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How To Leave App Reviews Like A Decent Person

There is common behavior in the app (and technology) review world that, upon inspection, really does not seem to be logical. I’m sure you’ve probably seen user written reviews that read something like:

☆☆☆☆★

“This app is good, but it doesn’t have this one feature that this other app has. 1 star.”

This sort of comparison game is human nature, and while I don’t intend to change the nature of our behavior, I do hope I can make you think twice before posting a review like this in the future.

Taken literally, an app developer will presumably have happened upon an idea before development begins. The idea begins to take flesh, and as it is manifested into software, begins needing strict definitions. What is this app capable of? What is it not capable of? Where is the line drawn? And how does my ethos play a role in what the long term evolution of this app looks like?

Boring stuff. But all that to say, app development is usually quite intentional. A developer will be out to solve one specific problem, and that problem may not be the exact problem you’re having. And that’s ok. It would be crazy if those two always matched up.

The problem begins when you begin reviewing an app that is explicit in its intentions, based on what you think the app should have instead.

For example, this app intends to solve problems A, C, and D. And A, C, and D are hard problems, mind you. You, lovely consumer, are looking for an app that also does B. So you check out this app, knowing it doesn’t have B, and upon using it, are frustrated that it doesn’t have B. So you write a review saying,

☆☆☆☆★

“I love that this app solves A, C, and D. But it doesn’t solve B. Shame, shame, shame.”

Was it Einstein that said don’t judge a fish on it’s ability to fly? When you insist on judging something for an attribute it never claimed to have in the first place, no real progress is made. No productive activity occurs. Emotions are exchanged, where one side vents, and the other side is helpless against it.

What is the developer of this app to do now after reading this review? Feature B was explicitly not a problem this app was designed for, and probably for careful reason.

But, let’s have some empathy for the app reviewer. After all, they’ve taken time out of their busy day to download and try out your app. Let’s say at some point in the future, you dear reader are confronted with a similar predicament: an app you want to love is missing feature B, even though it never advertised it had feature B.

What should you do?

Well, if you want to do the right thing, and be kind and empathic, and make real progress towards solving this situation, the best thing you can do is email the developer. Have a conversation. Find out why feature B is not included, or perhaps learn that feature B is planned all along. ★★★★★.

Leaving a negative review because an underwater app couldn’t fly? That’s just mean.


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