I like socks a lot, and I'm really fascinated by what Cookie A designs. I don't love all her designs, nor do I want to knit some of them. A few I want to make because the construction is cool, or because I want to see how the charting fits the pattern. A few pairs I want to make because I want to wear them. Some, frankly, just don't do much for me. I think Monkey went viral because it was a very clever sock - a simple pattern, neither too big nor too small, that looked good with solids, semisolids, and wildly colored yarn. That was the sock that made me think about how diagonal lines are good for breaking up repeats in handpainted yarn, so that you get less striping. Yeah, it's not an earthshattering concept, but I hadn't quite internalized it until I knit the pattern.
Some designs are classic and universally flattering. I'm going to be a bit of a jerk and suggest that the most popular sweaters (as listed on Ravelry) don't fit that descriptor. Which makes me think that the reason they become popular is due to KALs - I assume people are still doing those. I also think a KAL can be very useful, if people are sharing information about how they are modifying a pattern or finding errors or ambiguous directions. I haven't participated in many of them, as I have commitment problems with my knitting. But the few I have tried, I haven't seen that kind of criticism taking place.
I suspect a lot of my attitude about this comes from my day job, and I know people sometimes interpret the critical eye as being overly negative. The truth is that all crafting isn't equal, yet we dole out praise as though it was. We should celebrate the act of creating something with sticks and strings, and encourage people who are just learning to keep trying. I wouldn't mind though, if could find a little more discussion of things like "Next time I'd consider angling the decreases in the opposite direction" or "Short rows in the bust would fix the pulling problem as the waist" or "I really like it - the only thing I might change would be to start the shaping 1/2 inch higher, but that's nitpicking." If I saw that more, I think I'd take the 5 star ratings on patterns and yarns more seriously, and perhaps the really good viral knits would get the respect they deserve.