Support » Requests and Feedback » Improving reviews

  • A few simple checkboxes at the top of the plugin review form could transform the all too often whiny, demanding, entitled, extortionary, spammy system that exists now into one that encourages critical thinking and constructive criticism, such as the following:

    ✓ Yes, this review is not a request for support or new features
    ✓ Yes, I have carefully read the plugin/theme description and FAQ already
    ✓ Yes, I understand this free software is contributed by volunteers in their spare time

    You could also:

    — require basic account verification to post reviews
    — limit reviews to older/active accounts
    — etc, etc

    Way too many plugin reviews are either fake positives (spam) or vengeful whiny rants from users who think they are owed something. It’s arguably well past time for wp.org to take a page from Yelp or Facebook’s playbook and required some merit and validation…

    • This topic was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by  LittleBizzy.
    • This topic was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by  LittleBizzy.

    The page I need help with: [log in to see the link]

Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 33 total)
  • catacaustic

    (@catacaustic)

    very awesome

    Nope. Won’t help.

    How do I know? Have you ever tried to get surveys or feedback from users? Any time that boxes like that are available, they’ll either all be ticked or none of them wil be ticked. Sure, there will be the odd 0.0001% of people that actually read what the options are, and out of that, an even smaller percentage will actually think about it ehough to check only the right ones. Your example is actually one of the worst things, because people will have to tick them to continue, so people that are not happy with anything at all to do with the plugin will jut tick them all so they can leave their feedback.

    Moderator Jan Dembowski

    (@jdembowski)

    Brute Squad and Volunteer Moderator

    *Drinks coffee*

    Please do not use catchy click-baity topic titles here.

    I don’t believe putting qualifiers like the ones you’re suggesting is a good idea. That’s just a barrier to discourage feedback and that’s not the goal of reviews here.

    Your problem is that some reviewers are apparently feeling entitled. That’s cool but this attitude from yourself doesn’t help at all.

    Way too many plugin reviews are either fake positives (spam) or vengeful whiny rants from users who think they are owed something.

    The moderators are very good at finding “fake” and spam reviews. It may take a while but those reviews are dealt with.

    Here’s the thing: the reviews here are feedback only. While users are not customers and sometimes get a little entitled, the majority of them are not that way at all. They’re leaving feedback about code posted here.

    They’re also mostly nameless and don’t have a reputation that they want to protect. You’re a plugin author, when you reply with that attitude you’re not effecting a nameless person. You’re letting people know how you feel about your user base.

    *Drinks more coffee, coffee is good*

    This isn’t a new thing. Give this a read. It’s for people who leave reviews and the people who author plugins and themes.

    About Plugin and Theme Reviews

    This video is also good on that topic.

    The reviews here aren’t for the plugin or theme authors, they don’t need qualifiers to permit them or make them valid for the authors. They are feedback for and to the community.

    I do agree most reviewers are fine, but why not seek improvement?

    They’re also mostly nameless and don’t have a reputation that they want to protect.

    Exactly correct — despite being a free product released to the community, slanderous reviews and other trash talking still affect our company reputation, even (especially?) when coming from whiny anonymous online handles, if only because it confuses less-techy users from a clear understanding of the plugin (or theme) functionality.

    This leaves us with 6 options:

    1. Ignore the slander/extortion/trash (would not be my choice)
    2. Ask WP.org to remove slander/extortion/trash (pointless, as they refuse)
    3. Suggest realistic improvements that would decrease the posting of meritless reviews and encourage constructive criticism (pointless, as it will be readily shot down by WP.org mods)
    4. Track down the trash talkers and deal with it directly
    5. Acquire fake positive reviews
    6. Fill up the WP Admin screen with annoying notices asking for reviews

    The path of logic here is simple — for being so desirous of feedback as you say, you’d think at some point WP.org would realize why plugin authors so often pursue #5 so much, and it is because #2 and #3 are so understood by the community to be true, unfortunately.

    Since I don’t believe in fake reviews, this leaves us to #4 (or #6). If you think it’s stupid or “bad for our image” you’re simply mistaken, as we’ve done this successfully for many years, on and off WP.org. The end result is less slander, and more users thinking twice before they slander for no reason. In turn, more users are then interested in checking out our products.

    ===> moderate / verb: to make or become less extreme, intense, rigorous, or violent.

