothing special. And they'd still think that even when the diarist actually puts up something great.
They do everyone and the blog itself a disservice because they crowd out truly extraordinary work by unknowns.
So one theory out of this is that ironically a given diary that sinks may be thousands of times more popular than one who has the 200 members of his/her fan club recommend them to the top every time.
Meanwhile I hope that someday Markos or some others way up there have the means and desire to overcome this elephant in the room in an otherwise wonderful blog. We get rid of this enormous flaw, we can achieve a greatness we've never even dreamed about.