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Dear Google: The "Want Quick Suggestions" feature of the Google Play Store is decimating the hard-earned ratings of developers because its users are not aware that they are actually rating apps.  Please correct or remove this feature.

While a user may think that this rating box is informing the Play Store only of their preference to see similar apps, it is in fact submitting an actual review of the app that affects its overall rating score.  Users are giving 1-star ratings to their favorite apps because they are happy with them and are not looking for a replacement.

The ratings of SystemPanel, WebSharing, FX, and the FX root add-on are superimposed in the adjacent plot.   Each app's rating has fallen sharply at an identical rate since this feature was introduced in December 2013.  The ratings of these apps were built over four years of hard work, maintenance, and support, and that has now been marginalized by the "Want Quick Suggestions" feature.  I've seen the total number one-star ratings double in the past three months compared to the last four years.  The ratings of competing apps are clearly suffering the same fate.

Older apps, including my own, are actually least affected: they have a large pool of reviews from before this change keeping overall ratings reasonably high.  New apps have to contend with this inaccurate rating system from day one, and are thus placed at an extreme disadvantage.

Google, please do one of the following:

* Remove this feature.

* Correctly and thoroughly explain to users what this feature actually does.

* Change this feature so that it behaves according to the current description (i.e., uses the ratings only for purposes of showing a user more of fewer similar applications to the one rated).

Until this issue is corrected, you're introducing an enormous amount of noise to the Play Store rating system, destroying years of hard work, and preventing new developers from competing with established applications on a level playing field.

AndroidPolice has a more detailed review of this issue, which was first spotted weeks after its introduction.  It's now been three months.  Their write-up is here:

Please fix this.
Alejandro Matos's profile photoTyler F's profile photoJoshua Lee's profile photoRoberto Fauri's profile photo
Totally agree. It's a horrible feature in it's current form and stands to make or break the success of a lot of apps - especially new apps. 

There is already enough issues with iditiots posting 1 star ratings with no explanation. We don't need an easier way for those idiots to do it. 

+Google Play +Google Australia +Google 

Perhaps +Vic Gundotra might be able to pass this feedback along to the appropriate person? I'm not sure who that person would be exactly or if they are even on G+. It's something that certainly needs some attention.
There might be other forces at work here too.  Currently your ratings are based on people motivated enough to go and rate themselves, hence tends to be largely 5 or 1 start ratings.  maybe now that Google is prompting more people who don't naturally review to do so that are getting a more balanced spread of reviews?  Further, if this is happening equally across all apps, is it really a problem?  

Absolutely agree we need to hear more though, this is clear a huge shift
+Josh Steiner  It is a problem because the apps did not get a clean slate when this feature was introduced. So older apps with thousands of ratings started on a much higher stand.
+Tod Liebeck Great post, thanks. One thing I noticed is that whenever my apps get some kind of visibility (e.g., a blog post), my average goes up because people are genuinely rating it using the original system. Then on the next day I always get more empty 1-star ratings because that's when Google starts showing these users my app as a possibility for recommendation. Have you noticed the same thing? It happens every time so I learned to expect it already.
At this point, we can assume Google knows perfectly the side effects of that horrible feature and will not correct it. I would even say this was intended all along.

Random 1-star reviews without any comment are so cool. As a developer you don't even know why they are there.

It seems that at some point, anything you do to improve an app will not improve ratings anymore as it is anihilated by these phantom 1-stars.

It is true that this "feature" affects all apps at different dropping rate, and that old apps with huge number of ratings are likely to drop the slower.

I was hugely annoyed and angry by this situation in December. Now I barely care about it anymore... Now when I see a surge of these noname 1-stars, I lol nervously.
Agreed. The rating for my app was a valuable indicator for user satisfaction. Now it's full of noise. Now I use commented ratings because it show the users intent to rate my app not an intent to get a recommendation.

I contacted Google but got a dismissive response.

I wish they would add bug report feature instead so that bugs are separated from ratings and I can contact the user for more information. How many times have I got "It's not downloading" or "The screen is blank" and I cannot contact the use to fix the isolate problem.
Absolutelly agree. I an another app developer and hate this. Another Google's fail.

Soy desarrollador y esto me afecto y me afecta... y no sabia porque. Gracias por el articulo. Respecto a Google mejor se dejaba de historias y obligaba a que cada comentario tuviera una longitud minima. Para q solo hubiera feedback y no comertarios como porqueria o mola. Lo que necesita el desarrollador para mejorar la app es que el usuario deliga que no le gusta.
+Ricardo Lage, same to me! After a promotion in partnership with App of the Day, the first day resulted in 40k of downloads and my average went up. In the next day, the nightmare started...
"Want quick suggestions" is a poor and unuseful widget. Developers need feedbacks, damn! At least Google could require from user a justification for the rate.
Guys, did you notice this seems to have been reverted finally .. around April 2015? Ratings went back up for all apps.
and since 26.6. 2015 it is back :( Anybody sees the same pattern in GP ratings? Suddenly number of daily ratings doubled, boosting the number of bad ratings without actuall review. That is definitely result of that "Want Quick Suggestions?" crazy thing.
If the goal was to increase number of ratings, it works well, but the value of ratings as a real feedback to developer is diminished.
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