(from a message I posted on Yelp)
I recently reviewed a place I went to dinner for the first time, and gave it four stars. Yelp calls this “Yay! I’m a fan.” The owner messaged to thank me, and ask me what he could do to get to five stars.
Listen here: I only award five stars to my all-time very favorite places. The ones I go back to again and again, that have a fond place in my heart. Now and then I might even give five stars to someplace where I have an exceptional experience the first time, but that’s very rare. Most places I go are frankly three stars, but if they do a good job and the food is good I inflate it to four because that seems the norm here.
This is not how many reviewers play the game, though. I see a few Taco Bell and McDonalds on here with five stars. The only way that any McDonalds in the world merits five stars is if they find my kidnapped child or donate me a kidney. Three stars for a Mickey D’s means they were exceptionally good – most of them are a solid two-star experience. Nearly any chain restaurant – Chili’s, Outback, Macaroni Grill – had better do a truly outstanding job to merit four stars.
On the other hand, I’d like to see zero stars as an option. A place so nasty I will never go back, and will reccomend that people avoid, deserves zero stars. Foreign matter in my food, zero stars. A bathroom where I’m afraid to touch the faucet or doorknob – zero stars.