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Mark_OB1
Posts: 1,580
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Registered: ‎12-14-2010
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[Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

[ Edited ]

The new Nook App Shop for NOOKcolor apps has a nice feature, where reviews can be left for apps, and 1-5 star evaluation Ratings may be posted.  This could be very useful in determining overall satisfaction with each App, as well as what customers like and don't like, when browsing apps in the Shop.

 

Unfortunately, it's not "customers" that are reviewing many of the apps.  "Customer" being defined as one who has bought the product.  Unfortunately, anyone can review an app, whether they've bought it or not.  Or even seen it.  Some of the problems are:

 

- many reviews are by "Anonymous"

 

- many "reviewers" have never seen the product

 

- many comments have nothing to do with the product itself

 

For example, here's a sample of 1-Star 'reviews':

 

- "I can't decide.  Should I buy this or not?"

 

- "Why is B&N charging a buck for this? It should be free. I'm not buying it."

 

- "They can't even get the screen shot for this right. It's for a different product."

 

- "Ha, Ha, Ha!  This is fun."

 

- "The price is ridiculously high. It should only cost $X".

 

It really shouldn't be possible for pranksters, confused people asking questions, or misdirected commenters to degrade the rating of an app that they've neither bought nor used.  None of the apps in question deserved the 1-star ratings they received.

 

There's also some of the same nonsense at the other end of the spectrum, with 5 stars being awarded for no reason.  Similar examples could be cited, but they're all too obvious from just a quick check. 

 

A claim could be made that these balance out and nullify themselves, but I certainly wouldn't want to count on that.  Also, even if they DO balance out, that's a 3-star drag or boost to apps that don't deserve either.

 

B&N needs to address these problems quickly, or the value of the whole Rating mechanism will be lost.  Customer feedback is great, even if it's negative.  But it needs to be from actual customers. 

 

I can't imagine any Developers are too thrilled with this state of affairs.  If your Devs aren't happy, that won't bode well for future submissions or ongoing maintenance and support.  Which will negatively impact the viability of the platform.

 

- Mark

 

Mark_OB1
Posts: 1,580
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Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

[ Edited ]

One other thing that wasn't clear to me from looking at the reviews is whether you are limited to just one for each product, or if you can post as many as you like?  Certainly under the cloud of "anonymous", one person could post many comments, either pro or con, and swing the ratings.  This shouldn't be possible.

 

- Mark

 

Mark_OB1
Posts: 1,580
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Registered: ‎12-14-2010

Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

[ Edited ]

Some Basic Recommendations:

 

Obviously, B&N can't go through and vette all the comments being made.  That's too labor intensive.  It also opens the door to complaints about censoring opinions.  But there are some things they could do.

 

1)  Qualification:  only someone who has bought a particular app can post a review on it.  that right there will get rid of a huge portion of the garbage posts.

 

2)  Accountability:  every review has to be tied to a named reviewer, who is responsible for its contents.  no more "anonymous" snipes.

 

3)  Community monitoring:  add a Notify button to each review to allow customers to let B&N know if a review is bogus in some way.  then set a threshold level, and if you see many folks pointing out a problem, a B&N monitor could remove it, if appropriate.

 

4)  Equality:  only 1 review to a customer.  multiple votes should not be allowed.  updating one's vote, to reflect changes should be allowed (and encouraged).

 

These are just a couple thoughts, off the top of my head.  I'm sure others will have good ideas to add to the list.  Implementing these would go a long way towards making the Customer Review process the valuable information resource it was intended to be.

 

- Mark

 

Inspired Correspondent
ladytonya
Posts: 178
Registered: ‎10-28-2010

Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

The problem with B&N's review feature is that you don't actually have to own the product or app in order to post a review. They might want to consider something along the lines of the Apple App Store and iTunes or even the Android Market and Amazon App Market. With all of these stores, you have to have purchased an item before you can leave a review. This simple requirement would eliminate the useless comments and questions about a product that seem to appear in the review section of the B&N market.

Distinguished Bibliophile
deemure
Posts: 3,933
Registered: ‎12-28-2009

Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

 

This is also applicable to nookbooks and not just apps.  People rate books they don't even buy or they give low ratings to Free Friday books they don't want.  The option to review should be ghosted out unless the person has purchased it. 

 

It's easier to do this with apps, but books would be more difficult since it's possible to buy the DTB.  Maybe they should just not allow anonymous reviews for books or have nookbook ratings be separate from DTB ones since most of the bad reviews are aimed at the nookbook ones.

 

It's so frustrating to weed through inane reviews by people who haven't bought an app and are just mad because it costs money or their cousin said not to buy it or whatever.

"I still believe in spite of everything that people are good at heart." Anne Frank.
Wordsmith
melouria
Posts: 413
Registered: ‎12-28-2010

Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

I left a review of a book on Amazon without purchasing it (the author provided it free) but I did have to sign in to Amazon in order to submit the review.  I agree that at the very least B&N should not allow anonymous reviews. 

Distinguished Correspondent
SLevine
Posts: 345
Registered: ‎03-08-2011
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Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

These are all great suggestions, I'm taking note of them to discuss with our dev team.  Keep them coming!

Contributor
Karyn429
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎01-04-2011
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Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

If I just see 1 positive review of a book, i assume that it is written by the author or a friend of the author. Similar issue.
Frequent Contributor
dkennedy66
Posts: 28
Registered: ‎05-03-2011

Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

It shouldn't be hard to prohibit people from rating before they have made a purchase.

 

Another problem in the comments is people asking questions or reporting problems. It would be helpful if there was a way to do this that is as convenient as the rating system. A button right there next to the rating button would reduce the amount of junk in the rating system.

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NookGardener
Posts: 1,048
Registered: ‎05-21-2011
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Re: [Problem, App Shop]: NC: Validity & Usefulness of Customer "Reviews"

Alex, can this be moved to the ideas and suggestions area? Would add that I think the isse has gotten worse. Even legitimate reviews (had poster names next to them a few months ago) are now all "anonymous." And people who haven't purchased apps are still somehow able to review them (which makes no sense.)