'Dash' App Removed From App Store for Alleged Review Manipulation

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 6, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Popular API documentation browser Dash was yesterday pulled from the App Store after a routine migration request. Dash developer Bogdan Popescu was given no explanation for why the app had been pulled aside from "fraudulent conduct," but after a conversation with Apple, he's been accused of manipulating App Store reviews.

    Popescu received a "Notice of Termination" email yesterday and his iTunes Connect account was shut down. Apple initially declined to offer more information, but after Dash's App Store removal started making headlines, Apple told Popescu it was due to App Store review manipulation, such as paying for positive reviews, something he denies doing.

    Despite Popescu's denial, Apple appears to be adamant that some sort of fraud took place. Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller has stepped in and commented on the situation, through an email sent to Matthew Els, who asked him about the situation.
    At this time, Popescu says that Apple's decision is final and the app will not be returned to the App Store. The developer community seems to be surprised by the accusation, with many calling Dash a quality app that wouldn't have needed to boost its reviews.

    It's not clear what's going on, and the App Store reviews for Dash are no longer visible as the app has been pulled. As developer Steven Troughton-Smith points out, if Popescu didn't manipulate his own reviews, it's possible he's been targeted maliciously by a third party or that Apple's flagging system made a mistake. With Apple's Phil Schiller having looked into the situation, the latter option seems unlikely.

    Dash for Mac remains available outside of the Mac App Store, and Popescu is encouraging Dash for Mac users to migrate from the Mac App Store version. It is unclear if the iOS version will be reinstated.

    Article Link: 'Dash' App Removed From App Store for Alleged Review Manipulation
  2. Rafterman macrumors 68020

    Apr 23, 2010
    "Apple’s decision is final and can’t be appealed."

    That is the particularly BS part of all this. Third Reich much?

    But Apple cancels orders for no reason, so why not developer accounts.
  3. farewelwilliams macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2014
    Make Mac App Store Great A̶g̶a̶i̶n̶
  4. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    It seems to have disappeared from my purchase history completely.
  5. bitslap47 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 9, 2007
    Hmm... so if I hire a 3rd party to post fake reviews to a competitor's app.......
  6. Cougarcat macrumors 604

    Sep 19, 2003
    Apple's kafkaesque communication to developers remains one of its biggest problems.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 6, 2016 ---
    Especially when we're talking about developer livelihoods.
  7. LewisChapman macrumors 6502a


    Jan 10, 2015
  8. Zaft macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Really apple? You cant appeal lol. thats just wrong.
  9. Nunyabinez macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    I wonder if this publicity will turn out to be better than being on the Apple store.

    Maybe he manipulated the reviews to get kicked off and then get publicity for being kicked off and make even more money! (I'm totally kidding)
  10. nagromme macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    Speculation: maybe they used a bulk review/rating service, or a marketing service that includes that, and then when Apple was able to detect that kind of bulk, all of that service's clients got canned? (Probably not just this one.)

    Review spam and fake ratings are certainly a huge problem for App Store users, and I am not 100% certain that second chances are the way to go: then it's "may as well try the spam, no harm done if we're caught!" It's not as if there haven't been warnings against this for years.

    Now, IF it's a straight-up error and this company never used ANY such methods, I hope the error is corrected (as Apple generally does with their review/removal errors, though the remedy gets less blog attention than the initial Godwin's Law hysteria). Seems like a worthwhile app that need not game the system, and Apple can have a stated "no second chance" policy, but they can ALSO bend their decisions when called for. It happens.

    And if some fraudulent marketing company tricked this developer into not knowing what they were signing up to receive, I hope the dev can make a legal case against them.

    Similarly, if an attacker is behind this, taking actions PRETENDING to be this dev, I hope that comes to light (and it probably will, because this won't be the only victim). I find that sadly plausible.