    The fact is that the WP.org is a bit stuck in its ways. Instead of “moderating” plugin reviews — making them less extreme — the reviews system functions more like an unpredictable, inconsistent stream of extremity. Whether we as a plugin author are even allowed to reply to a review is currently dependent on which WP.org moderator is awake at the moment and “agrees” or “disagrees” with our reply.

    Where are the rules and SOPs here? It’s mostly either vague 5-star reviews being fed by WP Admin notices, or ridiculous 1-star slander.

    Does either sound very helpful to anyone?

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  LittleBizzy.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  LittleBizzy.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  Steve Stern.
    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 5 days ago by  Steve Stern.
    Moderator Steve Stern

    (@sterndata)

    1. Ignore the slander/extortion/trash (would not be my choice)
    2. Ask WP.org to remove slander/extortion/trash (pointless, as they refuse)
    3. Suggest realistic improvements that would decrease the posting of meritless reviews and encourage constructive criticism (pointless, as it will be readily shot down by WP.org mods)
    4. Track down the trash talkers and deal with it directly
    5. Acquire fake positive reviews
    6. Fill up the WP Admin screen with annoying notices asking for reviews

    1. we remove extortion reviews. Keep in mind there’s a difference between “I’m giving you one star because your plugin does not have a pony” and “If you give me a pony I’ll change this to a 5 start review.”

    2. If it’s really slanderous or extortion, we do.

    3. You’re confusing “will always be shot down” with “my suggestions have not been accepted.”

    4. What happens in the forums should stay in the forums. You don’t want folks “following you home”. You should do the same.

    5. More work for us and could get you kicked out of the repository if we catch you at it.

    6. Oh God, no, no no!

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    @littlebizzy There actually is a correct way to deal with a bad review. The problem you have is that you’re fairly terrible at doing so.

    Lemme give you an example:
    https://wordpress.org/support/topic/still-getting-fragments/

    Here, the guy says that it doesn’t work and is slow. Okay, fairly lame review. But let’s examine your reply. You tell him that he may need to clear caches, which is a reasonable possible answer and response. However, you then go on to tell him that he’s trashing you, that he made the mistake, and then imply that he’s stupid because he didn’t read the readme or the FAQ.

    Basically, you’re taking things *way* too personally and getting defensive. You see these people posting things as if they’re attacking you. Your reply makes you look like an awful, terrible person. Imagine I’m a person looking at your reviews. I see that this guy didn’t post a lot of information and that he probably doesn’t know what he’s doing. That review has little to no value. It’s like a review written poorly and misspelled on Amazon. I ignore it. But then I see your response, and how much of a total jerk you were to that guy, and instantly, I decide not to use your plugin simply because the author is just so very, very awful.

    That’s exactly why that is the wrong way to respond to a bad review.

    But, if you wrote a reply that was just the first part, and kept it professional and simple and just suggested a line of reasoning to follow to fix whatever problems this guy has, then now, you’re seen as somebody who is professional, who is possibly helpful, who bothers to respond to even clearly dumb reviews and questions. That’s a plugin author that attracts users, instead of drives them away. That “bad review” is now a “good review”. One that sells you as a good author, and the plugin is seen favorably despite the one-star review. Turns the negative into a positive.

    So, my advice to you is to stop blaming “the system” for the problem when really the problem all comes back down to how you handle criticism. This is not eBay, you don’t need a perfect 5 stars. People read reviews, but those are *people* reading them, with their own views. It’s not always bad vs. good.

    @otto42 I love how you just called me a d**k, after threatening to ban me from WP.org a few months ago for calling a plugin reviewer a d**che.

    Got it — d**ks are okay, d**ches are not. “Turd sandwiches” TBD… 😉

    However, you then go on to tell him that he’s trashing you, that he made the mistake, and then imply that he’s stupid because he didn’t read the readme or the FAQ.

    All of which are 100% true and accurate. When future users read his review, they will realize that we reply immediately, are willing to help, and that the plugin does in fact work properly, but we don’t put up with slander. The problem is that WP.org expects us to treat users like customers, which they aren’t, and even if they were our customers isn’t that our choice how to deal with them?

    The only thing that should matter is if users, or plugin authors, are breaking the rules of WP.org, which is exactly what I’m hoping to clarify better. But as your reply exemplifies, the rules are applied a bit inconsistently.

    That review has little to no value. It’s like a review written poorly and misspelled on Amazon.

