First one-star review

The plague of one-star iTunes reviews has finally spread to me—I’m one of the big guys now!

For those of you who don’t know, many podcasters have been hit with intensely negative, usually mean-spirited and sometimes downright offensive reviews on iTunes USA. There are a lot of conspiracy theories flying around, suggesting an organised group is behind them, but the victims are varied enough that I personally doubt it. There are, however, plenty of sick people who get their jollies out of shitting on others, and sometimes they do it to “defend” or “support” podcasters they do like in the warped delusion that tearing others down builds up their favourites.

I really couldn’t care less about iTunes reviews in general: There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to how they affect where on the featured pages a podcast is listed. To me, it’s one of those things that are nice to have, but we all know they’re largely irrelevant.

The coward who left my one-star review has also attacked: Dubious Intent, The LK Today, Terminally Single, Pod Is My Co-Pilot, Mentalwarts Radio, The Power Gay, Manhandled in Montana, Alex and Dean – Gay Men Talking, Big Fatty Online, The Other O Show, They Don’t Know, The Way We See It, ArcherRadio, We’re Mean Because You’re Stupid, Gifilte Fag, Don’t Quit Your Day Job and The Direct Approach with British John. I list them all so you can go to iTunes USA and give them all 5-star reviews and symbolically give the finger to this asshole. Another strategy is to click on his user name and click “no” to the question “Was this review helpful?” for all his reviews. I’ve already done that, but I can’t leave reviews in the iTunes USA store.

By the way, the coward likes: John Stossel’s audio book (that figures), Good Morning America – Video (figures, it’s shallow), ABC World News – Audio (okay, that surprised me: Isn’t ABC and Charlie Gibson part of the “Liberal Conspiracy”?), The Onion Radio News, the movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” (I suppose someone had to like it), “Fight Club” (violent, of course) and a podcast called LGBT Heroes (because he thinks the host is hot).

So, this person is like an immature fourteen year old and seems full of himself. Reading his reviews is like watching paint dry or the grass grow. His self-indulgence comes across a bit too much—he actually thinks this is interesting? Give me a break. He’s just plain crazy.

That slamming is actually drawn from the one-star reviews he’s left. Here’s the thing: If someone hates these shows so much, why does he listen to them?! He moans endlessly about sound quality, but how much, exactly, did he pay for any of them? Nothing. Podcasters buy what they can afford, and the coward isn’t contributing a cent toward what podcasters produce in their spare time. If he doesn’t like the content or the sound quality, he should do what most people do: Unsubscribe. It’s like he has a personal vendetta because a given podcaster doesn’t fit his mental (perfect word…) image of what a great podcast is and should sound like.

What that coward apparently doesn’t realise is that neither subscription nor listening are mandatory. Doesn’t suit you? No worries—move on. But why trash people and their podcast just because you’re frustrated and bitter with life? Okay, so what if you’re a miserable failure—don’t take it out on others.

The review the coward left me actually starts out fine: “Good audio, but this show is way too political.” I’m glad he likes my audio (but, hilariously, he hates Daniel Brewer’s!! Maybe he needs a hearing aide?). The majority of my shows have not been political, but if he thinks it’s “way too political,” he’s entitled to his opinion. Then the kicker: “This moonbat of a host is just plain crazy.” The word “moonbat” is a derogatory term that wingnuts (a derrogatory term derived from “rightwing nuts”) use to describe anyone who’s a bit to the left of Attila the Hun. Calling me “just plain crazy”, however, is offensive and, typically, incredibly juvenile and immature.

I’m well aware that the coward probably hopes for reactions. I doubt, however, that he will ever see this (I’m guessing he has trouble reading). I call him a coward because, like all bullies, he does his damage from behind a veil of anonymity, like KKK robes. But I taunt him anyway because bullies can’t stand it when their victims stand up to them. It’d be great if I could get him to attack me here, force him out of the closet he’s hiding in—oops!—I’m sure he’s far too deeply in the closest for that.

This plague has gone on long enough. Many of the podcasters I know are angry that fuckwads like this can pollute iTunes reviews with their filth, but no one knows what to do about it. I’ve had countless conversations with podcasters who have been victimised. Some have been deeply hurt by what can only be called viscious personal attacks. This has got to stop.

