Dumb reviews: still a problem!

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by jstanier, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. jstanier macrumors regular


    Sep 6, 2008
    Brighton, England.
    Since Apple has prevented users from reviewing applications they haven't bought, we hoped that the reviews would be more concise and reliable. In general, they are now. But unfortunately, today I was reminded that developers (and customers) still aren't safe from the wrath of dumb reviews.

    My most recent application, [app]Flickr Mixr[/app] [website], went on sale the other day, and the sales have been really great with a lot of downloads since it hit the store. I use the app a lot myself to browse through the best Flickr photos during downtime, or when I'm sitting around bored.

    Today I got a review on the US store. Great! I can see what people actually think about the application. So, I fire up iTunes, flick across to the US store and have the following review:

    Sigh. My application is therefore rated 1 star out of 5 for doing what it says it does. I never intended for there to be any search function; the application's main purpose is to use Flickr's "interestingness" to get the best from Flickr and display them cleanly and simply, just like browsing through a gallery.

    The irritating thing is, this really does have an effect on sales.

    Developers: do you think that you should be able to have more control over the reviews of your application? Have you had any similar problems?

    Everyone: do bad reviews actually sway your purchase that much? Or are you always willing to try something out based on how it looks? I'm aware that 100 bad reviews usually mean something's up. :) But do you take the 5 star rating that seriously?
  2. ayasin macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2008
    The review process is fine as it is now. You have to buy the app to review it and that removes 98%+ of the crap. Some people are just morons and there's nothing to be done for it, just trust that your potential buyers will see this review for what it is (useless).
  3. StingerT125 macrumors 6502a


    Jun 3, 2008
    Dutchess County New York
    If an App does something I am looking for I will usually look over the screen shots to see how it is implemented, and then read the developers description to further see if it is what I am looking for. I will browse the reviews, but I take them with a grain of salt.

    Also, if there are comments about an App hear on MR, I will generally give that some weight.
  4. amousa macrumors newbie

    Sep 7, 2008
    Sorry to hear it, what a pain. Unfortunately, this is about as good as it can get. If we developers had the ability to moderate reviews, no app would have constructive reviews (they really can be helpful).
  5. Daremo macrumors 68020


    Jul 3, 2007
    I agree with your disappointment, 100% and do think this is unfair, but unfortunately, a review is simply an opinion of the product, and when you open yourself up to the public with a product, people are free to express their opinion, whether we agree with it or not.

    I for one would never want my opinions to be policed or controlled just to make the developer happier.

    Maybe there needs to be a check box that says "Does this software do what it promises?" and if checked YES, then you can't give it less then 3 stars. Something like that would perhaps even things out a bit.
  6. lucasgladding macrumors 6502

    Feb 16, 2007
    Waterloo, Ontario

    One thing to note is that the review only shows in the country with that user account whereas your response shows worldwide. Take the review seriously. If someone penalizes you for a feature that was intentionally left out, you should consider two things:

    1. Should I add the feature? It may not make sense with your current focus, but user feedback is a very good reason to reconsider, if even briefly.

    2. Does my page on the app store need to be revised to make the functionality more clear? Users may not spend more than a few seconds reading the description, but that doesn't mean you can't catch their attention or set their expectations early in the description.

    You can't give reviewers too much power. There's only so much you can do to guide user opions. That said, never disregard reviews altogether. Every review has some value.

    BTW: I re-read your message on the application page. I have been thinking about how to say it gently, but rather decided to give my honest and open opinion. The message sounded unprofessional and suggests that you don't take criticism well. No offense is intended here, but you may want to reword that. As mentioned earlier, it appears worldwide (even on stores without the review) and is the first impression anyone gets of yourself and your application.

