Suspicious reviews

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#1 by maxito
2021-05-24 at 01:39
< report >What's with the "The reviewer is suspected to be engaged in covert advertisement on behalf of the developer." in 90% of the reviews and 10/10s by new accounts?
Can't the mods just delete them?Last modified on 2021-05-28 at 14:53
#2 by mutsuki
2021-05-24 at 02:35
< report >I'm more interested in if not covert advertisment is allowed.

Could all the developers just make a 10/10 glowing review of the game if they say somewhere that they are a developer?
#3 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 03:39
< report >Hey there. Developer here. Have no idea why all of those are flagged as I would never even attempt to do something as heinous as paying for fake reviews. It goes against everything I stand for as a creator. Just reached out to moderation for an explanation as I, too, would like like to know what the deal is.

I realize that I have several fans who speak very highly of my game, but I have absolutely nothing to do with any of the reviews posted here. Been using VNDB for over 10 years and have never even seen something like this before.
#4 by antherus
2021-05-28 at 04:09
< report >I'm guessing the overwhelming amount of 10's in the reviews as well as ratings are a pretty big red flag. Most VNs don't have this top-heavy a rating. The distribution of scores is all off.

Unless this is another Muv-Luv Alternative, which I doubt, there's probably a good reason it's been flagged.
#5 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 04:13
< report >It's definitely no MLA, but I really have nothing to do with the scoring. Hell I didn't even score the game myself because I thought that would be cheating.
#6 by antherus
2021-05-28 at 04:17
< report >Well, to be fair and objective, I'll check it out for myself before passing any judgment.
#7 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 04:34
< report >Please do! I'll be remaking the first several hours of the game in the near future as I didn't really have a clear vision for it when I first started and am admittedly unhappy with the beginning act. It wasn't until around several months into development that I was able to focus on it full time. It's become a much better game since then.
#8 by gvbn
2021-05-28 at 04:53
< report >
Have a VNDB account? (If not, you totally should. It's the single best archive/database for visual novels on the Internet.) If so, please consider rating the game on there! The amount of people who already have has far surpassed my expectations, given that the site focuses on primarily Japanese games, but even further increasing the rating and boosting visibility will help it stand out among players searching for new content.

"Further increasing the rating and boosting visibility" sure sounds like asking your players to post glowing reviews for advertisement purposes to me.
#9 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 05:03
< report >That's a bit of a reach. Asking players to consider rating a game to boost its visibility is far from "covert advertisement" as the site suggests.

(And for context, that was part of an extensive post on ways for players to help the game without having to donate money to it. It was in no way a solicitation for false advertisement or a call to action.)Last modified on 2021-05-28 at 05:08
#10 by styjoy
2021-05-28 at 05:09
< report >Initial discussion here. t10302.195
@7 Having a few freshly created accounts posting perfect 10/10 reviews on a not so popular game doesn’t give others much confidence in believing. I get it might not be your intention, but you can’t really blame the admins for suspecting.
#11 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 05:11
< report >@10 Yeah I completely understand the fresh accounts that were flagged and show no opposition to those reviews being removed as they were likely created for the sole purpose of writing them. But several of the accounts that are flagged are years old and active. Those ones shouldn't be marked.

Edit: I still think it's a little strange the way those warnings are worded, though. From what it looks like in that previous discussion, it's already been acknowledged that the situation wasn't something I was actively heading. All I did was encourage reviews. I don't want people thinking that I'm engaging in any unsavory practices when I haven't done anything to warrant that.Last modified on 2021-05-28 at 05:18
#12 by styjoy
2021-05-28 at 05:19
< report >It’s honestly a complicated issue. The site doesn’t prevent people from voting as they like, so they’re not against the rule. But this single instance stood out too much, therefore the attention and flagging. Try reaching out to the admins and see if you can improve the situation then.
#13 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 05:22
< report >Yeah I'm still waiting on a reply, but it's late so I doubt I'll be getting until tomorrow at the earliest. It's just a little demoralizing having those warnings there when I was so proud just months ago of how well the game was being received here. I work really hard on this and don't want people thinking I'm trying to rig the system.Last modified on 2021-05-28 at 05:23
#14 by yorhel
2021-05-28 at 06:59
< report >(I'll post here instead of replying to your mail to keep this in one place)

"Further increasing the rating and boosting visibility" sure sounds like asking your players to post glowing reviews for advertisement purposes to me.
That's a bit of a reach.
Yet that's exactly what happened. You may have underestimated your fan base's zeal a bit...

It's extremely obvious (based on account behavior, timings and even a few duplicate accounts - the latter I've already purged) that the votes and reviews were not motivated by the desire to improve VNDB and that there was some sort of coordination behind them. We can discuss the "on behalf of the developer" wording - I can't tell who or what is responsible for this - but the "advertisement" part is certainly real.

but it's late so I doubt I'll be getting until tomorrow at the earliest
It's early, in fact. Yay timezones. :)
#15 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 14:20
< report >Thanks for the response, yorhel.

