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 to take a page from Yelp or Facebook’s playbook and required some merit and validation…

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by LittleBizzy.
    • This topic was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by LittleBizzy.

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

Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 33 total)
  • This thread is especially interesting after today’s Post Status podcast interview with Matt Mullenweg, who acknowledged that many in the WordPress community feel unwelcome to get involved on or share suggestions.

    He encouraged “strong opinions, loosely held” which seems appropriate here.

    This thread illustrates many of the current issues with

    • Mods harshly shooting down user suggestions
    • Mods unable to agree with each other on the rules
    • Mods treating contributors with disdain and ridicule
    • Mods conflating policy with personal opinions
    • Mods making permanent decisions single-handedly
    • Mods grossly misunderstanding U.S. defamation law
    • etc, etc

    If this were any other web forum, it wouldn’t really matter. But as the gatekeeper of the most popular CMS in the world, I think we can all do better. As WordPress continues to grow, the neutrality and ethics that are embraced (or shunned) by the team will become increasingly indicative.

    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.

    I sincerely appreciate Otto publicly supporting private businesses in fighting defamation, and clarifying some positions here. If some of these specifics could be updated in site-wide TOS, it would be fantastic.

    If the reviewer stalked you down and harassed you, they’d get banned.

    Except that’s exactly what they did, and they weren’t banned. After reporting it, my posts were deleted, and their extortionary review remains. Then I was accused of bringing up matters that happened off, which “isn’t allowed.” I’m not sure how else to explain how circular this bizarre logic is. Either nothing that happens off the site matters, or it all does. Legally speaking nothing off concerns the staff here, so this is something of a fallacy policy.

    In any case, I can promise that anyone that defames me, my staff, or my company using can expect us to respond, perhaps even legally. And again, Otto just supported this, so yet another mix-up among staff seems. Of course, it wouldn’t get to that point if emphasized accurate reviews in the first place, and deleted any reviews that didn’t have merit. mods simultaneously believe these “users” are “customers” but at the same time, tells plugin authors this isn’t a “marketplace” for their business. Do you see how this can get a bit confusing for both sides?

    To clarify (again) I don’t think any author minds a negative review that is just someone being opinionated. What we care about is defamation, esp. since these reviews are indexed into Google alongside our company name.

    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?

    Yep, 100x better than what’s there now, anyway! 🙂

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

    Unfortunately this isn’t accurate. Defamation against a public figure (such as a celebrity or politician) has a higher bar to be actionable, but against a private citizen or business is quite different.

    “Actual malice is based on what the defendant was actually thinking at the time he published the defamatory statement. In this way, public-figure defamation cases differ from private-figure defamation cases. Private individuals only have to show negligence, or that a reasonable person would have researched the statement before publishing it. Public figures, however, must show not what a “reasonable person” would have done, but what this defendant actually did.”

    So back to my original claim the past few months, yes, is in fact enabling defamation with their current laissez-faire approach to reviews. And even if it were innocent “ignorance”, why are factually inaccurate reviews of OSS software something that is being so passionately defended? Cheers ~

    P.S. in the meanwhile, we’ve added annoying nag notices to all our plugins, and now the shallow 5-star reviews are pouring in… success, I guess?…

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    Forum Moderator and Brute Squad

    This is all very interesting, but the “seek professional advice for legal matters” still stands. I’m going to ignore the legal parts you’ve posted because I remain unconvinced that you know what you’re talking about for legal matters. No matter how many links or times you repeat that. That’s not something anyone needs to convince people here about.

    This topic is about improving the reviews here.

    I’m also going to skip the parts where you “defame” (you didn’t and I’m not taking that part seriously either) the moderators here. Don’t worry, my legal ideas are just as valid as yours. Some people seem to think disagreement is hostility and that’s not the case.

    I’m going to just leave this reply for that: If any user is abusive (and yes, that’s for the moderators to determine and yes, that’s done as a group) then that user will be dealt with.

    If any author performs the abuse I’ve outlined above then as Otto already wrote, that will get dealt with too. You can ascribe any negativity to that if you like but that’s the role of moderators and admins on any site.

    You can cherry pick all the moderators replies till the end of time to try and make your case selectively, you can rule/guideline/policy game all you like but the cautioning about abusive behavior will stand.

    Moving on to the useful parts of your reply:

    Yep, 100x better than what’s there now, anyway! 🙂

    Great! Now we’re talking. That wasn’t my idea, another user on Slack who has been following the reviews too came up with it. I’ll ping that person about it and see if a meta ticket was submitted.

    P.S. in the meanwhile, we’ve added annoying nag notices to all our plugins, and now the shallow 5-star reviews are pouring in… success, I guess?…

    In the great word salad left already by me, you may have missed this part. I’ll <strong> the important part so it’s clearer.

    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.

    The CSS here for quotes changes all the time so it may have been missed. The “in a non-obtrusive fashion” is the important part. When plugins nag users and it can’t be turned off then the author gets reviews. They get an onslaught of 1 star reviews.

    People do not like being nagged and that shows up.

    There are plugins here (and I’m not listing them) that just ask. The ask is dismissible and you don’t get asked again. Those plugins have so many 5 star reviews that the negative ones don’t last. They literally have so much good feedback that it almost not useful but it’s feedback and it’s good.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Jan Dembowski. Reason: Rotten grammar


    I studied and worked in a legal related field.

