DEV Community

Cover image for How I Deal With Bad User Feedback

How I Deal With Bad User Feedback

ice_lenor profile image Elena Originally published at ・3 min read

This post was originally published in my blog

We all know this feeling. You spend your precious time to develop an awesome project, polish it to perfection, and carefully roll it out for your users.

And then they tell you:

★☆☆☆☆ BOO! Worst app EVER! Do NoT UsE!!!11

My WordCloud app has 1.7M users and 5K reviews on Google Play. The average review score is 4.5★. This means that many users love the app, but some don't.

I used to dread bad reviews! First ones were a nightmare. I was scared to read all reviews in fear that there is a negative one. Upon seeing one, I used to spend days feeling miserable and unfairly judged.

But I couldn't feel miserable forever. So after some time developed these rules and I started to follow them.

Constructive bad reviews

When the review is constructive, I usually reply.

If they couldn't understand how to use a particular feature, I write an instruction for them.

It also helps other users who might experience the same problem. This is valuable feedback — maybe I should reconsider the feature or its UI if it is unclear for many people.

If they expected a feature that's not present, I explain it and promise to consider it in the future.

This doesn't mean I'll add the said feature. Perhaps, it doesn't fit my product vision, or maybe there are technical constraints. So I don't promise to implement — I just promise to consider. Still, this is valuable feedback, and sometimes these ideas are really good — even though they make me sad for a little while.

Destructive reviews

If the review is like "worst app ever!!111", I don't reply. There is no point in replying. I learned to grow thick skin against these types of reviews. Some people just want to be negative on the internet. It doesn't say anything about you, your product, or the quality of it. Some percentage of reviews will be like that anyways, for any app, however great it is.

Reviews complaining about how stuff isn't free

Sometimes the only complaint is that some features in the app are paid.

Or like this:

To such reviews, I usually don't reply. I can't help the user in any way. This just means my product is not for them.

I only posted an answer once, and here it is:

Positive reviews

It warms my heart when people find my work useful!

To such reviews on Google Play, I usually reply "thank you" or nothing at all, since there are sometimes too many reviews — but I really do appreciate them.


I reply to all emails though. An email means that a person took time to message me personally, and I appreciate that.

I even got a physical present from a happy user once! That made me sooo happy!..

"This is not about my app" reviews

And now, a funny story. I sometimes get bad reviews that are about OTHER apps :).

There are a bunch of "impostor" apps that mimic mine. They have the same name and a similar UI, but are filled with lots of annoying ads and often don't work. So people download them, try to use, fail, get angry, and type the reviews for my app because it's on top in the Google Play when you search for "Word Cloud".

I even got a couple of emails from people using these impostor apps on OTHER PLATFORMS — such as iOS, while my app is Android-only. (So far.)

There is nothing I can do against these reviews, or these apps for that matter — Google and Apple don't help much in fighting them. I find consolation in the thought that my app is so great it's worth copying :).

Discussion (13)

lssweatherhead profile image
Laura Weatherhead

This post made me smile! 😊 Thank you for your insights, I think your advice can apply to any kind of feedback in life OR the internet haha!

(In fact I shall try to remember it next time someone tailgates or cuts me up at a roundabout... some people just want to watch the world burn.)

ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Thank you Laura!

I don't know if it 100% applies in real life though. If there is no danger, I think it's perfectly okay to ignore a rude person - this will make your day better without causing you any problems.
But if there is danger or risk, I wouldn't be the best person to give advice on that. Take care!:)

lssweatherhead profile image
Laura Weatherhead

No I don't know - perhaps not ignore a person completely per se, but I think there's certainly an argument to pick and choose what you listen to with other people. I think you made a good point:

Some people just want to be negative

In this case there is nothing to take away from them - and if criticism is coming from a negative place that isn't constructive, then it says a lot more about what they need to work on rather than what you need to :)

lefebvre profile image
Paul Lefebvre

I read once: "Unsolicited feedback is always for the sender. Ignore it."

If the feedback is just negative complaining I try to ignore that part. But sometimes, occasionally, there is a nugget of information I can use to make something better. I avoid responding to negative feedback as the sender is just looking for attention. Even if I improve something based on their feedback, they don't need to know that unless they start behaving more politely.

ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Wise approach, Paul. I do think the world would be better if people were just a bit more polite

codechimp profile image
Andrew Jackson

I've learnt to do exactly the same, if you start dwelling on the negative you'll lose all motivation.

The other one I get often is complaining about the fact I restrict my app to only allow a few functions until you pay a (small) fee, it's amazing how many people consider this worthy of a 1 star. If you like it enough to hit the limit then $2 isn't the end of the world.

ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

Oh, don't even get me started on that! Some people just seem to think everyone should work for them for free.

This is what I responded once:

codechimp profile image
Andrew Jackson

That is exactly what I want to say though I never rise to it. I treat them the same as the nonconstructive 1 star reviews and just ignore them.

damirtomic profile image
DamirTomic • Edited

I just downloaded your app. It's pretty interesting.

But your description isn't concise. I looked at the Google Play images, thought to myself "I guess this is an app for generating images?" and when I checked the description, I found a long explanation that doesn't explain that much. It needs more impact.

Another thing. You don't have a dedicated back button in the Shape submenu. When you click Words or Color, you can go back to the "main menu" by pressing the left arrow in the top left corner. But when you enter shapes view, there is no dedicated back button in your UI.

Similar thing when you press Other. Maybe you could add a "Back to main" button left of rotate/boarder/image buttons which switches back to words/color/shape/other menu.

Obviously, you could press the Android back button, but I find that some people don't press it because if they press it too many times the app will close so they are "afraid" of it.

ice_lenor profile image
Elena Author

I translate them and then decide whether to reply or not :)

If I can't translate them, I usually skip them.

cotcotcoder profile image
Forem Open with the Forem app