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Problem: user has left review of iPhone app which is simply incorrect

Question: is there a way to make contact with the reviewer and a) explain how what they've said is incorrect and help them with their issue or b) challenge the review?

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Can you be more specific about what you mean by incorrect. Did they leave a review that doesn't appear to be about your application? Was it more of a spam or troll review? Or as the commenters below implied maybe pointing out a shortcoming in your app or documentation? – Bill Leeper Jan 10 '11 at 16:41
Specifically the criticism was that there was no way to delete items from a UITableView which is the principal view of the application. It is wrong because I have in fact implemented the standard "swipe to see delete button" for removal of items from the list. – Richard Jan 10 '11 at 17:05
Take the review to heart - you probably have some bad UI going on. – DexterW Jan 10 '11 at 21:01
up vote 4 down vote accepted

No, not at all. Encouraging people to contact you in the app description can reduce "the app doesn't work" reviews, but that's about it. It's unfortunate and pretty severely flawed, but there's no way to contact the reviewer and no way to challenge or respond to reviews.

Reviews from people who've used the app and indicate they've not had the problem might help, though they're sometimes regarded as developer spam by readers. It's a tough situation.

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You shouldn't be affected negatively by bad reviews. You should seek for such valuable feedback instead. The more you will be exposed, the more reviews you will get, including bad ones. And bad ones usually provide you with the information your need to improve your product.

Including incorrect reviews. This may be an indication that something is not clear in the software or in its documentation.

Reviews are an opportunity to improve your product.

Take note of the bad review, and improve your software accordingly. Encourage your user to send you feedback. Challenge them with yourself, not with your users. Your should thank the users that take their valuable time to write reviews.

Tip: To minimize bad reviews, do everything in your power to maximize good reviews, by learning from bad ones.

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+1: "While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” – Henry C. Link – Ryan Hayes Jan 10 '11 at 15:37
@Ryan: I like this one too: "Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." [Oscar Wilde] – user2567 Jan 10 '11 at 15:45
Oooh, nice one! – Ryan Hayes Jan 10 '11 at 15:47

Unfortunately no is the short answer. The best thing to do it glean as much information from the (undoubtedly terse) review as possible and try to make sure it won't happen in the future.

In my apps I added multiple places where a user can send feedback either by email or via a website. The form prompts people for various pieces of relevant information.

Result: almost no discernible change in the number of reviews or support emails. The few support mails I do get are usually completely unpopulated -- just the machine generated content.

For whatever reason, people find it easier to post a bad review to iTunes than to contact the developer. I find this depressing as there's nothing I'd like better than to be able to improve my software, but that's how it is.

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The fact that someone took the time to review your app is actually pretty important. Whether you're loved or hated, you have exposure--and that alone can mean the difference between someone picking your app and an app with no reviews or all mediocre reviews.

That said, take the review as you would any sort of criticism. Check to see if the comment holds water, and if not ignore it. If you seem to be getting the same misunderstanding, perhaps you need to look at how the app is listed to see if that could be contributing to the misunderstandings.

Other than that, no system is perfect, but negative feedback is better than no feedback at all. Try to look at it as a good thing. The worst thing that can happen (and I've seen this) is to have a comment war between you and the person posting a comment that doesn't apply.

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Exposure on a well-visited website is helpful regardless of the review, but I don't believe the same can't be said of App Store reviews. I'm much more likely to skip an app with 3 negative reviews than one with no reviews at all. Negative reviews can sink an app, in my opinion. – Matthew Frederick Jan 10 '11 at 15:34
I'll at least read the negative reviews--mainly because I know how people can game the system. If they don't seem very pertinent, and in stark contrast to the majority of the reviews I'll ignore them. – Berin Loritsch Jan 10 '11 at 17:12

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