Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Apple should reset all App Store reviews

For anyone who buys iPhone applications, you’ve likely noticed the incredible amount of junk in the iTunes store app reviews. Only recently did Apple require that you actually purchase and download the app before being able to post a review. MacWorld pointed this issue out:

With its decision to change the commenting system at the App Store to require customers to buy iPhone software before they review it, Apple did the right thing. In fact, I’m amazed it took the company this long to put such a policy in place.

From the day of the App Store’s launch, some of us pointed to unfettered software reviews as an area for abuse. It was sadly simple for a developer to create a sock puppet account and pimp its own product, just as it was simple for a rival to do the same to denigrate the competition.

That’s not the only problem. The App Store is overrun with inane comments from customers who are incensed that no free evaluation versions of apps are available, who feel that the developer is asking too much, or that their product duplicates functionality found elsewhere, without ever having tried the application in question. And a one-star review sinks an app’s average rating.

I had largely stopped paying attention to the reviews because I was tired of seeing a one star rating with a description that said the one star was due to the price or the lack of a free demo or something equally pointless. Even with Apple changing the future review process, there is still a real problem with the junk that now has infested the reviews.

MacWorld suggests something fairly bold to fix this:

I’d like to suggest that Apple take the only reasonable approach left to it: Take a mulligan. A do-over. Zap all comments from the App Store and start over at square one.

This might seem like a huge step, but it’s really not. Apple could easily query their purchase database to find those reviewers who have posted a review, yet not bought the corresponding application and then delete only those reviews.

Why not do this?

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