Handling Bad Reviews

In general, the Plugin Review team is not the go-to recourse for bad reviews.  Instead, we have a totally brilliant forum support team! There’s some overlap of jurisdiction of course, and some of us are on both teams, but the point here is you should go to the right group to get the right help.

I’m also going to put this out there. You will get a bad review. Most of the time, it will not be deleted. So before you get any further in this post, know that the way you chose to respond, in public, to a 1-star review of your plugin is your own choice.

Our goal with the WordPress.org repository is to have a good place for users to get plugins that fulfill their needs. The reviews are an extension of that, and should viewed as a way for users to educate other users on their experiences. Also a review is about an experience. If someone’s experience with your product is poor, that doesn’t make their review invalid. And to go back to that previous statement, the way you react to those poor experiences is going to impact your reputation, and that of your plugin, a heck of a lot more than that review.

Now, that said, we have a few ‘common’ types of problems with reviews. This post is going to help you handle them and explain when you should call for help, as well as from whom. Later on we’ll be adding it to our documentation, once it’s refined as best we can make it. Please remember, we do not want to make a ‘rule’ for everything. That just invites people to play rules-lawyers and tip over everyone’s cornflakes.

Here’s how you do it and when and why.

First off… How to add a tag!

99.999999% of the time, you’re going to be adding ‘tags’ to posts. This is so easy, you may kick yourself for missing it. On a post, look on the right hand side, under About this Topic and you’ll see a section for Tags

Tags are listed on the right hand side of a post

This is a free-form field where you can add any tag you want. Anyone can add any tag. The forum moderators have an easy way to know who added what, though, so keep in mind we do monitor that. If you want to add a tag to a post and reply, add the tag, press the Add button, and THEN come back to reply. It works better.

Tag abuse (that is calling moderators needlessly) is not okay. Be smart. Be thoughtful. Remember that every last member of the forum and plugin teams is a volunteer. We’re not being paid by Automattic to do this.

The spam review

This is easy. Don’t reply, just add the tag modlook to the post and walk away. The forum team will delete it. If you think it may not be obvious spam, add the tag spam as well.

The sockpuppet review

When a person (or group of persons) makes multiple accounts with the sole intention of leaving reviews on their own plugins (or leaving poor reviews on their competitors), this is called being a Sock Puppet.

This behavior is expressly NOT welcome on the WordPress Forums as it is spamming. But it comes in two flavors:

  1. Someone 5-star spamming their own plugin
  2. Someone 1-star spamming their competition

Both are bad behavior. Both will get plugins removed from the repository and a stern email from us. If you’re doing this, stop right away. Contact your team and tell them ‘Don’t do this!’ Also keep in mind, asking everyone in your company to 5-star review your own plugins is gauche. I mean, really. You’re stacking the deck on purpose and that’s not beneficial to anyone.

Again, do not reply! Add the tag modlook AND sockpuppet to the post and walk away.

The attack/troll review

These are the worst. When someone attacks you and the review seems like all it exists for is to make you feel terrible, you’re going to have to take a deep breath and walk away. An attack is a troll, regardless of how the original poster (OP) feels, they’ve basically been a troll. They’re writing something they know will make you mad and hurt and angry, and they’re doing it on purpose. That’s a troll. And you shouldn’t feed the trolls. You won’t win, and you’ll just make yourself look bad.

Again, do not reply! Add the tag modlook to the post and walk away. These are usually pretty self evident after all.

The review that should have been a support post

This includes the sub-genre “People who submit 1-star reviews in order to emotionally blackmail you for support.”

We all get them.

  1. Reply with a link to the support section of your plugin (or directions on how to get support, or even a note that you don’t provide free support) and remind them that next time, they should ask for help before reviewing.
  2. See if you can fix the problem, but give it no more or less priority than you would any other support request.
  3. If you can solve it, ask them to modify their review. If they go back to https://wordpress.org/support/view/plugin-reviews/PLUGINNAME and scroll to the bottom, they can edit their reviews!

You’ll notice we’re not telling you to tag the post? Right now we can’t move a review into the support forums and vice versa, so there’s really no point. The forum moderators won’t do anything about it except say “Well, that does suck.” If we could move them, we would, but right now we technically don’t have that ability.

The review about your premium/pro version

If you upsell your plugin’s pro version in the free one, and someone leaves a bad review because the pro version they bought, on the basis of your free one, is bad, congratulations. The review stays. You opened the door with your upsell, encouraging them to do this, and that experience reflects on your plugin as a whole.

If you do not upsell, and there’s no direct link between the free and pro version, or the plugin having the issue is a premium only add-on, tag it modlook and someone will come take a look.

The review about someone else’s plugin

This one can be fixed! Reply and let them know it’s not your plugin, it’s the other one, and then tag it modlook and then use the tag wrongplugin (all one word) to let the mods know what’s going on.

But I really need a plugin moderator!

Okay. So you think you’re an exception? Use the tag pluginmod and a plugin admin will come take a look. Be prepared, though, as we generally will perform a full review on your plugin and any and all guideline violations will result in your plugin being removed until you fix them. Including using too many tags.

#guidelines, #support