Chinese students bomb iOS app with one-star reviews; here's why
When it comes to using mobile technology, kids understand more than you think. And when it comes to finding a way to get out of school work, well you know that this is where they shine. So mix the two together and you have an interesting story that you will probably find amusing. In China, schools are closed because of the coronavirus and students have been attending virtual classes through an app called DingTalk.
Kids try to game the system to escape virtual classes in China
The app is owned by Chinese monolith Alibaba and a rumor soon reached the kids stating that apps with just one star would get the ax from the App Store. The students figured that if this happened, they no longer would be forced to view the lessons being streamed. So the students did what any group of kids would do in the same situation. According to the London Review of Books (via The Verge), they got together and "review-bombed" the app. And we are talking about large numbers here; 50 million students and 600,000 teachers are using the app in China to live stream lessons. On February 11th, for example, the app was the recipient of 15,000 one-star reviews and only 2,000 five-star reviews.
DingTalk's ratings bounce back after kids flood the listing with one-star reviews. image credit App Annie
As TechNode reports, DingTalk started to fight back as its rating in the App Store dropped perilously close to one-star. A video created by the app's developers showed cartoon characters singing in Chinese begging for better reviews. Translated to English, the lyrics included comments like "I know guys, you were not expecting such a productive holiday," and "Please don’t give me any more one-star ratings. I was chosen for this job and there is not much I can do about it." The video, which can be viewed here, has been viewed nearly 17 million times.
In response to the video, some of the students joked that they were willing to give DingTalk a five-star rating but in five different installments. But a funny thing started to happen on February 17th. Older users began flooding the App Store with five-star reviews. One user wrote, "Students don’t like online classes will turn into adults who don’t want to work. But the reality is they will need to earn money for their family. Students need to study for their future’s sake." Teachers and parents also spoke highly about the app. One educator wrote, "It’s an effective teaching tool although it stutters from time to time when I use my tablet. It’s been working fine after switching to my smartphone." A parent reviewed DingTalk by stating, "It’s actually useful. Our child likes to watch live streams and the teacher knows how to keep the class interesting and upbeat. Also, it allows parents to interact with the school and teachers. It brings everyone closer."
As of this afternoon, DingTalk had a rating of 2.2 stars in the App Store and the student coup had been defeated. Now admittedly, the kids were bright enough to organize such a revolt. But the bottom line is that even if the rumor was true (which it wasn't) and the app had been removed from the App Store, it still would have remained on all of the devices that had previously installed it. So in the end, the student's actions were for naught. And DingTalk came out of the whole affair praised for the way it handled this challenge. Chen Hang, CEO of DingTalk, said afterward, "It's in kids' nature to love to play. If I were in their shoes and had to take online lessons every day, I would probably give a one-star review too."
The app, which is free to install, has just received an update that allows students to mirror a live stream to a larger-screened television which might make viewing lessons a bit easier to take.