Good read Jess.
It’s certainly interesting to think about the way we dish out ‘praise’, and how excellent, in some instances, simply means satisfactory.
I would say however that while you have a point in the most literal sense of the understanding of praise, you’re being slightly obtuse. If I ask how you are, you’ll likely say “good”, or “well”. That’s a par response but both words are in their most literal sense positive. Unless someone says “really well, actually” I don’t attribute that language to being positive —at least in that context. A lot of ‘praise’ as you put it, would perhaps better be understood as polite acknowledgement. An audience at a show will applaud unless the show is bad, as a sign of satisfaction — they’ll clap, and shout encore to express actual praise. In the cases of an EBay feedback form, AirBnB, Uber or whatever else, my understanding of each has always been that fulfilling what is expected and advertised is all you can/or should ask for. If you can find no fault, isn’t that perfect?
That doesn’t mean quality is undervalued either. Consider TripAdvisor, hundreds of different tiers of accommodation, but what you’re rating is how the vendors fulfil what’s advertised.