I don't think it's really about popularity. It's more about trust.
Like reputation - that might be a better wording
On EFNet's #mIRC there are many regulars who help out, who are happy to abide by the rules. Sure, some push those rules, and are pushed back if they overstep their boundaries. They've been around long enough to show that they are responsible and responsive to comment.
Trust is gained in this manner.
You on the other hand stepped in, pushed the rules, ignored comments, and thus any possible credibility or trust was destroyed. When asked to stop this behaviour, you ignored the requestor and continued. You didn't try to get along with the community; you only tried to push your own agenda.
So in order to limit the interruption you were causing, you were kicked and banned. When these bans were removed, you came back in and continued your previous behaviour unchanged. Thus you were put onto a permanent ban list.
(Response to the underlined bold): Nope, my permanent bans were not removed. I flew in an airplane from Chicago to San Diego. I recall looking at the ban list to see my previous host still in existence.
All this talk about how 1 must achieve "trust" to get additional priviledges is what I am somewhat against - as I believe in giving everyone equal opportunity regardless of how well I know them.