something that is admired by others isn't always all that great and just because an author is proud of a work doesn't necessarily mean it's any good. A DD should be based off of it's original content and its ability to draw the reader in and connect with the reader.
The artist being proud or the piece being admired doesn't make a piece good, because an artist is his or her own worst critic, and the most popular pieces are sometimes more generic and unoriginal because they appeal to the masses, while something that earns a DD should be unique in some way. I think a truly DD-worthy piece should have originality, effort, and meaning.
As a writer, I can't see how a writer or an artist could not be proud of something they've created. It takes time and effort to create anything, and not being proud of a piece you've created, and submitted for public viewing, is like not being proud of your own children. It's simply impossible. So if the author's being proud were the thing that mattered the most, every piece of art here should become a daily deviation.
I think it's important that the peice be admired by others, that it has the potential to reach the hearts of many readers. I don't mean that it needs to be admired or faved by many people at the time when it becomes a DD, because sometimes there are great stories out there that would get a lot more favs and a lot more admiration if only they had more exposure. That's why I say it needs to have the potential for being loved by many. I don't think the number of people who admire it is relevant, since that is impacted by exposure and not every good writer is also good at networking and at marketing their work, but I think it's important to have someone other than the author think that it's a good story, and I think that, upon deciding whether the piece should be featured or not, one needs to evaluate if it could be appreciated by many more people if only they found it and read it.
I agree in part with `KathrynODriscoll and in part with =SilverInkblot. Kate makes a good point that recognized literature isn't decided by the author so why should a work be featured solely because the author liked it? Instead of recognizing the piece it would be recognizing the author's tastes. For me, the first option is out.
I agree with Silver in that we haven't really defined 'others' - it looks like she has defined it as the whole dA population/random outsiders; if that is how it is defined then I would agree with her and say neither of those options seems the best criteria.
However, I would define 'others' as the people suggesting lit for DD or DLD, featuring lit on their own pages, and people who are actively reading lit on dA (leaving comments that say more than 'this is cool'). If we are defining 'others' as people who "know their stuff" then I think, if forced to choose between the two options, 'That the piece is admired by others' is the way to go. Should it be the only criteria? no, but one should consider whether other people would actually read the piece chosen and if not, look for another piece in that person's gallery that would reach a larger audience.
What I DO think that DDs should represent is excellence in literature: they should demonstrate mastery of the craft, technical excellence, and...that little something extra that makes you go "oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh" or sometimes "ohhhhhhhhhhh" and sometimes "ahhhhhhhhh"
It's that visceral reaction that says they've made a familiar feeling into something amazing. It's a kind of combination of the "originality" and "vision" factors on the official critique box.
The pieces I'm personally proud of aren't necessarily my best. As for pieces admired by others... well, just go browse the "recently popular" section and see how that goes. Neither point decides what is and is not worth featuring.
I said 'That the piece is admired by others' for a DD. Not because I don't believe that being proud of your own work is important, but I view DD's in literature to be similar to the system between 'literature' and 'popular fiction and non fiction'. It is the exemplars, the innovators, those that stand the test of time, those are often the markers of something that in the end becomes 'literature', and that is not decided by the author, but by the societies it's introduced to.