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Bad and inaccurate 1-star review

slahteineslahteine Posts: 196New Users
I just got my second review of ChordCalc and it's really bad. It's not just bad in the sense that it takes on weak points that I would agree with. No, it's worse than bad because it misrepresents my app completely and tells people to "stay away from this app!"

This is only the 2nd review I've gotten and I'm wondering if I should respond to it in my app writeup. I've noticed others doing this in their writeups and I always find it a little annoying, but now I understand the feeling behind it.

(Stuff in bold below is where I'm completely wrong, what!!)

I spent many months consulting with musicians and a composer about the chord naming in my app, and I know for a fact that it's 100% accurate, but the reviewer claims it's totally screwed up. He cites an example where he claims a chord with the tones E-G-C is supposed to be named Emb6, but he's actually wrong! (E-G-C is Em+ and E-G-B-C is an Emb6). Unfortunately, people who don't know chord theory are going to assume he knows what he's talking about and that my app is wrong.

He then claims the help section is hard to parse, when in fact I made certain to write it clearly and carefully. He says "the modes are misnamed" because I included a major/minor/diminished designation. He says "the mistakes are legion." He says the palettes only name flats or sharps, but that's not true either! The default setting for "Loose Tone Naming" is ON. It can be turned off to show double-flats and double-sharps for people who need them. He finishes his review by saying "it doesn't do what it says it will do whatsoever."

The first review I received was very positive, but this one is full of damning details - none of which are accurate. What can a poor developer do?
Post edited by slahteine on
| I wrote <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/chordcalc" target="_blank">ChordCalc</a>, <i>A fretboard 'calculator' for iOS</i> and <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/fretpet" target="_blank">FretPet</a>, <i>a guitar-oriented music sequencer for OS X</i>.

Replies

  • dredre Posts: 1,314Registered Users
    edited November 2009
    slahteine wrote: »
    .... What can a poor developer do?

    I feel your pain. This is another "stupid side" of the appstore. This was discussed here many times. The reviews are always skewed towards bad. We can't respond to reviews, can't explain, can't do anything. People treat it as a joke not understanding that they really hurt good developers.

    Here is what we can do... - distribute promo codes to your friends, relatives, people on forums and ask them to review your app. Ask them to "vote done" bad reviews and they will disappear.

    Unethical? It's on the border between ethical and unethical, but is Apple always ethical?
    Effective? You can fight like that vs few bad reviews. But if you get tsunami of bad reviews, then maybe it's the app's problem. That's why I see nothing wrong with doing few "friendly reviews" to offset few "moronic reviews" to make the game fair.
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  • smashersmasher Posts: 3,859Registered Users @ @ @ @ @
    edited November 2009
    Submit some promo code to music mags and some forums. If you're right and he's wrong, I bet you can find a forum of passionate music folks who would be happy to nitpick his mistakes.

    I don't know if reporting the review to Apple will help, since they probably won't know enough about music to know who's right. The discussion was certainly above my head.
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  • jamesbrannanjamesbrannan Posts: 182New Users
    edited November 2009
    slahteine wrote: »
    I just got my second review of ChordCalc and it's really bad. It's not just bad in the sense that it takes on weak points that I would agree with. No, it's worse than bad because it misrepresents my app completely and tells people to "stay away from this app!"

    This is only the 2nd review I've gotten and I'm wondering if I should respond to it in my app writeup. I've noticed others doing this in their writeups and I always find it a little annoying, but now I understand the feeling behind it.

    I spent many months consulting with musicians and a composer about the chord naming in my app, and I know for a fact that it's 100% accurate, but the reviewer claims it's totally screwed up. He cites an example where he claims a chord with the tones E-G-C is supposed to be named Emb6, but he's actually wrong! (E-G-C is Em+ and E-G-B-C is an Emb6). Unfortunately, people who don't know chord theory are going to assume he knows what he's talking about and that my app is wrong.

    He then claims the help section is hard to parse, when in fact I made certain to write it clearly and carefully. He says "the modes are misnamed" because I included a major/minor/diminished designation. He says "the mistakes are legion." He says the palettes only name flats or sharps, but that's not true either! The default setting for "Loose Tone Naming" is ON. It can be turned off to show double-flats and double-sharps for people who need them. He finishes his review by saying "it doesn't do what it says it will do whatsoever."

    The first review I received was very positive, but this one is full of damning details - none of which are accurate. What can a poor developer do?

    The best you can do is don't take it personally. I've had to learn that too...my very first review on Amazon was "I feel sorry for anyone who uses this book"....I responded, realized that made me look like the ***, and just let nature take its course...it did, I have some good, some bad. Same for the videos on Vimeo. If you put something out there you have to accept that some folks are going to not only review something negatively, but they are going to be "mean-spirited" about it.

