Very much this ^
But also, I'd like to add this:
Now is NOT the time to mess with algorithms. As of right now I am still doing fine because I still gain new patrons at a rate that is similar to the loss rate, so at least I keep my earnings in sortof the same place. This probably would not be the case if Tapas started cycling algorithms. In that case, I would need to rely on webtoon more. You really don't want to push your main earners to that point!
Also another point I forgot to add earlier: besides people expecting a certain thing when they look through the popular section, it also serves an important purpose for the site. Popular series are free marketing for you. It's how you gain new users through word of mouth. When someone is recommended a comic/novel (or several) and they are completely new to the site, it can be hard for them to navigate. But if it's as simple as "just check the popular section, you can usually find most of them there" you move the learning curve from being right away with no instant reward, to instant reward with a gradual learning curve. Only after the average reader has passed that learning curve will they begin to look for more niche, lesser known content.
Popular is a marketing tool and your "first level", so to speak. If you skip the first level and throw your users straight into boss fight, most of them will just give up and use another site we live in a digital age, you need to make it easier to say "yes" than "no", or there will be a million other entertainment alternatives for them to turn to.