At the very least, I'd definitely appreciate the removal of "on behalf of the developer" as those warnings combined with a growing discussion labeled "Fake reviews" do nothing but attract negative attention. I recognize every single name that submitted a review and would very likely be able to have them reach out to verify the legitimacy.

I certainly do have some zealous fans who think highly of my work, but to call their words fake and to insinuate that those aren't actual reviews but something that I made/paid them to post is a complete slap in the face.

Having those things up ties a caveat to every single positive score and makes the situation look a lot worse and more suspicious than it actually is.

I'm sure that it might look like some overly vehement defense on my end, but this is how I make my living. Having my practices called into question through a means like this could seriously damage both the image of the game and my image as a creator.
#16 by yorhel
2021-05-28 at 15:13
< report >I do not really call the legitimacy of the reviews into question, I'm not going to deny that fanboyism is a thing, otherwise I'd just have flagged or deleted them instead of adding the note. The "fake" accusation doesn't come from me and was in the thread title, I agree that was unwarranted.

What I call into question and what I added the note for is the motivation behind the reviews. I understand it's easy to ask people to vote/review your game on VNDB when everyone and their pet has "please share, like and subscribe on <insert social media>" as part of their marketing messages - and they evidently work, otherwise nobody would bother. But every system subject to such marketing behavior has instantly lost its value in helping people discover products, hence the message and my response. Such behavior is manipulative and simply not welcome over here. So I suppose this counts as a slap in the face to the both of us.

I'll remove the "on behalf of the developer" part in a sec.
#17 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 15:22
< report >Thanks a lot, yorhel. I really appreciate the way this has been handled and greatly appreciate your understanding.
#18 by sanahtlig
2021-05-28 at 15:25
< report >The problem isn't that the reviews are fake. It's that they're biased: purposeful and motivated by a source external to the community. VNDB reviews are supposed to be a pseudo-random sampling of user reactions to the game, but your pitch disrupted that by galvanizing your super-fans to overrepresent the positive reactions.

I understand you had no ill intentions: from your perspective this is no different than asking players to leave a Steam review. But there's some key differences: every player of a Steam game already has a Steam account, so players with negative or neutral feedback are more likely to be sampled. Steam has a huge userbase; VNDB is a small community and is very susceptible to brigading.

Based on the above, soliciting users outside VNDB to leave votes/reviews on VNDB is disruptive. There's not necessarily anything wrong with marketing here, but don't solicit votes/reviews to do it.Last modified on 2021-05-28 at 15:30
#19 by dj-horn
2021-05-28 at 15:37
< report >@18 I understand that now and won't be mentioning/soliciting participation (Apart from helping with the database itself) in the future. I never meant for the system to be disrupted in this way and apologize for the need of admin intervention.
#20 by anonymous
2021-06-03 at 12:24
< report >Well, another suspicious review just has been posted. I thought this whole incident has been resolved but it seems like the fanbase keeps going on, not that we can explicitly tell them to stop anyway.Last modified on 2021-06-03 at 12:32
#21 by sanahtlig
2021-06-03 at 16:34
< report >If the appeal for reviews is in the game itself (the most obvious place to put it), this could continue indefinitely. Even if the dev promptly removed it, prior releases will linger in the wild and continue to direct traffic here.Last modified on 2021-06-03 at 16:38
#22 by antherus
2021-06-03 at 22:46
< report >Well, I read some of it. The game isn't complete, so it's a work in progress. About the only thing I can judge it on, given its incomplete status, is the quality of the writing.

So far? It's good. The characters feel real, the dialogue seems natural, and the premise is interesting. The comedy is on point and the jokes land the majority of the time. The story definitely needs some tweaking (which the author admitted), but it has promise. Art is mostly good, a few minor issues with perspective, but few and far between. Biggest gripe probably is that it's not always clear what's needed to actually move the plot forward, and at one point I got completely stuck, not realizing I needed to make a combination of menu choices that one normally would NEVER make. It wasn't until I broke down and looked up a guide that I finally realized what to do. Lots of grindy parts with substantial lulls in the progression. Probably needs tightening up.

Overall, I was entertained, and I'm waiting to see more.
I'd give it a tentative 8 out of 10.
#23 by maxito
2021-06-04 at 16:36
< report >@22 You can't talk about writing if you didn't understand Danganronpa V3
#24 by antherus
2021-06-04 at 18:34
< report >#23 Oh, I understood V3. It was awful, but I understood it.

The entire series of Danganronpa is really kinda crap, so it says a lot about you that you liked it.

And seriously, what's with the attack? Go away, no-life loser.
#25 by maxito
2021-06-04 at 23:04
< report >@25 so many mean words, your childhood must have been hard.