I have some suggestions:

First, we should mark these bullshit one-star reviews with “No” they’re not helpful, as I said above (writing 5-star reviews, as appropriate, couldn’t hurt, either). Don’t forget to mark ALL their other reviews as not helpful, even when they’re positive.

Finally, we should demand that iTunes not allow these egregious attack reviews and that it provide a better and faster mechanism for removing such reviews. If we can’t get iTunes to act more responsibly, then we need to begin work on an alternative delivery method that will let listeners bypass iTunes altogether.

As for me, I’ve said what I wanted to say. I can’t do anything about the coward’s review because, since I’m not registered with the iTunes USA store, I can’t report it as offensive. But I’ll add one last thing: The guy’s obviously stupid, too: He left the review in the wrong place. Clearly, he doesn’t listen to podcasts closely or read carefully where he’s leaving his poison, or he’d know he left it for my old feed, which soon will be going away. I hope he does, too. But at least his stupidity gave me a good laugh.


12 thoughts on “First one-star review

  1. I think you are right on. Yes I admit to not listening to every episode but I think this guy is missing the point. The one star should be used for reviews of content that hurtful, shameful, or mean. None of these podcasts are that.

    Besides who dislike someone that rocks a hot beard like you do? Or at least your pictures do.

  2. He left us (The QCast Connection) a one-star review, too, saying that our new format shows that we no longer care about our listeners, because we haven’t read any email or played any voicemail during the last two shows we posted (I guess the previous 170 shows don’t matter). Huh??

    We also got a three-star review this past week, citing that we hadn’t “hit our stride yet”. Well, if we haven’t hit it after 170+ shows, I doubt we’re going to. To his liking, anyway.

    Some people truly amaze me.

  3. Bjorn: Thanks. More often than not, I think that one-star reviews are inappropriate for anything except maybe the sort of extreme examples you mentioned. Certainly not to score bitchy points against someone who’s giving away their work for free!

    As for the beard—blush! Well, you can’t see that, what with the beard and all, but thanks!

    Michael: This morning I saw that the doofus had hit you guys too, so I clicked “no” that the review was not helpful. I did that with all his other reviews that weren’t there last night, too. If this coward gets a reputation for leaving bad reviews, other customers will start to ignore him rather than wonder if he’s right.

  4. Very well said Arthur!!! This jerk has also left me a 1 star which has been removed since so many people flagged it. The string of reviews leaves me sad that people have to be that negative… But I do know that the group of us together perhaps doing as you suggest could make a difference……

  5. Preach on Sister! I couldn’t agree more, the people out there who make the comments have no life and if podcasting is the greatest joy in their life, get out. But since I only sit around and watch TV and DVDs I guess I don’t know what I”m talking about. I also complain to much! but you know Bitter is Better

  6. Arthur I was truly saddened by the series of events on many podcasts – mine included – I was given a two star review and a three star review recently and the major complaint is that I gave my viewpoint on what a guest of mine had said.

    One review even said that I must have forgot that my show is an interview show and not to go rambling on about my life – hello it is a personal journal show and from time to time I ramble on about my life.

    I thought it was similar to what he said about your show and how you talk about politics too much again HELLO – it is a topic you talk about!!!

    As much as we do not like to read these comments the fact is that you and I and all of those presented with this “gift” need to remember that we all have loyal listeners who love our shows for what they are and what is being said.

  7. I agree with the “no” on helpfulness and reporting…

    Personally, I’m going to stick with the “nice to have but largely irrelevant” point of iTunes reviews.

    This is why I’ve called out for people to leave me dessert recipes via iTunes reviews, and have made a contest of it.

    I got the idea from Braindouche (a twitter friend I made very serendipitously) who wanted to see the review section for Braindouche radio become a good online database for brownie recipes.

  8. Hey Arthur,
    I totally agree with your blog posting (for once! haha j/k)…
    You’re such an excellent, well-thoughtout writer as well podcaster. Your calmness and personality really shine.
    We also have been hit by several 1 star reviews. At this point, we have decided to just ignore them and keep on our litle merry way. I’m with you, I could care less about the reviews, but when they become so personal, it really hurts. But of course, I have no reason to be behind a mic, so guess my opinion doesn’t count. LOL
    Keep up the great work.

