Awful app-review trend among Turkish users: This is why your app gets so many one star reviews!
Here are the first reviews shown when you visit Where is My Water 2 Google Play page. Believe it or not, 11 out of 15 reviews here are actually 5 STAR reviews!
So What is Going On?
Let's look what some of these users actually say:
Tülay Sahillioglu: Good, a very good game! I gave 1 star so that my comment gets seen.
Canan Evran: The game is an example of how a good game should be! Don't bother that I gave 1 star, it's because I want my comment gets seen.
İrem Şanlı: Super! I gave 1 star so that my comment is shown first but I actually liked the game.
The pattern is obvious. There is a trend among Turkish users who feel like their comment is the best comment of all time and must be seen by wider audience so they rate the games 1 star and game the system.
This is not a secret for the Turkish users. Let's look at another comment:
Kubilay Tekin: I hadn't gave 1 star just because I want my comment gets shown on top, I actually think that the game is aweful aqws.w.wew..ws
Because of the way Google selects "the most helpful comments" users who really want their comments get exposure are easily exploiting it.
This hurts the ratings of the apps(especially the good ones) so it hurts their developers, it hurts the users who are looking for the best app, it hurts the users who want to read some intelligent comments before installing the app.
The article enjoyed lot's of attention, particularly on Hacker News and r/Android. The issue was featured on Android Police too.
The discussions there contain some very informative comments and the Android Police described Google's sorting algorithm as "score that contrasts with the majority is given much better visibility" .
Some valid questions have been risen, such as if this behavior is limited to the Turkish users or how much prevalent actually is.
I don't want to bloat the post with examples(actually, translating these comments is killing me and i don't want to scount and translate more comments) but it's easy to check it by clicking this link to the Turkish store and searching for the apps you want to examine(Google Translate seems good enough to translate from Turkish). Also if somebody is indexing the comments can actually review them much more thoroughly.
If you have comments or anything to add, you can contact me through my twitter account: @mrtksn
Okay, here are few more examples. These are some of the most popular games in the Turkish store. What I did is just taking the screenshot of the first page, I didn't try to find other 1 star positive comments but you can spot many of them as you flip the comment pages.
Temple Run 2:
3 of the 1 star comments are actually positive
Clash of Clans:
2 of the 1 star comments are actually positive
Dragons of Atlantis:
4 of the 1 star comments are positive
6 of the 1 star comments are actually positive
You can spot the positive 1 star comments by looking for the words like "1 yıldız" along with "görünsün", "güzel","harika","iyi" and obviously "süper" . They all say the same thing.
The meaning of these words are:
1 Yıldız: 1 Star
As an observation, it seems like these kind of comments are most likely to be written for games, especially the free ones.
The oldest complains from the Turkish community(that I managed to find) date back to November 13, 2013 on Ekşi Sözlük, a very popular Turkish website(it's something between reddit and wikipedia - a website format originated from Turkey). Since then many comments have been added.
The issue got some attention on the Turkish websites(most of them write their own articles withouth linking back, so it's hard to track how many articles are out there) and forums, but I am especially disappointed by the article written by Hürriyet, one of the most popular newspapers in Turkey.
The article in Hürriyet has a heroic tone, smells like a "we beat the system" kind of an article. The title is "Turkish users crumpled Google's app system" and the last paragraph says "Google is desperate because they don't have a system to keep users from giving 1 star ratings. If this continues many successful apps would get low ratings and may loose money". "Low profits for developers" is a very weak argument in the society where piracy is so promenent. No explanation about how this hurts everybody, no call to stop doing it.
Other articles were mostly conserned about the "Turkish Image abroad" though thankfully most of them took the effort to emphasize how bad that kind of behaviour is.