PSA: Yep, Android Market User Reviews Are Definitely Mixed Up


Recently, I’ve been noticing that some of the most popular apps in the Android market are showing reviews from months ago as being the “latest”, but they aren’t. Take a look at an application in the Android market that gets at least one or more review per day – something isn’t right. The first review on Twitter for Android is from May 2011. The third is from November 2010. But more recent ones do exist, they’re just buried beneath these old reviews.

The same may be happening on some users’ phones, too. While this issue is quite harmless, it makes market reviews useless. Users often look to the first dozen or so reviews to see how an app is shaping up after a recent update. If you have months-old reviews sitting atop the chain, users might see a negative review about an issue that has already been fixed. This is frustrating for both users and developers.

We’re going to submit this report to Google so they can get it straightened out, but just be sure to check the dates of the reviews you’re reading before you decide not to download an application.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. that has been happening for weeks now

  2. And the Market App itself does NOT give me option to update my apps when it says there are updates available

    1. weird, I have that option in the new market.

  3. I talked to an Android Market product manager about it. It has been this way on the web based market for a couple of weeks. It is this way in the new market app too. The old market should still show them chronologically.

    Here is what the Googler had to say:

    We’re continually improving the way we present information to users. Sorting comments by date has obvious limitations and at times can be filled with spam. So we’re experimenting with surfacing the most useful comments (as decided by up/down voting of users themselves).

    Users will notice the effects of upvoting/downvoting comments, and with a bit of time, the most thoughtful/interesting reviews will bubble up.

    1. The problem I have with it is that if people can’t see new comments at all, they will never be upvoted, so the comments will be permanently stale.

    2. Some of the reviews showing for my app, Custom Launcher Icons, are from a year ago. Even good reviews from then are irrelevant because I completely rewrote the app in March. Anything that applied before then doesn’t apply to versions 4+.

  4. Don’t think this is a bug. Reviews are also useless if the top reviews are filled with brainless spam from users who don’t understand anything and the few worthwhile reviews are buried deep below only hours after posting.

    1. I think some of that brainless spam is actually badly worded suggestions for things that developers can resolve pretty quickly.

      I would prefer if they let me view the breakdown by rating like or so I can look at the bad reviews and decide if the people that didn’t like it didn’t get it or not.

      “March 7, 2011 BEWARE finally managed to update but now Locks Up after 20 seconds of play. Unplayable on Galaxy Tab”

      If I have a Galaxy Tab, I’m not going to get the game, but it’s been 4 months they’ve probably fixed that issue. If I have it and it works, I’m probably going to play it, not go back to the market page to thumbs down the review.

  5. It’s still bad though. Time actually matters with reviews since they apps are updated on a daily/weekly basis. The way people review things has evolved to also notify developers of pressing issues. I don’t think up voting and down voting other peoples reviews is the right answer. Old reviews are usually wrong.

    Anyone know where I can complain?

    1. Complain? How do you know that the new valuation function doesn’t degrade review value over time so that new reviews are naturally preferred. I almost guarantee that time-date/relevance is a factor.

      1. Not so far anyway… Like I said below, some of my ‘top reviews’ are a year old. Even though I get 5-10 new reviews per week. Over the last year, I’ve had 3000 reviews, and old irrelevant ones are ‘bubbling up.’

      2. Obviously I don’t but I saw year+ old reviews yesterday and I didn’t even read them because I read changelogs when I get updates and I see if they’ve fixed my problems.

        I think it does developers a disservice to say “oh give us some time to figure it out”, when people are going to say “1* you didn’t include ______”. Or if I see a 2 year old review thats “4* would be perfect if you added (x feature which was added 3 months ago”

        It also a waste of my time, because I’m not going to trust an old review. Okay so sure I won’t up-rank it, but I’m not going to down-rank it either. I want it to get out of my face so i can find some relevant reviews.

        1. Just the usual doing random stuff cluelessness I have come to expect in the Android market. As usual they didn’t bother to notify anyone. I has been happening in the web and tablet market for a while and apparently the new phone market does it too.

  6. I hate: *_____ – NOVA 2 lags of my htc hero .

  7. Quentyn, did you get any response from Google concerning your report? If you did, would you mind sharing it?

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