    You know, you could always pay that Apptism/Apptivity ...whatever his name is...guy his $150 dollar fee to have a focus group of 25 people or so to review it. Search around the forum, you'll see him advertise (I have no affiliation with his service...but its worth a shot for you probably).

    He assures me they are bonna-fide reviews by a focus group...just a thought.

    James A. Brannan
    iPhone SDK Programming: A Beginner's Guide

    iNtervalTunes
  • dredre Posts: 1,314Registered Users
    edited November 2009
    The difference, James, between amazon and appstore is that your book is visible on Amazon all the time. Even when you have a bad review, people will still see your book, might give a try to buy - and if it's good you will eventually get good reviews.

    With appstore - your app is visible only 1-2 days (in new releases section), and that's it. Your first few days' sale is gonna put you in top 100 or it won't. If you get bad review at the very beginning, then it will hurt your sales very bad. And in couple of days you will be buried under hundreds of new releases - and that's it, kill the app. Even if 100 people will leave positive reviews for your app later, you will be hurt badly anyway, because your app won't be visible anymore.

    You can fantasize about "promotion", but the reality is simple: people buy apps from the phone mostly. They select category, check couple of pages (at most), pay a buck and get some app. So only top 100 sell - regardless if it's junk or not. That's a reality of genius "appstore".
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  • jamesbrannanjamesbrannan Posts: 182New Users
    edited November 2009
    dre wrote: »
    The difference, James, between amazon and appstore is that your book is visible on Amazon all the time. Even when you have a bad review, people will still see your book, might give a try to buy - and if it's good you will eventually get good reviews.

    With appstore - your app is visible only 1-2 days (in new releases section), and that's it. Your first few days' sale is gonna put you in top 100 or it won't. If you get bad review at the very beginning, then it will hurt your sales very bad. And in couple of days you will be buried under hundreds of new releases - and that's it, kill the app. Even if 100 people will leave positive reviews for your app later, you will be hurt badly anyway, because your app won't be visible anymore.

    You can fantasize about "promotion", but the reality is simple: people buy apps from the phone mostly. They select category, check couple of pages (at most), pay a buck and get some app. So only top 100 sell - regardless if it's junk or not. That's a reality of genius "appstore".
    Let's agree to disagree, promotion isn't a fantasy, but a business reality...But back to the point, just develop thick skin and accept that some folks are going to be critical - you have to be in it for the long haul.
  • slahteineslahteine Posts: 196New Users
    edited November 2009
    I'm cool with critics, so long as they're accurate. It turns out this reviewer has a point about the "Em+" chord even though the rest of his review is bunk. According to the person who was supposed to have been consulting me about this kind of thing in the first place, there is no such thing as a minor augmented chord. So thanks to this reviewer at least I'm alerted that there are things I need to fix in my algorithms.

    And so off I go to fix them for the next release!
    | I wrote <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/chordcalc" target="_blank">ChordCalc</a>, <i>A fretboard 'calculator' for iOS</i> and <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/fretpet" target="_blank">FretPet</a>, <i>a guitar-oriented music sequencer for OS X</i>.
  • jamesbrannanjamesbrannan Posts: 182New Users
    edited November 2009
    slahteine wrote: »
    I'm cool with critics, so long as they're accurate. It turns out this reviewer has a point about the "Em+" chord even though the rest of his review is bunk. According to the person who was supposed to have been consulting me about this kind of thing in the first place, there is no such thing as a minor augmented chord. So thanks to this reviewer at least I'm alerted that there are things I need to fix in my algorithms.
    And so off I go to fix them for the next release!
    Cool, as your app is actually intended to be *useful* gulp, it's probably going to be a slow - but steady - seller, that requires nurturing and improvement...I don't care what anyone says to the contrary, a quality app requires the same care and longer term strategy as a regular application. I have been doing the same for my writing and my apps...taking the criticism and making stuff better. My 2 cents.

    James A. Brannan
  • slahteineslahteine Posts: 196New Users
    edited November 2009
    Hear hear, sir, I doff my cap. I shoulda known, and I feel strangely honored in receiving the cold reception of a critic-at-large.

    Still, I shake my fist at him.
    | I wrote <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/chordcalc" target="_blank">ChordCalc</a>, <i>A fretboard 'calculator' for iOS</i> and <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/fretpet" target="_blank">FretPet</a>, <i>a guitar-oriented music sequencer for OS X</i>.
  • happymondayshappymondays Posts: 74Registered Users
    edited November 2009
    slahteine wrote: »
    Hear hear, sir, I doff my cap. I shoulda known, and I feel strangely honored in receiving the cold reception of a critic-at-large.

    Still, I shake my fist at him.