    We may never know the facts. Won't stop us jumping to conclusions :)
  11. MRrainer macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland

    That may quickly backfire.
    Imagine trying to hire a killer for your wife on craigslist (or on the dark-net, if you're not a total moron).
    I believe the FBI has rooms full of people that answer to these requests...
    And even if you manage to find a contractor that isn't a fed, what are the chances that he just doesn't rat you out - first to your competitor and then to the feds. After you've paid, of course?
  12. selfsilent macrumors regular

    Apr 9, 2014
    Hmm, maybe a proactive step as Apple is releasing something similar and want rid of the competition.
  13. thespacekid macrumors regular

    Jun 26, 2011
    I wonder how they know he manipulated the reviews and not someone else. Seems like a prime way to kill competitors apps.
  14. BrianKonarsMac macrumors 65816

    Apr 28, 2004
    This was the first thought that popped into my head as well. Fake reviews are quite cheap, and if you can essentially destroy your competition for pennies on the dollar through this... what stops you aside from personal ethics? Apparently there is no appeal process per Apple, so once you get hit you're done.
  15. redscull macrumors 6502a


    Jul 1, 2010
    Unless of course you pay Apple. Because that's basically what paid ad spots are in App Store search results.
  16. philosopherdog macrumors 6502a


    Dec 29, 2008
    I'm sure if he's innocent Apple will reverse the decision. I certainly hope they work it out because this is an important app many developers rely on. Not such a problem on the mac as iOS.
  17. bitslap47 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 9, 2007
    Fair enough.

    So what if I own some domains, I create 100's of email addresses, create associated iTunes accounts, then review a competitor's app from each.

    I see your point, but I'm just playing Devil's advocate here. Apple's "detection" methods may be flawed. I mean... do they have proof beyond the circumstantial?

    The reviews may be fake, but how do they know the developer initiated it? Maybe a friend thought he was being nice?
  18. nt5672, Oct 6, 2016
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016

    nt5672 macrumors 68000

    Jun 30, 2007
    Yep, no proof, no followup, no communications, no freedom, no fair chance, and not innocent, till proven guilty.

    Why not just remove the fraudulent reviews and stop future fraudulent reviews. Will the answer is that Apple is too big to give a ****. But at some point, as the saying goes, since power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely it will continue to get out of hand until people quit buying from Apple. And that is one major reason for all of the negative comments on Apple here in MacRumors. You don't hear about it, but most developers have been subjected to this attitude one time or another, without one bit of malicious intent.
  19. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    This sort of stuff is precisely the worst part of a single gatekeeper to an App ecosystem / Place to earn your living.

    The Mac still has the huge edge here vs iOS (for now....yikes)

    If the Mac ever goes completely locked down like iOS, I'm pretty sure I'll have to leave. I just don't need or care for this level of dictatorship over an entire software platform. Just my personal preference.
  20. Soni Sanjay macrumors 6502

    Soni Sanjay

    Dec 25, 2013
  21. Stella macrumors G3


    Apr 21, 2003
    Shame, Dash iOS app is a great companion to the Mac OS Dash application.

    BS there is no appeal.
  22. turbineseaplane macrumors 68040


    Mar 19, 2008
    Seriously.. What sort of dystopian BS is Apple striving for here.
  23. SMIDG3T Suspended


    Apr 29, 2012
    It is but can you imagine all the extra work that would need to be carried out? I guess there's no second chance. If you break the rules, you're out.
  24. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    Hmm...for an app that's so generally well regarded in the developer community, I really don't think this would have been a whimsical decision by Apple.

    Especially if Phil looked into this personally, he'd have known the media fallout and confusion from this. Plus I don't just think it's a case of a competitor hiring fake reviews on his app — Apple would definitely have considered and looked into that.

    Now, the email from Phil said: "including actions designed to hurt other developers". What if we're looking at this the wrong way? What if he was hiring bots to spam bad reviews on competitors' products?

    There's something they're not telling us. The more I think about it, the more of a mystery it's becoming.
  25. nt5672 macrumors 68000

    Jun 30, 2007
    I know for a fact being right does not have anything to do with it. Publicity is the only thing that works. In my case the issue was permission to use intellectual property that was ruled not protected by a judge with no appeals in over 8 years. But to Apple nope, it was protected, can't use. I could not even find out who made the decision. I appealed, an hour later appeal denied.
  26. pmjoe macrumors 6502

    Mar 27, 2009
    Presumably "review manipulation" for your own product would be in the form of positive reviews, so hiring a 3rd party to post fake POSITIVE reviews to competitor's app, hoping Apple would notice, would be a bit bizarre.

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