Last week, Google rolled out a big update for developers in the Play Store: certain developers can now respond to individual user reviews. Right now, only developers with the “Top Developer” badge will be able to make use of this new feature, but Google says it hopes to roll this out to other developers soon.
However, this got me thinking: is this really a good thing, or could this be a recipe for disaster?
Think about it: as most tech enthusiasts quickly come to find out, almost all tech sites, forums, and blogs are places where lots of trolls like to hang out. The Google Play Store is no different, with lots of trashing, bad-mouthing, and generally unfair reviews left by people who don’t even take the time to figure out what the purpose of an app is. So I can see value in developers being able to defend themselves now, but doesn’t this have the potential to turn into a shouting match between mean-spirited trolls and defensive developers? Now that developers can busy themselves by responding to potentially hundreds of negative comments, couldn’t this take away from the time that the developer otherwise would have spent making improvements to existing apps, or even releasing brand new apps?
As an editor for Pocketables, I find it really hard to bite my tongue when I see trolls bad-mouthing other readers, or even other editors on this site. So I can’t even imagine what an app developer must feel after spending countless hours working on an app, only to read uncouth comments left by people who have no idea what they are talking about.
In other words, I don’t want developers to worry about responding to mean people; I want them to spend their time developing great apps. Let other people – smarter people – respond to those trolls. It happens in the Play Store, and it usually happens on tech sites like Pocketables (if you wait long enough): other people step up and defend those who are being attacked.
I guess that, ultimately, this is a good thing, as long as developers don’t allow themselves to get too caught up with this. At the very least, they can thank those who take the time to say something nice. But what do you think?