    There is a 'Report a Concern' link by each review. Report the review as misleading. Apple will remove it if there are 2-3 complaints.
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  • tarnptarnp Posts: 37Registered Users
    edited November 2009
    There is a 'Report a Concern' link by each review. Report the review as misleading. Apple will remove it if there are 2-3 complaints.

    this is true... believe it or not...I had a one star review on my app, MyRide, that was totally off base.. I filled out the report a concern section and Apple eventually removed the review.
  • ChrisLChrisL Posts: 580Registered Users @ @ @
    edited November 2009
    It's very frustrating when you pour a huge amount a time into a project and then some anonymous "expert" comes along and spews a bunch of vitriol in a review. I think a project like yours, slahteine, is especially prone to these types of reviews, because topics like music theory are such a subjective fields. Depending on where you learn it, the notation and interpretation can be very different.

    Kind of OT, but I'm guessing your knowledge of music theory is primarily from a guitar playing background? I majored in music in college (classically trained), and glancing at your app, it seems that the notation you're using is somewhat different than what I was taught. For instance, the E-G-C chord would usually be called a C Maj chord in first inversion (C/E), but depending on the context, it could also act as an E-min chord with an added minor 6th (with the fifth omitted). The correct spelling would really be determined by the chord's function. But in a strict classical interpretation, you would never ever call the interval E->C an augmented 5th -- that would be spelled E->B# -- so the way I was taught Em+ would never be correct for E-G-C.

    So, again, I'm not familiar with the way you were taught, but I can kind of see where the reviewer is coming from, at least with regard to the chord spellings. That doesn't mean your system is necessarily wrong, though -- perhaps we just learned slightly different rules. In any case, the reviewer certainly could have made his point without coming off like a total jerk.

    All of this does bring up a more general question, though -- when you're making an app that's geared toward a pretty specialized audience, how do you describe it so that people who aren't in the intended audience don't dismiss it outright because they misunderstand who it's meant for?
  • Slayer5150Slayer5150 Posts: 471Registered Users
    edited November 2009
    I ignore reviews in the app store because 99% of the positive ones are bullshit (the author gave out codes to have some friends rate him up) anyway. Funny thing is the negative reviews are usually the most accurate. You can try to deny this, but we weren't born last night, its easy to see through a fake positive review.
  • rocotilosrocotilos Posts: 3,286iPhone Dev SDK Supporter, Registered Users @ @ @ @ @
    edited November 2009
    I second what smasher said. Try to get those musician mags editor to review your app, that'll do your app justice, once and for all.
  • jamesbrannanjamesbrannan Posts: 182New Users
    edited November 2009
    rocotilos wrote: »
    I second what smasher said. Try to get those musician mags editor to review your app, that'll do your app justice, once and for all.
    Therein lies the rub, trying to get that to happen can take as much time and effort as it did to develop the application. :eek:

    But if you believe in your app. it is, of course, worth the effort IMHO.

    James A. Brannan
    iPhone SDK Programming: A Beginner's Guide
    iNtervalTunes
  • dredre Posts: 1,314Registered Users
    edited November 2009
    Slayer5150 wrote: »
    I ignore reviews in the app store because 99% of the positive ones are bullshit (the author gave out codes to have some friends rate him up) anyway. Funny thing is the negative reviews are usually the most accurate. You can try to deny this, but we weren't born last night, its easy to see through a fake positive review.

    Very true.. I also read only negative reviews when I decide whether to buy an app or not... If negative review is well written, then I don't buy the app.

    But here is a problem with the review process. To leave a review for an app that you bought and like you need to go to the appstore, find that app (AGAIN), login, leave the review. How many people do that? Yet when you are angry - you will leave the review. So if you have 2000 happy customers and 10 unhappy (and you can't always keep everybody happy), you get 10 bad reviews which will kill your business.

    In my free game I have 6000 downloads (with 1000 levels passed daily, based on my ads statistics), yet I got only 6-7 reviews worldwide (two 1 star, the rest - 5, from which one was my friend). I got about 80 ratings totally (1/3 5 star, 2/3 1-2 stars) - more likely these are people who deleted the app. And what about 1000 people playing it every day? nobody leaves a review because it's just not convenient.

    review process is just another screw up of the appstore and people are trying to find a way to deal with it. yes, it defeats the purpose of the whole review thing... I wish Apple was listening, it's not that hard to fix
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  • jegentjegent Posts: 10Registered Users
    edited November 2009
    I know my frustration with the review/comment process isn't the negative reviews -- but the developer of an app that is similar to mine is constantly re-submitting his 1 star negative review over and over again, so that it remains last on the page (which becomes the first review that you can see when you're looking at the app store thru your iPhone). It's frustrating that the App Store lets you resubmit then bumps the comments to the end! Doesn't seem fair. It's in bad taste, but it's probably best to ignore them and focus your energy to promote your own app...in the end your hard work and effort will be rewarded.
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  • slahteineslahteine Posts: 196New Users
    edited November 2009
    Well, on the bright side of things (?) the reviewer made me re-examine my app more closely, and I found out that there was a serious bug with extended diminished chords. I've been using the same code in one of my shareware apps for over 10 years and never noticed! So I just spent the last 3 days studying everything I could get my hands on and totally rewrote my chord notation code from scratch. It's much better now!

