Everyone has been weighing in this week on what to do about apps asking users to rate their app.
As detailed on this week's episode of The Talk Show, offending apps display an alertView prompting the user for review. Gruber's main irritation was apps not respecting - or even offering - a 'Never Ask Again' button.
I agree, the way most apps handle asking for reviews is awful. I think in the current App Store ecosystem, it's acceptable to ask your users for a review. But the prompt should have two buttons, Go to the App Store, and Never Again.
If a users selects Never Again, we should do just that. Never, ever, prompt them again.
So prompts are OK, but for god sake, don't make them so annoying. Developers, present them at times when it's most likely convenient for a customer.
Gruber suggesting that folks start rating apps with one star when they ask for review is silly. He didn't tell his readers to do it, he just wondered if it would have an affect if more people started to. But this doesn't solve the problem.
As for Apple banning apps that ask for review? Good luck. It's far too many to manage and monitor and Apple doesn't have real incentive to do so.
I agree that Apple, practically speaking, couldn’t ban this practice. But I’m not so sure that a groundswell campaign to rate these apps poorly wouldn’t work. The App Store is indeed a big place, but there aren’t thatmany reviews for most apps, even popular ones.
The problem though lies deeper than Apps asking for review. The real problem is the review system itself. It's an antiquated way of displaying current customer popularity and satisfaction. It's a system designed for an App Store circa 2008, not 2013.
In a world where most people have over 100 apps on their iPhone, who has time to rate even 10% of them? Who has the care to?
Most reviews I read are from angry customers who want to report a bug. There should be a better way for customers to send bug reports to developers. And customers should be discouraged from using the app review system to shame developers or give one star reviews because an app is missing a feature they want. That isn't what the review system was designed for.
The rating/review system has been misused to the point of redundancy.
The number of reviews/rating has become more important than the content in the reviews. At least that gives a potential customer some hint on an apps popularity.
And if a developer pushes a minor update, why are all reviews pushed to the side? Reviews for all point releases should be treated equal. A review for 2.5.1 is just as relevant as a review for 2.5.2.
So how do we fix this bag of hurt?
Scrap it and start again. We need a new system where less attention is place on individual customers, and more on customers as a whole.
Replace Ratings with Popularity. This is a dynamic value based on time spent in apps compared to similar apps, user engagement, how long an app stays installed on a device compared to other similar apps, etc.. Also include Twitter mentions. Pull data from every available place and translate that into a meaningful score that users understand.
Reviews should become more than a score. Don't simply ask users to choose a number between 1 and 5. Ask them a series of general questions about the app. Likelihood of recommending the app to a friend, did the app live up to its promise, that sort of thing. But also try and weed out reviews.
Ask if the user is reviewing an app because of a bug, if they are, direct them to the developer. If the user is reviewing because they want to hold a one-star review over a developer's head because of a future request, forward them too.
What we've been talking about this week is really about finding the best bandaid for the Review/Rating problem. We need a radical rethink of how the App Store tells customers what apps are good and which are garbage.