    Kind regards
  7. Delirium39 macrumors regular

    May 19, 2008
    I don't know that's there's anything we can really do about it. Opinions are opinions. I feel your pain though. I just got a one star review in the UK store because I added a hint feature to my puzzle game. The reviewer loved my game before, but now because they couldn't control themselves from looking at the hints, they consider the game ruined. Sigh. It's my fault they chose to access the hints???
  8. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    There are no stupid reviews, just stupid people.
  9. DreamPod macrumors 65816


    Mar 15, 2008
    Sounded like a passable review to me. The user didn't like the app, thought it needed a new feature (one which makes sense given that your app already lets people look at flickr), and wasn't good without that feature. Wasn't the most in-depth review, but I definitely don't think it should be deleted or anything. That may not be the point of your app, but it may be one people expect, so it's not a bad thing that someone mentioned it.

    Bad reviews were those stupid ones we got before: "$5 is too expensive I won't buy it, 1 star" or "Who cares about this game, the publisher sucks because they are evil"
  10. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    Im sorry for your bad review, unfortuneatly people can be incredibly stupid.

    Would knowing that you have my respect for being a developer make it up at all? I really admire the people that go out and mangage to make it doing things they are passionate about. I myself hope to become a coder upon graduating from college.

    Hopefully you make some returns on your app. Good luck!:)
  11. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    As someone whose most complicated app ever made was written on a TI-85 about 15 years ago, I applaud them all too. I wish there was some sort of "making an app for iPhone" for dummies. I know I'm smart enough, but I just had a hard time grasping programming because the people who taught it seemed to be good programmers but $%^#ty teachers. I can make a bloody Web site, so I figure some stupid, simple iPhone app can't be THAT hard. I mean surely I could make a flashlight app that just turns the screen white.
  12. Randman macrumors 65816


    Jul 28, 2008
    Jacksonville, Fla
    You have to take the bad reviews with the good. Just because you didn't like it and it impacts sales for you, it might be something someone else considering the app would want to know.
  13. SFC Archer macrumors 68000

    SFC Archer

    Nov 9, 2007
    Troy, MT
    I did not see the review as bad but constructive.

    1. No ONE can make an App that meets Everyone's need and thus will receive opinionated feedback with constructive criticism or if they are negative users it will show their lack of communication skills.

    2. If too much control over what is posted then all any of us will ever see is the good??? This makes no sense, why have feedback at all if all you want to see is good reviews.

    3. Reviews help DEVs make stronger/better Apps if there is a consistent request in the feedback. If that was not your intent then explain your intent more precisely in the description of the App. He may have purchased based on your wording and his interpretation of that wording and was let down when it did not do what he expected based on your description.

    4. Your ability to accept negative feedback needs to relax a little. One should always expect that at least 5% of feedback is going to be negative, anticipate and expect it. If you have a terrible App then it could be 95% negative. You made the sale, the individual gave you his money for your work and now as a user, he has the "right" to express his opinion of what he "paid" for. If your App is free and downloaded then they still have the right to express their opinion based on your choice to put it up for free.

    Turn into a Duck my friend, let the water bounce of your back, fix those things that make sense and go with your intent. Be flexible and remember that in a hi-tech world things are changing very very fast and what you thought was cool when you designed it may not have included everything that users wanted. You can't think of everything and your user base is only trying to help you strengthen what they think may become a better app which in turn makes you more money with more sales.

    Hope that helps...Good Luck
  14. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    That and I believe marking the review as helpful/unhelpful is also key. It is much like those douche bags who write in the free song of the week "if you really like rap click YES!" I mean seriously!

    You, as a developer cannot expect that all reviews are going to be favorable or even legitimate. We cannot account for stupidity or basic confusion among buyers. As ayasin said, hopefully potential buyers will see past this one review. I for one will gloss over a review that gives one star and says "does what it says it does but I want more!" I mean wtf, if you want more then ok ... wish list it away, but don't blame the developer.