    One of these days I'll have to blog on the problem. Writing code to name chords isn't rocket science, but it's not exactly easy either. I ended up with a long long "if...else" block, testing bitmasks against one another from big chords down to small. It was supposed to be placeholder code, a way to start looking at the problem and derive an elegant 100 line solution. But it works very well and very fast, and there are more optimizations yet to be found, so I might just stick with it.

    ChrisL, I hear you. The notation produced in my app isn't on the level of "the second inversion" because it doesn't presume any note ordering or even which octave a given tone is in. It just produces 12 names for any combination of notes within a single octave, each one rooted in a different note. It just adds up the intervals from that reference-point. So when C-E-G is called a "C" chord it actually implies every inversion. It's also every inversion of Emb6 (no 5th), Am7 (no root), etc., etc.

    The notation I'm using is essentially a liberal form of jazz theory, and the only general principles it applies are: (a) it prefers well-formed chords and (b) it avoids dissonances by promoting certain tones to the second octave. So under the right conditions b2 becomes b9, 4 becomes 11, 6 becomes 13, etc. Sometimes 3 becomes 10, but I'm trying to limit that because it implies two perfect thirds, which isn't part of ChordCalc's octave-agnostic vocabulary.

    The app will allow you to make a chord with all 12 tones if you want, and it will give you 12 hideous names for it too. After people try that a few times I'm sure they'll get back to using it for more reasonable chords. :-)

    I've got my fingers crossed that Apple will post the updated version soon. I have to say, the waiting is driving me a little crazy. Now I have two weeks to get the next version after that ready. Maybe I'll add compound chords next... hmm....
    | I wrote <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/chordcalc" target="_blank">ChordCalc</a>, <i>A fretboard 'calculator' for iOS</i> and <a href="http://www.thinkyhead.com/fretpet" target="_blank">FretPet</a>, <i>a guitar-oriented music sequencer for OS X</i>.
  • bw748bw748 Posts: 86Registered Users @
    edited November 2009
    I could not disagree more with the person who posted that they only believe negative reviews because all "positive reviews are fake". There are plenty of real positive reviews and plenty of fake negative reviews. Overall, the entire review system is hugely problematic for the simple fact that it encourages and does nothing to prevent both negative and positive fake reviews. IMO, the best thing to do is find a lite version of the app you're considering buying and draw your own conclusions.

    There's a lot of things that Apple can do to improve the review system, but at this point, it really seems like they don't care. Their priority is selling hardware devices and having as much quality cheap app store software as possible available to promote their hardware devices. Their priority isn't selling app store software.
  • ChrisLChrisL Posts: 580Registered Users @ @ @
    edited November 2009
    slahteine wrote: »
    ChrisL, I hear you. The notation produced in my app isn't on the level of "the second inversion" because it doesn't presume any note ordering or even which octave a given tone is in. It just produces 12 names for any combination of notes within a single octave, each one rooted in a different note. It just adds up the intervals from that reference-point. So when C-E-G is called a "C" chord it actually implies every inversion. It's also every inversion of Emb6 (no 5th), Am7 (no root), etc., etc.

    The notation I'm using is essentially a liberal form of jazz theory, and the only general principles it applies are: (a) it prefers well-formed chords and (b) it avoids dissonances by promoting certain tones to the second octave. So under the right conditions b2 becomes b9, 4 becomes 11, 6 becomes 13, etc. Sometimes 3 becomes 10, but I'm trying to limit that because it implies two perfect thirds, which isn't part of ChordCalc's octave-agnostic vocabulary.

    The app will allow you to make a chord with all 12 tones if you want, and it will give you 12 hideous names for it too. After people try that a few times I'm sure they'll get back to using it for more reasonable chords. :-)
    Makes sense. Given that, I think the best you can do is to just try to make it clear that the app isn't appropriate for everyone. I see that you've updated your app description, so it sounds like you're already doing this. Obviously, you want to maximize sales, but on the other hand weeding out a prospective customer who's clearly not going to benefit from the app is probably better for its reputation in the long run.
  • TunaNuggetTunaNugget Posts: 1,119Registered Users @ @ @ @
    edited November 2009
    slahteine, I have no idea what you just said :)
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