1. Nowadays, it's either you go desperate like I said, or you get 0 players (assuming you made a new server). Only exception is when you're popular or well known admin in the past. If you're new, well, good luck on actually getting 10 players to your server and growing it to 100 without trying to be desperate.
2. Are you saying people actually BOTHER to give review for server being filled with bots/AFKs/autovendors? Because all I've seen lately are fake good reviews with rewards being given for it. That's how recent new servers grow lately. Amirite?
i started a server, and im happy with it. in the past i hosted a project for ragnarok online 2 with two friends, we created a translation pack for kro in english and german. around 1 1/2 year we had not more then 200-400 followers who downloaded our pack. but we didnt stoped it, even with -400$ on our bank account because of the fees, we worked hard on the pack and we where persistent because we did it with passion. the result was that after 2 years the bubble was exploding. our membercount increased by 500people each week up to 40k registered users and 29,000 downloads each translation version. now we have around 30 people and they like what we are doing, thats why we are working hard to create new features, bugfix the server and listen to there suggestions for maybe finding the small little diamond who makes the server better.
If you know what you are doing and know how to setup a persistent project, the quality of you work will do the job for you. then you dont have to trick with user counts, tons of fake reviews or anything.
People will talk about you, about your work, about your server and will spread the information.