    Agreed — and Amazon would have deleted it for those reasons.

    Your reply makes you look like an awful, terrible person… So, my advice to you is to stop blaming “the system” for the problem when really the problem all comes back down to how you handle criticism.

    While I sincerely appreciate the advice, I simply disagree. If the “system” was improved and guidelines clarified, there would be no need to discuss how to best respond to slander on WP.org, because it wouldn’t exist (or less of it). Ultimately, our personal views of each other shouldn’t matter here, unless moderation decisions are based on emotion and personal biases.

    TL;DR: better rules and SOPs + a reminder on the review screen would be huge.

    Kindly remember that WordPress is more than Automattic employees, forum moderators, and clueless newbies. There are thousands of small businesses around the world that hold the entire community together; some willingness to experiment and less hostility to plugin authors would be quite beneficial IMO.

    Anyway, thanks for the exchange here, cheers ~

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    I love how you just called me a d**k, after threatening to ban me from WP.org a few months ago for calling a plugin reviewer a d**che.

    No, I said your response made you look that way.

    See, it’s all about how you respond to criticism. You take things personally. I’m trying to show you how others will see you will affect their perceptions of you and your plugin.

    we don’t put up with slander

    See, that’s sort of what I’m talking about. That guy in no way slandered you. Somebody leaving a review saying that your plugin doesn’t work is not “slander” in any sense of the word whatsoever. A review is about somebody’s experience. If they couldn’t get it to work for them, then they say it doesn’t work, then that is not a criticism of you or your skills as a plugin developer.

    The problem is that WP.org expects us to treat users like customers

    No, I expect you to treat them like living, breathing, fellow human beings. People who generally don’t know what they’re doing wrong when they’re doing something wrong. People who get frustrated and confused easily. You know, like everybody else in the world does.

    Kindly remember that WordPress is more than Automattic employees, forum moderators, and clueless newbies.

    Fair enough, but those “clueless newbies” are the vast majority of not just WordPress users, but nearly *all people in the world*. Most people don’t know how their website works. They have never touched PHP code in their life, they probably don’t even know how to directly access the files on their website if they need to change something. Look at the number of times somebody on this forum has asked what FTP is when they actually have a functioning website. People exist who have WordPress sites who have literally never used a text editor to edit a file before, and yes, their reviews count too.

    That’s what I’m saying here. It’s fine to point out things and be helpful, it’s not okay to think that people who aren’t as smart as you are slandering you and then to treat them like shit for it.

    Otto,

    Slander is verbal, so reviews can’t be slanderous. But many reviews are libellous

    Ie

    a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation

    The current situation allows these to be published and naturally it’s frustrating to plugin authors.

    Pete

    Moderator Jan Dembowski

    (@jdembowski)

    Brute Squad and Volunteer Moderator

    Slander is verbal, so reviews can’t be slanderous. But many reviews are libellous

    If someone is abusive then that gets caught when reported and removed. If someone’s feedback is “I installed a plugin and my WordPress installation caught fire” then that is in no way slanderous or libelous. That’s feedback only and authors are encouraged to reply reasonably.

    What is not reasonable is to call the reviewers names, stalk the reviewer off of these forums, leave retribution reviews on and off of these forums.

    If an author is browbeating anyone to change their reviews then that author is wrong and needs to strongly consider removing their plugins from this community repository.

    Anyone trying to use this repo as a business lead or driver is making a critical mistake. Do not think that user feedback is something author’s control here. It’s not, these reviews will always be about feedback.

    If someone’s feedback is “I installed a plugin and my WordPress installation caught fire” then that is in no way slanderous or libelous. That’s feedback only and authors are encouraged to reply reasonably.

    Not sure where you get this from — surely not from the U.S. legal code, which has clear definitions of defamation and business disparagement:

    https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/defamation-law-made-simple-29718.html

    http://smallbusiness.findlaw.com/business-laws-and-regulations/commercial-disparagement.html

    Any public statement that is factually inaccurate and damages the reputation of a person or entity can be considered defamation, e.g.:

    1. this plugin destroyed my site!
    2. this plugin is injecting spam links!
    3. this plugin promised to support Multisite, but doesn’t!

    …these are all clear instances of such. It doesn’t matter if the defamation was accidental or on purpose, it still can be a “civil tort”. If the reviewer simply says something like “I hate this plugin”, that is a different matter.