  9. Mary: I completely agree with you. But I’m afraid that this coward will probably hit you again with a new “review”. I’ll be sure to mark it “no”!

    Tim: Haha, well, the one thing I can promise is that I haven’t even started preaching yet!

    Ramble Redhead: At the time I wrote this, you hadn’t been victimised yet. I’ve since marked your review “no”, of course. My goal, ultimately, is to force iTunes to be more responsible or to take “reviews” completely out of the rankings formula, at least for Personal Journal podcasts. Stay tuned.

    Epilonious: You know, the recipe request is the best idea I’ve heard yet! If we can’t force iTunes to do the right thing, then let’s fuck it up altogether. Stay tuned about that, too…

    Jonathan: Well, your opinion counts with me—even when we disagree! Okay, so that’s probably most of the time… 😉

    Seriously, you hit on an important thing I didn’t mention: The hurtfulness of these attacks. Almost no one in the Personal Journals sub-category is doing their podcast for money. What makes these “reviewers” think they have a right to attack us for what is, essentially, a labour of love? Thank you for the compliments, and one thing I’d like to add publicly is how much I value our interaction, even though we often disagree: We can disagree without being disagreeable.

    And a general note that I want to reiterate: I do NOT buy into any conspiracy theory. Believe them if you want to, but unless I get evidence sufficient to get a conviction (i.e., beyond a reasonable doubt) I will presume innocence. And, anyway, nothing excuses the fuckwad who has decided to use iTunes to viciously attack a podcaster: In my opinion, they made the decision to attack someone so they alone are responsible for their actions, regardless of what their motivation was.

  10. Guess I missed the point of the reviews completely. I write them to recommend a podcast or to give an impression of it so others ‘shopping’ for a podcast can make up their own mind(s). Even the casts I like may not get five stars . .. if they’re so hung up on five stars then just use a yes/no flag and forget the 2,3,4 in between.
    I give Arthur Five Stars because I like the cast, the topics and the host’s view on things. I’m sure you read the comments and take into account the source; some critical comments can improve the show and some positive ones can give you diabetic shock.
    Continue on, my friend!

  11. I don’t think you’re crazy!

    I do however, think this. And please take no offense. I think that by all the podcasters who are making a big deal out of the one star reviews and this new snarky podcast review website The Daily Mic are sort of letting the bad guys win. I think people like that enjoy seeing happy people become unhappy. And when we express publicly on blogs and podcasts about how much we think these people suck, we give them a little thrill. Its what they want. They want the happy podcasters to get pissed off, and that is exactly what a lot of podcasters have been expressing lately.

    So don’t let them win! if you get a one star, big deal. And not that I’m supporting these people (because simply put, they suck..) Hell if you get a 2 or 3 star, what does it matter to you? Podcasters make shows for entertainment. and probably personal fulfillment. (Which is a very good, healthy things to do!!) There will always be people who come along who don’t 100% like what you so bravely share with the world. It really means nothing because, look at all the other reviews you have. Not just reviews–but FIVE star reviews. From genuine people you know and hear from regularly who always give you support no matter the sound quality (-=

    You–and all the other podcasts–have such a wide range of positive listeners who absolutely LOVE you…look forward to hearing your voice…get excited when they see YOUR show download and can’t wait to hear it. I think that is what we need to focus on. How cool is it that there are people literally all over the world looking forward to hearing what you have to say? Its a got to be a good feeling. So don’t let it get you down. You rock…and thousands of people agree with me!

  12. Lord Byron: That’s what I use reviews for, too. However, since the ones I write are all in the New Zealand store, and have no bearing on rankings in iTunes USA, I haven’t exactly rushed to review podcasts—not even my own! Still, they ought to be instructive or, if negative, at least constructive.

    Lauren: I think you’re right about people who “enjoy seeing happy people become unhappy”. It’s pretty sick, but there are a lot of sick people out there. I also think you’re right that all they really want is a reaction: After I posted this rant, the coward posted another review on my correct feed—this time a 2 star review, and he removed the defamatory bits while remaining stupid (it’s written as if by someone who’s never actually listened to the podcast, or maybe a couple episodes).

    At any rate, I’ve moved on, as I’ll explain next time.

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