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Apple taking steps to remove illegitimate reviews from App Store

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
Developers who try to game the App Store ratings system, mostly by paying for fraudulent reviews, must now contend with Apple as the iPhone maker is said to have begun a campaign to strike those entries from the marketplace in an apparent effort to level the playing field.

App Store reviews available for sale on the Fiverr marketplace
App Store reviews available for sale on the Fiverr marketplace


Apple has been intervening on a case-by-case basis for some time, though it is unclear when they began the push as it is not a publicly-announced process. The moves were first reported by TechCrunch.

The most recent developer to feel Apple's wrath was Daneco Ltd., makers of "spammy" app Better Fonts Free. The app was stripped of more than 15,000 fake reviews over night, a change that only Apple could implement.

According to the publication, Apple "often" intervenes when such trickery is discovered. Many fake reviewers are careless, taking little effort to cover their tracks and flooding the App Store with hundreds or thousands of 5-star reviews in a short time.

The practice of buying reviews has become more commonplace recently as fly-by-night developers look for a quick payday by getting their app to the top of the App Store sales charts. Such a position can be worth tens of thousands of dollars in earnings each day.
post #2 of 43

Heck yeah. They need to do the same to their physical products’ reviews.

post #3 of 43
All in good time. These pro-developer moves are a positive step in keeping the ecosystem healthy. And curation is (or should be) Apple's strong suit.

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post #4 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Heck yeah. They need to do the same to their physical products’ reviews.

 

I stopped using ‘customer’ reviews of anything some years ago. It had become apparent that customer reviews are useless, rigged, and paid for. Samsung got caught red handed paying people to trash HTC. I vividly remember the day the iPhone was announced in 2007. C|net had a review section that was full of hundreds of negative comments from so-called users. Strange that the product wasn’t even available for sale yet. 

 

These days I completely ignore the review sections. Funny that before the purchase of Beats by Apple their products were given generally acceptable reviews by so-called users. Once Apple bought Beats the reviews turned into spiteful, vitriolic, hate filled diatribes. Now only stupid people buy Beats products, the same stupid people who buy Apple products.

post #5 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
 

These days I completely ignore the review sections. Funny that before the purchase of Beats by Apple their products were given generally acceptable reviews by so-called users. Once Apple bought Beats the reviews turned into spiteful, vitriolic, hate filled diatribes. Now only stupid people buy Beats products, the same stupid people who buy Apple products.

The thing that I noticed is a lot is the 5 star reviews just say something like "Awesome App" where as the negative reviews often go into great detail of why they were dissatisfied, what didn't work, etc. It is pretty easy to tell which ones are fake and which ones are not.

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post #6 of 43

About bloody time. I refuse to pay people to review my apps, but you are almost forced to if you want an app to do well as it currently stands.

post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

The thing that I noticed is a lot is the 5 star reviews just say something like "Awesome App" where as the negative reviews often go into great detail of why they were dissatisfied, what didn't work, etc. It is pretty easy to tell which ones are fake and which ones are not.

 

So are you saying that negative reviews tend to be authentic while positive reviews tend to be fake? So Beats and Apple products really are the crappy junk the negative reviewers claim them to be?

post #8 of 43

Removing the fake and fraudulent reviews is not good enough.

 

The developers need to be severely punished. Removing the reviews is not even a slap on the wrist.

 

Developers should be banned for life from the Apple eco system if they are caught having fake reviews after being warned about it, and that would teach them a good lesson, and it will also scare any other developers away from doing the same in the future.

post #9 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

Removing the fake and fraudulent reviews is not good enough.

 

The developers need to be severely punished. Removing the reviews is not even a slap on the wrist.

 

Developers should be banned for life from the Apple eco system if they are caught having fake reviews after being warned about it, and that would teach them a good lesson, and it will also scare any other developers away from doing the same in the future.

I agree. Because I feel like I get punished for being honest for not using the fake reviews! It pisses me off.

post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


Developers should be banned for life from the Apple eco system...

