While it’s impossible for us to tell how many of the horoscope app’s 32,000 star-only ratings are fake, Eleftheriou says Apple should have no problem with that. “When you consider refund request rates, app usage, and other associated info that only Apple has, you could imagine a totally revamped discovery system that does away with the current crude star-rating system that hasn’t seen any innovation since Bezos pioneered it 20 years ago,” he suggests.
Eleftheriou tells me that Apple has removed over 100 apps due to his reports — and if you’re wondering whether his online crusade is personal, the answer is most definitely yes. He began digging for scams after his own app FlickType, a keyboard for Apple Watch, was overtaken by scam apps that didn’t work and charged ludicrous fees, yet prospered due to fake reviews.
By the way: you know that app that John Gruber helped draw attention to in 2019, the one that reportedly charged $10 every week for wallpaper you could find free online? It’s still on the App Store. The app never got permanently removed. It currently has a 4.1 rating, despite countless negative reviews, and SensorTower estimates the app still makes its developer $10,000 a month.
There are several things that are becoming apparent to the world after 20 years of “Web 2.0.” One of those things is that the ubiquitous 5-star review system is dead on the table. Every one is being gamed to the point of unusability. I don’t even look at the review scores on Amazon or the App Store any more, as those scores are actually worse than having no score at all. Netflix got rid of their scoring system awhile ago, and I find their recommendations actually improved. The rest of the world must follow suit. The only internal review system I trust is Steam, and I wonder how long I can continue to do so.
Every time you think you can trust a rating or a ranking on the internet, remember that this is what you’re up against.
Speaking of which, maybe I should buy some Twitter followers, or some engagement on this web site…