The theory of give what the mass want is beautiful... not in real world.
Excellence is something that most professional webmasters strive for, because it is a mark of competence & maturity, and it tends to get accolades from one's peers, which we all appreciate.
The public at large does not necessarily follow the same script. Evidence? The most popular tv shows; the most popular movies; the checkout stand magazines at your local grocery store.
So there is too often a dichotomy between what we as webmasters strive to accomplish, and what works most successfuly for the online public. There are exceptions to that statement of course, but as a generality, I stand by it.
When we look at the current Panda SERPs, in many cases it becomes immediately obvious that we may need to dumb-down our sites if we want to compete ~ they are that bad. Pretty sad.
There was a time when Google seemed to be committed to the "high road" ~ I no longer believe that is the case, in fact, just the opposite appears to be true because the road they are on is where the treasure is buried, and their committment now is to dig it all up.
It's been quoted here many times before, but again the line from H L Menchen seems most relevant:
"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."
Menchen said that over half-a-century ago ~ proof yet again, as if we need more proof, that some things never change.