    Yelp was just ordered to reveal a defamer’s identity again yesterday:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-13/yelp-ordered-to-identify-user-accused-of-defaming-tax-preparer

    Section 230 may protect e.g. WP.org from being accused of defamation on behalf of their users, but it may not absolve all responsibility. Ultimately, tracking down users who defame plugin/theme authors is the only recourse we have (and is exactly how defamation cases are brought in a court of law):

    https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230

    https://www.wired.com/2017/01/the-most-important-law-in-tech-has-a-problem/

    https://www.law.com/therecorder/sites/therecorder/2017/11/10/section-230-keeps-platforms-for-defamation-and-threats-highly-profitable/?slreturn=20171014154728

    What is not reasonable is to call the reviewers names, stalk the reviewer off of these forums, leave retribution reviews on and off of these forums.

    Calling people names or generally insulting other entities is the one thing here that’s actually legal. If you are speaking toward the “rules” of WP.org, again, not sure where you found these rules, because I haven’t seen anything of the sort, so this appears to be your personal interpretation (which is why we are here asking for better clarification and consistency of the rules).

    You also directly contradict your post from a few weeks ago, where you claim that “bringing slights from other sites has nothing to do [with WP.org]”:

    https://wordpress.org/support/topic/does-not-work-on-multisite-7/#post-9456967

    So which is it? Are the WP.org mods policing the behavior of plugin authors around the web now, or is this a self-contained community? Is WP.org literally telling plugin authors not to exercise their legal right to fight defamation, or they will be banned from the WP.org directories? Is defamation something that WP.org wishes to prevent, or something they will allow on a case-by-case basis?

    Perhaps it seems overblown in the world of one-sentence plugin reviews, and indeed it’s not worth “the time” in most cases. But at the least this exercise might inspire some careful thought and future policies. Cheers ~

    Moderator Samuel Wood (Otto)

    (@otto42)

    WordPress.org Admin

    If you feel that you have been defamed or that a review is libel, then by all means, bring it up to a moderator and they’ll take a look at it.

    If they disagree with you about what it is, and you want to take action against the person who you think is attacking you, then by all means, hire a qualified attorney. Seek their opinion on the matter.

    But, if you want to act like a jerk on our forums and call people names and such, then we will ban you for doing so.

    These are privately owned forums, and there is no right of free speech here. You are allowed to say what you want only up to a point.

    That’s why we have moderators. They make those decisions. If you disagree with their decisions, then you can bring it to me and I’ll examine it.

    However, in this case, I’m not seeing any case where they have made a bad call here, and your suggestion of adding additional checkboxes to the review screen strikes me as an ineffective solution which would not actually change anything.

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)

    (@ipstenu)

    🏳️‍🌈 Halfelf Rogue & Plugin Review Team Rep

    https://wordpress.org/support/guidelines/#the-bad-stuff has this:

    Do not harass or abuse people. Do not go to their websites, do not pick out their home addresses, phone numbers, Twitter ID, Skype ID, Facebook, any social media accounts or ways to contact them and use it to ask for support. Only use contact methods explicitly given.

    That means doing what you did is against our code of conduct, and yes, being a plugin developer means playing by those rules. If the reviewer stalked you down and harassed you, they’d get banned. We’ve done that more often than you might think.

    Also you’re conflating false with inaccurate. If someone is intentionally lying, yes, you’ve got a defamation argument. If instead they’re just wrong, you don’t (per the lawyer I actually did consult on the matter). They’re just, y’know, wrong. Which last I checked, you’re allowed to be 🙂

    Mika,

    I’d recheck your understanding. Ignorance is not a defence to defamation.

    Opinion can be though, and a previous commenter pointed outmost reviews would be construed as opinion.

    Ie “this plugin is rubbish”, is okay

    “This plugin crashed my site”, is probably okay

    “This plugin will destroy your site”, may be defamatory

    Pretty moot point, as it is not likely to get too court. But I do think the current situation is not ideal.

    I’d require the user to have posted in the support forum before leaving a two star or lower review.

    Anyway agree or disagree you guys need to be thanked as volunteers who are doing their best.

    Pete

    Moderator Jan Dembowski

    (@jdembowski)

    Brute Squad and Volunteer Moderator

    I’m going to preface this with the following: this is my opinion only. This is a feedback section for wordpress.org and this is my reply as a user of the code and these forums.

