As far as the watcher thing goes.. I have 7100 and only get 200 views per deviation.. sometimes more. This is because at one time I was very popular on this site (2003-2009). I would post a shot and regularly get 300-500 favs. After my deviations started breaking the 100 fav mark in the first few hours, I stopped trying to thank everyone and focused on replying to comments .. and then life struck.. I became a single dad with no time for the camera. I abandoned my account for 7 years. 95% of my watchers left the site while I was gone.
I've started from scratch and, since my return in March, I've acquired a modest 500 new watchers. I've gone back to thanking folks because it's been manageable. I have to say it's a much more rewarding experience being unknown again... making new friends and taking more time to view others galleries. Popularity on this site tends to isolate an artist from the community because there is too much going on the message department and it becomes overwhelming.
The ONLY reason to cherish the favs around here, is to acquire enough in the first 12 hours to have your work appear on the front page in the 'What's Hot' section .. this draws more watchers and eventually the buyers if your work is good enough.. believe it or not there are people out there who buy prints
So you see, dA popularity is a double edged sword. The money from print sales is nice.. but so is an intimate social experience, which tends to decrease with popularity.. my dilemma is that I cherish both.
On the topic of dA being a joke, tell your friends at Henry's they're full of shit
At the height of my dA popularity, I was making 2-300 CAD per month selling my prints.. without lifting a finger. I was also picked up by a German publishing company to use my photos on book covers and book promotion material. I made 4000 CAD on that one deal! So dA was my monthly car payment and paid for a trip to Asia. Hardly a 'joke' for someone who actually has a career and income and wants to make money on the side from their hobby .. The site is still loaded with semi-pro artists who cherish the atmosphere and make money selling prints... just not as many.
In 2008, I literally told the tech-geek photographers at a camera shop to go fuck themselves after they scoffed my HDR techniques. My prints were selling at a two local galleries here in Thunder Bay and these guys hadn't even tried. And yet they were trash talking me. They all could talk a great game and had certainly mastered their expensive kits... but guess what? Their photos were technically good... but lacked any sense of artistic inspiration. A great photo does NOT require an expensive kit, and guys that hang around camera shops are like the bikers who hang out at Timmys .. they'd rather stand around and talk about their equipment than actually ride.