Peter Cohen’s argument is compelling: while written reviews provide important value to shoppers, the far more numerous 1- to 5-star ratings are to blame for most problems with App Store customer reviews:
I say this as someone who’s reviewed software for nigh on 20 years now — reviews of any type are entirely subjective, and whittling them down to a facile up- or down-vote or numerical rating system ultimately demeans the efforts of the developers that create these apps. If I didn’t like an app’s design, should I remove one star or just half a star? What if it crashes? Is that an instant one-star rating? How many stars do I take off for grammar or punctuation errors?
5-star rating systems have always been ineffective and dysfunctional because people have such different and inconsistent standards on what deserves each rating.
Eliminating the star ratings but leaving the written reviews would eliminate a lot of developer headaches and much of the motivation behind the annoying “Rate This App” epidemic that’s interrupting and annoying iOS customers and infecting, embarrassing, and devaluing almost all modern iOS apps.
I hope Apple’s listening. Their culture values quality, but many conditions, abuses, and dysfunctions in the App Store just keep getting worse — and that’s only going to lead to worse apps, more abandoned apps, and more customers who struggle to see a difference between the iOS and Android app ecosystems.