Um, no. Because what you suggest would enable people to 'take out' a competitors app by posting fake reviews on it!!
post #11 of 43

I thought I read some time ago that Apple had talked about using an iPhone and your location to prevent fake reviews of restaurants or hotels. Basically your device had to actually visit (and spend time) at a location before you'd be allowed to submit a review. If you were at a restaurant over the lunch hour, then you could review it.

 

This would have a huge impact on the number of fake reviews, at it's just not worth someones time to "hang out" somewhere in person just to post a negative review. For hotels, you'd have to be there for a longer period of time before your iPhone would allow a review.

 

Now imagine this with iBeacons. A restaurant could have an iBeacon with their own personal ID number which would only allow you to post a review if you were in the vicinity of the iBeacon that matched the establishment. Or the iBeacon could just be there to issue a reminder like "Thanks for dining here, would you like to give us a quick review or rating?" while your iPhone still relied on GPS to make sure you really were there and didn't "clone" someones iBeacon/ID.

post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Bailey View Post

Um, no. Because what you suggest would enable people to 'take out' a competitors app by posting fake reviews on it!!

 

Apple could conduct an investigation into each claim, and when the evidence is clear that the fake reviews came from the developers themselves, then the appropriate action could be taken.

post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

 

Apple could conduct an investigation into each claim, and when the evidence is clear that the fake reviews came from the developers themselves, then the appropriate action could be taken.

How many apps are there in the App Store? Sure, that shouldn't take long. </s>

post #14 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by NeilM View Post
 

How many apps are there in the App Store? Sure, that shouldn't take long. </s>

 

Smaller apps that don't sell anything are not a priority of course. I am talking about apps that actually sell a bit.

 

And Apple is huge, I expect Apple to have a safe, secure and honest appstore. They have the resources. This is not the wild, wild west like Google's app store, where basically anything goes.

post #15 of 43
Honesty is a rare virtue it seems.
post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
 
So are you saying that negative reviews tend to be authentic while positive reviews tend to be fake? So Beats and Apple products really are the crappy junk the negative reviewers claim them to be?

No i'm saying that positive reviews that just say "Awesome" are either fake or simply useless as well as negative reviews that just say "Sucks" are equally worthless. When someone takes the time to thoughtfully explain their experience good or bad, that makes them look authentic. In the case of Beats, that to me seems like an unusual situation where, as you mentioned, "supposed users" could be an issue. Normally people don't have a vendetta when reviewing apps on the App Store and you have to be a validated owner of the app to even comment.

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post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by SixnaHalfFeet View Post

Honesty is a rare virtue it seems.

I'm convinced that probably 50% of all people (if not more) on the internet are liars, cheats and generally all around bad people.

post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post
 

 

Apple could conduct an investigation into each claim, and when the evidence is clear that the fake reviews came from the developers themselves, then the appropriate action could be taken.

I might just be missing something, but it's not obvious to me how Apple could investigate them in any depth? They're not going to be able to subpoena the developer's email accounts or financial statements, and the fake reviews will look the same regardless of who paid for them...

post #19 of 43
About time - I am an app developer of a free app and was sure that some of the negative reviews were coming from competing (paid) app developers. To make your app shine on the app store you can pay to "down-star" your competitors just as easily as you can "up-star" your own app.
post #20 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLite View Post
 

I might just be missing something, but it's not obvious to me how Apple could investigate them in any depth? They're not going to be able to subpoena the developer's email accounts or financial statements, and the fake reviews will look the same regardless of who paid for them...

I obviously haven't thought about this in depth, since I have never thought about this before I read this thread, but surely there must be some way for Apple to figure it out. Are the fake reviews mostly positive or negative? Where are the fake reviews coming from? Apple should record each IP submitting a review and use an intelligent algorithm to determine if they should be flagged or not.

