Like most developers I pay pretty close attention to the reviews I receive on the app store. The last major update of Photo Notes that I did in the fall was pretty well received and I had a slow but steady stream of positive reviews. In fact, over the course of a few months I had 50 reviews and all of them were 4 or 5 stars (mostly 5 star). You can imagine my dismay when I started getting a series of one star reviews, that were factually inaccurate posted at a rate of about one per day.
It was pretty clear to me that someone was attacking Photo Notes Free. It’s hard to understand what would motivate someone to do that, but it was pretty clear that it was coordinated.
Conveniently I had just released an update to the app (after the first few troll-like reviews were posted), and one of the features that I was releasing was the framework to interact directly with my users. I decided to give that a whirl. I crafted a simple webpage with a link directly to the review page for Photo Notes Free in the app store.
This page would appear every second time the app was launched, but only for people who had used the app a few times. All of that is configurable in the interaction framework (which I promise to share in a future post).
I also reported the malicious reviews to Apple and requested that they take them down. I hadn’t tried that before, so I didn’t have a clue as to how (or even if) Apple would respond. If you are interested, you can report bogus reviews by going to iTunes connect, selecting “Contact Us” then “App Store Questions” then “Customer Reviews” then “Specific Removal Request”.
The next day I checked my reviews, and the Photo Notes users came through in spades! I had fifteen new four and five star reviews! A few days later, Apple came through as well – they removed all of the reviews that I had reported.