I was taking a Sunday stroll through XDA and came across a disturbing post by dazbradbury, author of NameBuzz which assigns unique vibration patterns to incoming callers and texts so you get the text to speech-like identification of who’s blowing up your phone without having to whip it out and look, minus all the noise which can sometimes make you look like a phone douche. It’s a free app, interesting idea, looks like some talent and time went into it.

He had been getting a solid four star ratings flow, pretty consistent, then one day, pow, NameBuzz gets pummeled by twenty single star hits. Consequently, in addition to having a 15% lower average, his app was bumped down from third place on a market search return for “caller ID” to 15th place, with none of those votes having any comments paired to them. That’s a common search term, caller ID, so to lose third place and drop off the screen toward oblivion, that sucks obviously. Sucks a lot.

Man that would flip me the F out. I’d go completely batshit and start fantasizing about doing disproportionately retaliatory things if you know what I mean — starting, I suppose, by writing an article right here that was so emotionally incendiary that Doug Smith would politely nudge me into pulling it the next day, even though it would have been a pretty good article. It would be good and you know it but he’s anal and doesn’t want to make any waves or whatever.

As the low ratings came out of nowhere with nothing he did to precipitate it (like release a busted update), that his 3.922 star rating in the past, which again was not erratic, in one day got blasted with a stack of lone stars, he suspects it was his competition fighting for higher search returns and downloads or purchases. Sounds like a good guess over what I’d call an extremely dick move, developer-on-developer assault. It’s one thing to try to bump up your own app, but this is cold blooded. Ranking theft. Hey, maybe the unsub hired an app hitman (who probably prefers the Yuan) to do the deed.

If he gets really lucky he’ll get the attention of Google to rectify this and hopefully ban the offending developer, otherwise he’s just got to sweat it out and try to climb back up to a better average but I don’t see him getting back third place. Anyway, if NameBuzz is of interest to you, or if it isn’t but you just want to help the guy out and maybe be dazzled by a nifty and practical idea for five minutes, grab it from the market, take it for a spin and rate it accordingly. I’m not asking you to give him more stars than he deserves, just a chance to secure whatever rating from you that you feel he’s earned. He made a few others too.

Unlikely that this is a totally isolated incident so Google, keep an eye out for this behavior and clean it up. I can think of multiple ways off-hand, for example red flagging of pronounced statistical divergence or multiple one or five star ratings for apps that are closer to their respective opposite side with those ratings coming in from different accounts using the same IP; c’mon you can figure this out. Help me defend you Google, help me help you.

Developers, play it straight and watch your ass with Andylitics. And as for you dazbradbury, chin up buddy, keep doing your thing and if you get jammed up, send up another flare. And if by chance you did something like this yourself or are now considering it, …  there’s really no way for me to finish this thought without jeopardizing our relationship with Google AdSense.

Doug Simmons

7 COMMENTS

  1. Aside from the amusement you seem to get at my expense, I think you did a pretty good job at shining some much needed light on crap like this. Hopefully your article can help his cause. If there is anything else we can do, let’s help a brother out.

    Doug Smith Editor-in-Chief
    -Target for blogger hostility-

  2. OR, and I know this might sound ridiculous, but you simply implement a smarter feedback system. It’s not a huge leap to imagine something which was weighted by reviewer upstandingness. I realise that’s not a word, but you understand the concept. Someone who offers good, honest, and thorough reviews gets rewarded (in the form of some karma like system) and his opinions become more weighted. Obviously in the long term this is also open to abuse, but it’s just an initial idea.

    Further, you could also weight ratings without a comment slightly lower than those with a comment. It all seems to boil down to effectively weighting ratings. I’m sure google are about a billion times smarter than me, so for them to come up with a system like this wouldn’t be that hard. I just hope they do it sooner rather than later as the Android market continues to expand at a feverish pace and having a system that can screw over certain developers is not part of google’s do no evil motto, is it?

  3. Seriously? I can’t bring up anything without a do no evil remark? Not that I don’t like a company making an effort not to do evil (EG the China situation, Google setting up Egyptians with a twitter-by-phone system), but you’re just asking for trouble my going with that tagline.

    Anyway Keith they are making an effort with the market apparently. Did you see market.android.com? A big step in the right direction.

  4. Hey fellas, the developer just posted this on his XDA thread:

    Hey doug,

    That’s an awesome article! haha. Wasn’t expecting that kind of support! It seems like you may have had an impact as well, as my historical rating now looks like this:

    Nice.

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