 

I am just one guy without the resources that Apple has. I expect Apple to do more than I am able to think of, considering what they can bring to the table.

post #21 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

No i'm saying that positive reviews that just say "Awesome" are either fake or simply useless as well as negative reviews that just say "Sucks" are equally worthless. When someone takes the time to thoughtfully explain their experience good or bad, that makes them look authentic. In the case of Beats, that to me seems like an unusual situation where, as you mentioned, "supposed users" could be an issue. Normally people don't have a vendetta when reviewing apps on the App Store and you have to be a validated owner of the app to even comment.

 

I see your point of course. I was just being my usual dick-headed self.

post #22 of 43

Devs with excessive fake reviews should have their apps removed and their developers agreement ended.

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post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by loopless View Post

About time - I am an app developer of a free app and was sure that some of the negative reviews were coming from competing (paid) app developers. To make your app shine on the app store you can pay to "down-star" your competitors just as easily as you can "up-star" your own app.

 

What's your app?

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post #24 of 43

One of my fears as a smaller developer earning my living from an app, is that Apple would do something that would mess up that income stream. Now I say that from the standpoint that we don't and won't solicit fake reviews, but we do ask our users to review us of course.  I'm glad to hear that Apple is doing something to help the honest app developers out.

 

Maybe what Apple should consider instead is a rating/review SDK that is enabled in an app by default.  Something that would popup at random.  That uncontrolled solicitation of reviews from actual users of the app, would make them more accurate, and probably give a more accurate depiction of how good an app really is.  I know this isn't really good for games and such, so it's a difficult issue, but I'm sure there could be a way to make things a little more accurate.

post #25 of 43
I don't even bother with the positive reviews, they're pretty much useless. I read all of the critical reviews and compare those with the date of the review and the app updates information.

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post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Heck yeah. They need to do the same to their physical products’ reviews.

 

I stopped using ‘customer’ reviews of anything some years ago. It had become apparent that customer reviews are useless, rigged, and paid for. Samsung got caught red handed paying people to trash HTC. I vividly remember the day the iPhone was announced in 2007. C|net had a review section that was full of hundreds of negative comments from so-called users. Strange that the product wasn’t even available for sale yet. 

 

These days I completely ignore the review sections. Funny that before the purchase of Beats by Apple their products were given generally acceptable reviews by so-called users. Once Apple bought Beats the reviews turned into spiteful, vitriolic, hate filled diatribes. Now only stupid people buy Beats products, the same stupid people who buy Apple products.

 

Me too. And not just for the App Store. For everything. You just can't trust them. It's not that there aren't plenty of legitimate reviews (mine included) - it's that there are too many which aren't (mine included). I prefer to judge an app or anything else on a professional review or my own instinct. I have rarely been let down by professional reviews, though they're fallible, whereas amateur reviews I have found to be much flakier - for example: Yelp, imdb, Amazon.

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post #27 of 43

The fabricated reviews, I guess, will just get more sophisticated.

post #28 of 43

they should tar and feather them as well, these develop would go to Google market place and pull this, the only problem is we all know no one who owns an android phone has enough money to buy apps, or they just looking for what ever is fee.

post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by 512ke View Post
 

The fabricated reviews, I guess, will just get more sophisticated.

 Exactly.  Instead of paying for good reviews, all you need do do is post negative reviews about your competitors.  Actually, you can just spam your competition with POSITIVE reviews and let apple kill your competitor, accusing them of posting the false-positive reviews!

post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post
 

 

Me too. And not just for the App Store. For everything. You just can't trust them. It's not that there aren't plenty of legitimate reviews (mine included) - it's that there are too many which aren't (mine included). I prefer to judge an app or anything else on a professional review or my own instinct. I have rarely been let down by professional reviews, though they're fallible, whereas amateur reviews I have found to be much flakier - for example: Yelp, imdb, Amazon.