    You are quite wrong if you think that:

    “This plugin will destroy your site” is always okay. If this statement is untrue then it is likely defamatory. The only defence is likely that the statement is an opinion. See link below:


    1. Malice only applies to public figures

    2. Ignorance does not preclude malice

    Mika, Jan,

    The broader issue is that defamatory things are being posted, sometimes maliciously. Obviously it is unlikely to go to court and you guys can’t practically police it. But the current review system needs looking at.


    Links here:



    But plenty more of required.

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    Forum Moderator and Brute Squad

    So… putting aside the armchair, cherry picked by non-legal professionals, selectively linked to prove a point on the Internet that won’t get agreement or even about the topic here:

    Got any advice for improving the reviews?

    IANAL remains a thing. You’re not one either. Can we please talk about what can be done in the forums? You will not get the moderation of reviews that you seek. That’s not going to happen and again, that disagreement isn’t hostile.

    What can be done with the reviews? Mandatory conditions won’t fix them and IMHO they don’t actually need fixing. But improvements are always welcome. How can the reviews be improved here?

    I’m seriously asking. There’s a whole pair of groups about the community and marketing.

    Improvement is a real deal here, have any ideas about that to discuss?


    Also more broadly

    I think the plugin review team do a great job and need more kudos. But that ain’t the issue.

    And littlebizzys behaviour ain’t the issue either.

    The issue here is the current plugin rating process. I’m sure if other plugin authors were surveyed they would agree there is a problem.

    Legally there is also a problem (whether that would ever be tested is questionable). But some reviews are defamatory (happy to provide more evidence).

    I don’t think being dismissive is the answer.


    I’d require someone to post a support question for 48 hours before posting a 1 or 2 star review.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by shawfactor.

    I’d also balance that out by giving an easy way/encouraging those that have asked for support a way of rating the plugin at the end of the support process.

    Which forum should i post this suggestion on? happy too.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by shawfactor.
    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    Forum Moderator and Brute Squad

    Disagreement isn’t dismissive. You already know that. If someone seeks blind agreement with anyone then they’re in for a rude awakening when they interact with people. I don’t expect that either.

    I’d require someone to post a support question for 48 hours before posting a 1 or 2 star review.

    Putting aside the technical difficulties with that, that would be a barrier to feedback. What if someone left a 5 star review and then changed it later on? Would that 48 hour waiting time kick in?

    People can edit their reviews forever here even after the review is closed.

    Also what does that 48 hours accomplish for the user? Reviews aren’t for plugin authors (though feedback is good) it’s for the community.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 2 months ago by Jan Dembowski. Reason: Rotten grammar too
    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    Forum Moderator and Brute Squad

    Which forum should i post this suggestion on? happy too.

    *Stands at desk and yells NOW WE’RE TALKING!*

    Morning coffee. 😉

    You can submit tickets to meta via… looks this URL.

    Like this sub-forum, don’t be surprised or offended if it doesn’t get implemented. Many ideas may be submitted but not all of them are acted upon.

    I’ll raise it on meta

    Can’t comment on the technical problems with implementation.

    Yes it would a barrier on (bad) feedback, and that is a good thing. Bad feedback should be justified at the moment plenty is not.

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    Forum Moderator and Brute Squad

    Bad feedback really is subjective. Some of the best outcomes have come from plugin authors taking on that bad review in the best way possible.

    *Digs out link*

    Give this a look if you are not already familiar with it.

    The Modern Tribe team are the gold star leader for converting bad reviews into a great feedback tool. When they gave that presentation (I wasn’t there) I nearly jumped for joy. I’ve been admiring their restraint and professionalism in the reviews for years.

    It’s not easy what they do. Getting a bad review is like being told your kid is [ insert negative insult HERE ] and I do get that. Reviews do not need to have knives drawn or a duel at dawn. That’s not the purpose of reviews here.

    Some is subjective but some is completely unjustified and objectively wrong, and a subset of that is defamatory.

    Point is you can behave perfectly and it still happens. I’m not sure it can be eliminated entirely but it could be reduced with some tweaking of the system.

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    Forum Moderator and Brute Squad

    Sure and conversation is good. But step back and look at your suggestion.

    I’d require someone to post a support question for 48 hours before posting a 1 or 2 star review.

    Why no qualifier for reviews that are 3 star or more?

    You’re also a plugin author. Do you believe that reviews should be based solely on how you see them? If you don’t approve, put up a barrier?

    I’m not accusing you of anything BTW and I know you don’t have any ill will. 😉 But you see how it can look and the goal remains to get feedback, be it 1 star or 5.

    And in case it comes up, I don’t think putting a qualifier on 3 to 5 star reviews too is a good idea.

    Well obviously a 1 or 2 star review indicates the plugin does not work as advertised.

    But if it doesn’t the surely the user should have bothered asking for support first.

    I estimate 70% of 1-2 star reviews say “doesn’t work” or similar. My estimate is 90% of those fall into these categories.
    1. User has not understood the documentation
    2. User has a valid bug.
    3. The problem actually comes from another plugin

    In all cases the user posting the rating and the general community would be better served by the user posting on the help forum first.

Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 33 total)
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