Monkey see, monkey love

Disclaimer: The following content expresses my own opinion and does not aim to represent circumstantiated facts.
Google, IDEA, IntelliJ, Java, Kotlin, and other names, brands, products mentioned in this post are trademarks of their respective owners.

Everybody loves Kotlin, right?

It’s the best language on the JVM! It’s as fast as Java, less verbose, it provides better null handling (because heaven forbid that we stop using them), etc, etc… A true miracle of modern software engineering!

And it’s also young, cool and if you are not using it well… you are obviously a moron!

“Why?” you ask? Well, because everyone says so, of course!

And why does everybody say so?

To give my answer to this question, let’s go back a couple of years…

True Story!

I happen to work in a great environment, yet many of my coworkers – while being good fellows – are of the most conservative and rigid sort.

They have Java (and Typescript which I think I can safely call “browser java”…), Java is their shepherd and they shall not want.

When I tried to interest them in anything else, the reaction has always been: “back off, Riccardo, with all your Clojure and LISP nonsense!”.

But then they added:

“Kotlin seems interesting, though…”.

“Why?” I ask.

No conclusive answer.

They know nothing about it. They never read a book or an article about it, they never coded with it, there is not a single project they know about where Kotlin is the key factor. They just happen to “find it interesting”.

And let’s be clear, most of them never heard of Lua, Clojure, Elixir, Erlang, Haskell, or other languages before knowing me. Maybe (just maybe) they heard about Scala.

But still, they do recognize Kotlin as a potential Java replacement. They know it’s most likely a good thing.

This leads us back to the first question:

Why it seems that anybody considers Kotlin the best next thing after sex?

Conspiracy time!

Here is my little conspiracy theory: keep in mind that everything that follows is pure speculation, I’m not pinning anything on anybody.

Kotlin is an IntelliJ creation, the same company that makes the (excellent) Idea IDE: that they are pushing their language on every turn is no surprise.

But then, there is also Google.

Google is all over Kotlin, with its tech evangelists oozing loads of virtual ink on it, Bukkake-style.

Did you know that Kotlin is the best language for Android development?

I’m sure Google would have let you know by now.

Care to try a new young, cool, slim language? Kotlin is the language for you: even we, at Google, use it!

How many Google developers are actually using Kotlin by the way? 50%? 107? 2? We will never know…

It would look as if Google is drinking the Kool-Aid from IntelliJ, except that Google is smart and we – the developers – are the morons who are drinking it!

I don’t know if this is really how it shook out, but If I had to put my money somewhere, I would bet that Google received Android Studio from IntelliJ almost for free.


Because Google used us suckers as a currency to pay them.


By pushing for every technology Idea puts into Google’s mouth.

Kotlin could be the best language for Android development because it’s the language provided to Google by Idea and because – I would think – Idea has also provided all the manpower for the porting Kotlin on the platform, just as I’d say they provided the manpower to put a bow on IDEA and gift it to Google as Android Studio.

Google is pervasive and ubiquitous: should Idea want to shove Kotlin down our throat, would it be so strange for it to want to have Google on its side?

Remember when I said that “it seems that anybody considers Kotlin the best thing after sex?”. Well, I think that the “anybody” I was talking about is mostly Google.

The apple of our eyes

Take the most rigid, focused, and conservative Java developer on the planet, and, no matter how indifferent he may be about other languages, you can bet IDEA or Google has slapped Kotlin on his face at least once a day.

And, I think, this is all it takes to inspire trust in otherwise rational human beings.

“If IntelliJ created IDEA which is so damn good, then Kotlin must be good as well, right?!”

“If Google that’s so big and powerful uses Kotlin, it must be that Google is big and powerful because it uses Kotlin!”

It’s as I wrote in the title: “monkey see, monkey love”.

I think I can almost hear you.

“How do you dare to compare us to monkeys, Sir! We, the developers, are not common human beings! We talk with computers! We have degrees in Physics, Mathematics, Engineering!”

This is the hubris that gets us: we think we are so special, so rational, so smart, but in the end, as humans, we have just the same cognitive biases as everybody else.


“But Riccardo” you may say “even if that may be true, in this way Google doesn’t have to develop a half-assed IDE, Idea gets the advertising it deserves and we – the developers – get great tools to work with. Aren’t we all winning? What’s the problem?“.

The problem is that the same company that created our IDE may be aggressively pushing for its (mediocre) language to replace the one we came to it for in the first place, and could be doing it without being upfront about it.

Another problem is that it may be trying to establish a monopoly and incorporate us into an ecosystem where they control all the variables.

Isn’t it funny?! We got to them because they provide the best IDE for Java around, and they could end up using it to defeat the competition and making us leave Java in the first place!

Doesn’t that bother you?

Well, maybe you are right. I’m overreacting. Don’t worry about it.

Have a glass of Kool-Aid, instead: it’s on me!

Small dictionary of moronic app reviews

Let’s rant, for a change!

Years ago, I published a small VR video player on the Google Play Store, called VR Theater.

VR Theater is admittedly not a great app, but it has something going on for itself: it’s completely free.

Not “free with ads.”

Not “free, but I will sell your personal data.”

Not “free for a limited time or “free with in-app transactions.”