    Just relax and you'll find your app will do fine if it's something buyers really want/need.
  15. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    As a consumer, I take the star ratings seriously, but I also factor in the effect of low-star reviews when the product doesn't have many overall reviews because it's new.
  16. MadGoat macrumors 65816


    Jul 30, 2007
    While I understand how you feel, I don't think one should be able to arbitrarily screen out reviews. I mean you would be able to screen out anything below 5 stars and game the system. However should an option to turn off all reviews, but that might have the same effect as a 1 star rating.
  17. OneMike macrumors 603


    Oct 19, 2005
    Bad reviews sway my purchase if the review is relevant to the app. In your case since you only have 1 review it's not bad as people can see exactly what the complaint is. The problem is when you get a lot of old negative reviews all people will see is how it affected the star rating and not if the review made any sense.

    Once you buy I think you should be able to leave feedback though. Bad or good. I don't agree with the 1 star, but it lets you know what customers would like to see. If you can only leave good feedback it's good for dev but worthless to buyer.
  18. Dimwhit macrumors 68000


    Apr 10, 2007
    I wonder how feasible it would be to add a develop response to reviews. So when there is a review, a link at the end goes to a response from the develop (if they choose to). That way, when someone reads an idiotic review like that, the developer can respond with a "That's not what it's supposed to do!!!" comment.

    Just a thought.
  19. gillybean macrumors 6502a

    Jul 21, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    The one-star rating may be a bit harsh, but I think that reviews are a legitimate place to put requests for new features.
  20. Jeremy1026 macrumors 68020


    Nov 3, 2007
    I don't. There are links to the developers website and support page right in the iTunes page. Unless you are adding a review, with a feature request to be an insignificant part of it, then I don't think it should be there. Reviews are for reviewing purposes, not for requests.
  21. BwanaZulia macrumors regular

    Jun 8, 2002
    So far... so good... Only good, well thought out reviews.

    (no, don't go throw in crappy reviews now.. :) )

  22. Arran macrumors 601


    Mar 7, 2008
    Atlanta, USA
    Maybe the app name needs to be more explicit? How about:

    "Flickr Mystery Tour"
    "Flickr Stumbler"
    "Flickr Surprise-Me"
    "Flickr Random Pics of The Day"
    (I'm sure you can think of better!)

    In short, something that clearly telegraphs that the MO is purely random.

    Just a thought.
  23. Greencardman macrumors 6502


    Apr 24, 2003
    Madison, WI
    Karma ratings for reviews would partially solve that problem, and I wish they'd implement it. Being able to vote a review up or down really helps promote the useful, thought-out ones and sends the silly ones down to the bottom.
  24. SwingOnThis macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2008
    The higher the price of the app, the more the reviews matter. In my opinion.

    If an app is cheap ($2.99 or less), i'll look at the reviews in a general sense. Usually i won't go past the most recent 20 reviews before i've made up my mind. So pretty soon that neg will drop out of your 20 most recent and it'll be irrelevant. Except for it's effect on your overall rating, of course.
  25. jstanier thread starter macrumors regular


    Sep 6, 2008
    Brighton, England.
    I agree after looking back at it. I've just removed it, it should update on the store soon.

    I forgot about the karma ratings. That would work pretty well actually -- users would probably trust that a lot more on the App Store rather than on the music store, where you can preview music regardless.

    I also agree that reviews are a good place to suggest new features -- as long as they actually review the product as is and keep it useful and constructive. Yet, as Jeremy rightly said, there's plenty of support available by email and website (assuming the developer has made one) that should make a purchasing decision easy.

    With regards to seeing the review as constructive (i.e. SFC Archer's comment), unfortunately I don't. The review seems to be a warning to people that I've deceived him into believing that something wouldn't be there, when the description doesn't mention it. The accompanying website also has many screenshots and further deviation (and my email) if he was uncertain about something. There's already many other apps that do what he wants! But then again, I agree with your other points and they make perfect sense.

    "Flickr Mystery Tour": excellent.

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