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.”
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:
DON’T INSTALL THIS APP I INSTALLED THIS APP AND MY PHONE DONT WORK ANYMORE STAY AWAY!!!!!!
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:
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.
WHY DOES THE APP NEED TO ACCESS MY FILES? THIS APP STEALS DATA.
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.
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.
- 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?!