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Old January 6th, 2011, 05:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Malicious reviews from competing titles?

Ahoy,

I was wondering if anyone had any advice on this. Over the past couple of months, our title has been rated by some one star reviews. Obviously some of these are geniune from people who just haven't liked the game, but most seem very suspicious.

They're all written in the same sort of broken English and say how a competitor's title is better than ours. Furthermore, we've checked their reviewing history on AndroidLib, and most of those same people who have given us one star reviews have also given almost identically worded one star reviews to other games in the same genre... and a five star review to the competitor's title.

Now, it could be coincidence rather than conspiracy, but the developer in question has also been known to create sockpuppet accounts on this forum too, so he has form.

We've contacted Google, does anyone think they'll be able to do anything other than recommend that we mark the comments as spam? We really don't want to respond in a tit-for-tat manner, but I don't know any other way to get them to stop. Seems a bit petty, but it's frustrating to have something you've worked on for months dragged down by someone else trying to promote their own - surely indie developers should be supporting each other and working together, rather than trying to kick each other down?

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Old January 7th, 2011, 12:08 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I had a problem like this as well would be curious to hear what ended up happening for you.
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Old January 7th, 2011, 05:15 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by alostpacket View Post
I had a problem like this as well would be curious to hear what ended up happening for you.
Google got back to us, they've confirmed that some of the reviews were dodgy and have been removed, and asked us to let them know if it happens again. I don't know if they've contacted the chap in question, or removed his reviews from the other games he downrated in order to promote his own title.

RedToasty also contacted the chap directly to warn him to that we'd informed Google so he should cease and desist his activities. The guy denied all knowledge, but hopefully the fact he's been called out on it and Google has acted means that he'll stop now.

In short, it's definitely worthwhile contacting Google through the Android Market support. Androlib.com is very useful in spotting these fake reviews - when you spot that the person saying your game isn't as good as game X has done four reviews, one for game x giving it 5 stars and saying it's the best game ever, then another four identically worded 1 star reviews to other games in the same genre, it's pretty damning!

If you know who it is who's doing it, it's also worth contacting them directly. It might be that they've just been... over-enthusiastic in promoting their own game and haven't really given much thought of the impact they're having on the people behind the titles they're targeting.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 01:50 AM   #4 (permalink)
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What a joke. I just published my first paid app on the appstore. There's a really popular app that is really low quality (popular because it's the only option), so I made a better app and published it. The other app's developer spammed their own reviews with 20+ 5-star reviews.

Once I published, I got spammed with 20 1-star reviews! I did some research, and the other developer's website is registered to a ***** from *****. He also purchased the app from me. An hour later I got 20 1-star reviews. What a dirtbag. I emailed Google Play support through their form, but I don't have much faith in Google's customer service. This is really pissing me off.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 04:16 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That sucks!

Wasn't requiring G+ for reviews supposed to improve the quality and truthfulness? Maybe it's worth raising with Google that that seems not to work.
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 12:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yeah, just in time for Christmas. He's claiming in even MORE spam reviews that it has a trojan/virus. I know where this guy lives, his phone number, email address (he has no concept of the importance of privacy apparently).

I will probably do the following - wait until next week for a reply from Google. If no response, I'll contact the loser directly. If that doesn't work, I'm afraid I'll have to go nuclear and play his game. I REALLY don't want to do that, but maybe I can use 50 1-star reviews as leverage on him to delete his. But that has the potential of an arms race. And time. And I'd lose the moral high ground.

Any other thoughts from you all?
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Old December 22nd, 2012, 12:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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That sucks!

Wasn't requiring G+ for reviews supposed to improve the quality and truthfulness? Maybe it's worth raising with Google that that seems not to work.
Yeah, I think so, but it's so incredibly easy to create a Google account with Google+ and a fake name. In fact, if you have 50 Google accounts on your phone, and you download a paid app, you can use those 50 Google accounts go leave 50 reviews even though you purchased the app only once. That's a huge loophole that Google Play needs to close.
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Old January 8th, 2013, 07:41 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I posted about this over on reddit and it exploded: http://www.reddit.com/r/Android/comments/1665en/my_app_is_getting_1star_ratings_from_another_dev/

This is a big problem of Play. It's so easy to game the system, and so potentially rewarding.
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Old January 9th, 2013, 12:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Here's the basic points I hoped to make in the reddit post:

An unscrupulous developer can do the following to a) inflate his own ratings and b) destroy the ratings of competition. This is happening to me right now. This is the process:

1. Buy app.
2. Rate app.
3. Sign into another Google account.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as you have fake accounts.
5. (Optional) request a refund within 15 minutes. The ratings stay even though a refund was issued.

I made a public Google Plus post about the issue and hopefully it can get in front of some Google higher-ups eyes. Please +1 if you think the issue deserves some of Google's attention:

Google Plus Post - +1 if you think these 2 issues deserve attention
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