Your sentence structure is a bit hard to read. If you mean why does fan art get popular, well because its an already existing material that everyone knows about and likes already, while you making original that no one knows about and really cares for makes a big different.
But either way, you still have to create something that people like.
Think about the sort of groups you watch. What sort of groups are people most likely to watch, instead of joining just to post art? Part of getting attention is finding a niche and appealing to said niche.
It doesn't. (Like people said, it can help because people can search for it, but it's not a requirement.) Don't sit around waiting to get "discovered". The prince ain't coming. Work out what you mean by 'discovered' (what your goal is, why you are on this site) and work to achieve it yourself.
I think it helps. People are here for lots of reasons; making friends, improving art, selling art, getting internet-famous, finding collaborators. If you don't know where you're going, you can't get there.
Haha, I would like to have seen this on the complaints forum but you might get flacked instead of actual helpful and or meaningful answers.
I too ask the same thing I do believe it has to do with the majority of the deviants here being involved in some fandom some way or the other, haha. Myself included I think that's how I first knew about dA in the first place. Someone showed me the Cloud video ("Cloud Song") and I started to visit the site on my own, primarily to search for fan art and then I checked out original art.
Depends on what you mean by discovered. Fanart gets you eyeballs but not as good eyeballs as your own stuff put infront of the right audience. Like, a person that draws awesome fluffy kittens has a really good angle of approach to build an audience. I'm sure you have one as well.
You're right. I wish I had one. Some folks like my art. I try to submit to groups and all, but that doesn't seem to help me much. I also noticed people like anime art- I use to draw it, but I'm happy with my 'cartoonime' style. idk what to do to put myself out there on dA anymore.
I wouldn't worry about popularity. Work on your art and interact with people that like the same things as you do and you'll have a good time. These things are always strange and tough. It helps thinking about it a step further than style though. Subject matters, genres, archetypes there are a lot of things that you share appreciation for with others.