I don't often link to comments I make on other people's blogs, but Domino, EQ2's Tradeskill dev, has an interesting post on the relative value of accomplishments. She suggests that one of the reasons why groups of players get angry about stuff that is given to other groups (e.g. established raiders complaining about nerfs for entry level raiders) is the lack of a formal hierarchy for accomplishments. With explicitly stated standards for, say, slaying dragons versus interior decoratating, Domino believes that we could avoid "endless debate over whether the MMO's rewards are "fair"."
Personally, I think the debates are caused by the concept Tobold proposed; players engaged in a tug of war to convince developers to make a game we want because we can't afford to develop the AAA MMORPG of our own. Still, it's an interesting question, and my comments won't make sense out of context, so I'll just post the link and call it a day.