Re: Gold Star Critiquers
The criteria is whether another member rates a critique as 'useful'. That a member who receives a positive critique, ie 'Excellent shot!' should want to return the favor by marking it as 'useful' is fairly natural. This is why it's important for other members to mark critiques either useful or not useful for critiques not involving their own photos. This will more than cancel out the effect of the situation you describe. Also, the critiquer cannot see that you rated them as useful/not useful so it's better to be honest about it anyway.