    This is not the position of the Support Team and I’m not on the plugins team. This is the opinion of someone who looks at the reviews and uses their judgement about those reviews almost everyday.

    It’s nice to get that out of the way.

    I’d recheck your understanding. Ignorance is not a defence to defamation.

    tl;dr You’re incorrect but IANAL. You’re not one either and I confident that the other legal advice above is flat out wrong. Cherry picking links and positions isn’t what legal counsel does. They work with the applicable law and that’s why any legal advice outside of a professional is mostly worthless.

    This isn’t my being deep and I’m just repeating what has been said before. When in doubt seek professional legal counsel. That’s the only legal advice on the Internet that has any value.

    Not surprisingly, some of us also have a professional background and experience too. Not everyone will wilt at false claims of “slander”.

    Serious question to anyone reading this topic: what do you think this site is for? Hint: it’s not just for plugin authors.

    It’s for WordPress users and that includes authors, developers coders and even support professionals.

    The whole idea of “Don’t post a review, except one that the author’s approve of. Or face the consequences of the following from authors” is repulsive to feedback from the community.

    Here’s some examples of reprisals from a bad review.

    • Name calling from the author. That’s prohibited here, see above.
    • Followed off site and harassed, threatened with libel, insulted and face retaliatory reviews. Also prohibited here.
    • Threats of legal action. I’m trying to not phrase it this way, but are you kidding me?

    *Reads list reprisals*

    All of that is just plain nonsense, that’s beyond the pale.

    Anyone author who thinks that this open source project is their marketplace is making a mistake. Any author who does this abuse should get waved off as they are about to crash. If they continue that abuse then their plugins should be removed and there account should be banned.

    I take some exception to these statements.

    Ie “this plugin is rubbish”, is okay

    “This plugin crashed my site”, is probably okay

    “This plugin will destroy your site”, may be defamatory

    All of those statements are okay.

    Reviews remain feedback and each of those statements are that. Reviews here are an opportunity for authors to engage their user base in a frank and open discussion. Some of that discussion may be fruitful, some not. It’s still all valid.

    If someone makes a statement and they feel it’s abusive, and the moderators agree then it will get dealt with. If it’s just those statements? Not abusive no matter how often it’s said.

    I’d require the user to have posted in the support forum before leaving a two star or lower review.

    Why would conditions other than “I tried the theme or plugin” be required for feedback? To deal with poor reviews? What are the consequences of a poor review for free open source software?

    This is not a marketplace. If you are concerned with how users feedback here will effect your sales then you’re in the wrong place.

    It’s been said before that an author’s reply is worth more than any bad review and that remains true.

    Don’t put barriers in front of feedback. If you want to make suggestions to the reviewers, please do. Perhaps an update to the review form? Not check boxes, do not pre-populate the review form, but actually positive text to encourage people to leave good reviews.

    Something like this before the text entry box.

    Before you submit your review please consider the following:

    • What did you like about the plugin or theme?
    • What did you dislike about the plugin or theme?
    • If you had a problem did you submit a support topic?
    • What would you suggest to improve this plugin or theme?

    Suggestions to reviewers are better than conditions or hard requirements. The goal for the reviews is to get that feedback.

    The highest reviewed plugins and themes here all have the same trick. The author asks the user in a non-obtrusive fashion for the user to leave a review. That’s it. They just ask and people leave good reviews.

    What do you think about updating the review form text?

    Moderator Ipstenu (Mika Epstein)

    (@ipstenu)

    🏳️‍🌈 Halfelf Rogue & Plugin Review Team Rep

    I’d recheck your understanding. Ignorance is not a defence to defamation.

    It’s not, you have to actually prove malice. And really all we proved was someone was ignorant and uneducated about the full situation.

    There was actually an NY times case about this recently: https://hotair.com/archives/2017/08/10/ny-times-editorial-writer-will-proclaim-profound-ignorance-response-palin-lawsuit/

    I found it pretty cool. 🙂 but totally off topic.

    On topic is this: Attacking humans makes humans attack back. And the ensuing fight nearly always ends with harmed reputations, not because of the initial review, but because the participants engaged in a fight in a public forum.

    I get getting mad. I feel it too. I’m just saying lashing out at your customers in public, cyber stalking them to threaten their jobs, and harassing them? Noooot a good way to make your point.

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