There are websites where you can offer IT jobs and individual and companies bid for the job - an ebay for all sorts of IT services. One thing I came across was people looking for review writers as well as blog commenters. I wasn't that surprised - I mean who in the hell posts a 20 paragraph bullet pointed review on amazon for a lawnmower? Or any other item? I do read reviews but I am very discriminating. I also read somewhere about a study that revealed certain linguistic features common when people lie. One such was the frequent reference to oneself, such as "when I did this, I found that I couldn't..." etc. 

post #31 of 43
Interesting. Clearly there are both fake good reviews and fake bad reviews. I'm a beta tester for an app I really like and when I try to submit a thoughtful positive review it won't post, probably because I never have the same version as the current version. I guess that's fair. I just hope Apple is as aware of spam reviews instigated by competitors.
post #32 of 43

What is a crap is Apple's ranking system. Actually it is a "father" of such things as fake reviews.

post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Apple could conduct an investigation into each claim, and when the evidence is clear that the fake reviews came from the developers themselves, then the appropriate action could be taken.
I guess you've never tried to prove a negative.
post #34 of 43
This needs to be part of the honesty in advertising laws. While they're at it, those laws need some serious repairs, too.
post #35 of 43
If we had an opportunity to try the app for 10-15 minutes before purchasing the app, legitimate developers would likely sell more apps. Cost can be a deterrent if someone has been burned in the past. The "lite" versions are okay, but I'd prefer to try the paid version. More often than not, I'd probably go ahead and purchase the app if I liked it.
post #36 of 43

Ban them permanently! 

post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Heck yeah. They need to do the same to their physical products’ reviews.

I'll see your 'heck yeah', and raise you a 'heck yeah'!

But I'd hope to also see the other half of the equation,

where developers and manufacturers like Apple start taking

the larger ratio of negativity that will result to heart, and respond

more aggressively when negative feedback is accurate.

post #38 of 43
I'd be happy if their review system worked at all reasonably well. I have a small button in the corner of my app that takes a user to the review page for that app. I log how many people have pressed it. I have 300 people who voluntarily pressed the button and have 16 reviews. I don't expect 100% transfer rate, but only 5% of people who were trying to rate the app were actually successful. The problem is that there is no way in iOS 7 to redirect them straight to the review page, so they have to click, then, to rate it on the iPhone, they have to click, type in their password and then another window appears with the title and comment and star rating. On the iPad, it is much simpler and can be done in two clicks (not sure why there is this discrepancy). Unfortunately, the vast majority of my users are on the iPhone, which is probably why they don't get all the way through.

Thus, the problem is that it is harder than it should be to get users to rate an app, yet so much of the success of an app is based on those ratings. I don't condone the actions of buying ratings, but I do understand why many resort to it.

Now, before you start saying how much you hate those pop ups, I agree, I don't use them. I have an unobtrusive button that you have to voluntarily click on.
post #39 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post
 

The thing that I noticed is a lot is the 5 star reviews just say something like "Awesome App" where as the negative reviews often go into great detail of why they were dissatisfied, what didn't work, etc. It is pretty easy to tell which ones are fake and which ones are not.


Yes,  I also notice the fake very good reviews stand out.

Glad to hear Apple is trying to correct this lying, but I'm sure some of it will continue regardless.

Lately about 90% of the free Apps I install, are crappy and  I delete them after posting a bad review.

post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quevar View Post

I'd be happy if their review system worked at all reasonably well. I have a small button in the corner of my app that takes a user to the review page for that app. I log how many people have pressed it. I have 300 people who voluntarily pressed the button and have 16 reviews. I don't expect 100% transfer rate, but only 5% of people who were trying to rate the app were actually successful. The problem is that there is no way in iOS 7 to redirect them straight to the review page, so they have to click, then, to rate it on the iPhone, they have to click, type in their password and then another window appears with the title and comment and star rating. On the iPad, it is much simpler and can be done in two clicks (not sure why there is this discrepancy). Unfortunately, the vast majority of my users are on the iPhone, which is probably why they don't get all the way through.

Thus, the problem is that it is harder than it should be to get users to rate an app, yet so much of the success of an app is based on those ratings. I don't condone the actions of buying ratings, but I do understand why many resort to it.

Now, before you start saying how much you hate those pop ups, I agree, I don't use them. I have an unobtrusive button that you have to voluntarily click on.

Maybe Apple could roll a "rate this app" link into their iOS iAds.

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