Just free.

That doesn’t mean I got nothing out of it: visibility and plenty of great reviews from outstanding users, but I don’t charge anything.

Not all reviews are great, though, and while I don’t mind criticism – I never panned people just because they downvoted my app – some app reviews manage to rub me in exactly the wrong way.

It’s not about the rating, but about the attitude some people feel entitled to put out, which are made worse by the “free stuff” context.

So – just to let some steam out and have a laugh- here is a small collection of moronic behaviors I find particularly irking on the store.

The carrot and stick review.

The basic idea that rattles in the reviewer’s skull is that you – the software developer – will do anything short of straight prostitution to get five stars on the store:


Nice app, but there is no “X.” Add “X” to get 5 stars.

Where “X” is a feature, not a bug (otherwise the user would be right, and I usually don’t mind at all!).

Let’s break this down: the user likes the app – he writes that in the review – but since in his delusions you are his bitch, he downvotes it anyway.

“X” can be just anything. From a trivial change to some sort of monumental update that will twist the app into something completely different.

Maybe he downloaded your video player but what he really wanted was to play chess.

The change could also require just a minor edit, or it could take weeks worth of work.

He doesn’t care that the app is free and that you have a daily job and a family: if you put out a month of your life, he will come back and give you 4 extra juicy stars.

But here is the cherry on the cake: even if you add the feature he wanted all along – as sometimes happens by chance – he never does

The “your app broke my cat” review.

These reviews are always written with alarmistic tones and look like the ravings of a lunatic:



I titled this kind of review “the app broke my cat” because this is just as consequential as the reviewer’s argument.

What is the user thinking, I wonder?

Does he think that I’m some kind of demigod that can ply his hardware to my evil will?

Or that my ineptitude is just as powerful and it can have almost reality-bending effects

Either way, I’m kind of flattered by this kind of review, really!

Let’s put aside that damaging a phone with a user-level app is an arduous accomplishment at best, “VR Theater” has more than a million users and a decent rating.

Don’t you think that if it was meant to destroy smartphones, someone else among that million – other than you – would have noticed?

The “I don’t speak English and it’s your problem” review

It’s always (and comprehensibly) written in another language:


Qo’noSDaq tlhInganpu’ [no Klingon translation]

So let me get this straight: I don’t expect anybody to know English (let alone Italian). 

The app has just those localizations because these are the only languages I know and I don’t want to put out money for more translations.

On the other hand, since the user didn’t bother to learn a single word of English, he expects that I should learn the tongue of Mordor (or whatever…), or it’s 1 star.

There is a semi-legitimate reason for these reviews.

I publish the app on all stores worldwide, and (I presume) the app description is automatically translated to the recipient’s language, which may give them the illusion that VR Theater could also be translated.

Still… it’s a video player, not a text adventure. Do you really need a translation for the word “Play”???

Also, I don’t expect a good review but how about “no review at all”?

The “useless” review

They come in various shades of irritating and I treat them accordingly

There is the banal:



which receives a neutral or even apologetic answer: it may be rude, but it’s a borderline case of fair criticism.

Then there is the “people are assholes” version:



which is still tolerable, if not else because I got to learn every possible declination of the word “shit” in every possible language.

And then there are those like this one, that I just received today:


Useless app ! Do nothing. Only make the things very small to see. Can damage eyes.

and checks all the boxes for:

  •  unfair
  • defamatory
  • deranged.

It’s the same old story:

A guy meets a VR app, the VR app requires a VR headset to work, the guy keeps staring into the VR app with his naked eyes, the guy blames the developer.

Note that the app is called VR Theater, and it has a Cardboard VR headset on the store banner and on its very icon.

And, again: thousands of people found the app useful, isn’t the faintest clue passing through your mind that maybe – just maybe – you are not the only genius to have it figure it all out, but you just have no clue?!

The paranoid review

Big Corporations, the Illuminati, reptilians. 

This user knows everyone is after him and that I – with my app – am up to my knees in the great conspiracy.



I’ll tell you “why”.

It’s because VR Theater is a video player. It plays your videos. Your videos are stored as files on your phone, and my app needs to access them, to play them.

But no, he is not buying it! He has it all figured out, and no one will steal his data, not on his watch!

 Finally, I found a worthy opponent! 

And this is what he does: he logs into his Google account – which is associated with his real name, phone number, and email (the same account that tracks all his web traffic and probably his position) – and he downvotes the poor fucker who writes software in his spare time because clearly “he is after his data”.

He will probably brag about it on Facebook too.

Closing Remarks

This post is about stupid reviews, not about stupid people.

If you want, it’s about “people who occasionally do stupid things and write stupid reviews”.

So, while I hope you had some fun reading, I always try to keep in mind that technology is widespread – which is a good thing – and all sorts of people own a smartphone nowadays.

There are…

  • kids
  • elderly people
  • people from unprivileged classes or communities
  • just some random dude who’s always nice but had a terrible day and lost his temper for just that one moment.

…and none of them deserves hate or contempt for a review. 

Heck, my mother could have written one of those (and God knows if she can be a bitch sometimes).

Then of course there are the jerks that may deserve contempt but, you know… being one that writes posts like this, who am I to cast the first stone?!