JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

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JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by hdouglas » Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:32 pm

We are in the process of developing a new JED (JED4) which will offer a number of enhancements and improvements. One key area of discussion with the current JED is the topic of reviews. We are eager to seek out constructive opinions and ideas regarding the JED Reviews, in fact even, whether we should include them at all.

By way of background, over the years there has been a constant stream of fake review submissions, some of which are identified and removed, others which slip under the radar. Fake reviews only devalue the whole review system but the issue of automating the process to identify and filter them out can affect genuine reviews.

We would therefore welcome ideas and genuine user experiences to help structure the new system. PLEASE DO NOT INITIATE A DISCUSSION HERE, instead, go to https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1U79i8I ... gjsapVUDMk and complete the online form with your comments and suggestions.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss further where appropriate, so if you are willing, please also include your email address when submitting your form.

Many thanks
Hugh Douglas-Smith
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by hdouglas » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:24 pm

We have unlocked this thread, so if it helps to comment here, please do so. Please keep on topic.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:39 pm

Perhaps make it a requirement to submit real name, postal address and phone number when submitting a review? Or make it an option then only allow the ability to 'star' rate if they have supplied their details.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by toivo » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:28 pm

@Webdongle +1

A couple of years ago I had to stop posting reviews because they were always rejected by the automated system.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:38 pm

@Webdongle: that's not a bad idea.

At the moment, the JED user profile only includes username, "real name" and email address. Not that it would be a bad thing to add postal address and telephone number to the profile, I can't imagine anyone vetting the information to ensure that it was genuine (but it may be a step in the right direction, nonetheless).

What's disappointing—and this is something that's been at the forefront of many criticisms about the current system—is that the automated anti-spam processes capture and exclude as many genuine reviews as it does with sham ones. It's always been difficult for extension developers to obtain users' views (whether they're good, bad, positive or negative) without the added obstacles that people have to overcome in order to get through the process. As I have written several times in this forum (see, for example,... whatever opinions I may have (together with other people's views on the JED review processes) will probably have negligible effect on the final "product".

Even though the OP has asked for expressions of interest and I'm hoping that there's a cultural shift within the JED team to open up the process to encourage people to use the JED review mechanisms, I remain somewhat sceptical. :)
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:16 pm

Not sure about adding it to the profile unless it was optional. The idea is that people could post a review but only give ratings if all the details were complete. Users could then decide how much they believed the review based on whether or not the reviewer had the 'right' to give a rating.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:23 pm

@Webdongle: FYI, people need to register an account with the JED to write reviews; it's the same user registration procedure that developers have to use to submit an extension for listing. The user registration procedure sits outside of the forum, the Community Magazine, Documentation, etc. parts of how people can interact with joomla.org. I'm sure you knew that but I thought I would mention it anyway.

The current user registration procedure, AFAIK, does not allow anything more than what I wrote in my previous post in this discussion, i.e. username, "real name" and email address (and, if you're a developer, a "developer name"). I could be wrong, though ...

If each review had to be accompanied by the "reviewer" adding additional details like their tel. no., physical address, etc., I think that may be complicating things. Even so, there may be some merit in considering how to implement your idea.

The number one problem we're dealing with is that the JED team wants to automate, as much as possible, the whole review submission process so that they're not involved in physically checking all the details. It's because of this that the automated checking process rejects as many legitimate reviews as it's intended to reject bogus ones.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:12 pm

Thinking aloud, I agree with the premise of @Webdongle's suggestion which is about ensuring the legitimacy (or right) for someone to post a review about an extension. In my opinion, a person who wants to submit a review—the reviewer—should only be allowed to do so if they have actually installed the extension in a website.

If it were possible for the reviewer to be able to "prove" that they had installed the extension and submit that proof at the time they were posting their review then @Webdongle's idea makes sense. Merely providing their name, tel. no or other personal details is not proof that they have actually installed the product(s) they're reviewing.

Unfortunately, an unless there was a redesign of the JED system (and possibly Joomla! itself), there isn't any such information that anyone can give that proves their actual use of extensions they're using. I don't have an answer for this.

Conceptually, if there was some information provided by the extension developer that could be kept with the JED listing (e.g. a unique "token" or maybe the link in the extension's <updateservers> element of the XML) and the reviewer had to include this "token" or link from their Update Sites, this might achieve the desired outcome. Of course, when a developer updates their extension, they'll need to double-check the information and update the JED listing.

It's not a foolproof design. It would only work for those extensions that use the Joomla extension autoupdate process (but that might be a good thing) but it could be an idea.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:23 pm

Further thought: another idea might be to create a new "token generator" extension, written by the JED team. If a reviewer wants to submit a review, they would have to install the "token generator" extension that would encrypt the [installed] extension they were reviewing together with a timestamp. The token would have a "lifetime" of, say, an hour and, having obtained the token, the reviewer would have one hour before the token expired during which time the reviewer could write and post their review.

This idea would not require any changes to the JED system itself. It would require someone writing a "token generator" extension that would pull the information from the reviewer's website (to "prove" that they had installed the product) and the review system would need to decrypt this information to match it against two criteria:

a) the decrypted information about the product matched the JED listing name, and
b) the token was valid for the time when the review was being made.

Just a thought.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:30 pm

@sozzled
Nope Just username and password no postal address or phone number
To make it clear
When a user posts a review ... if they want to rate it as well they need to supply Postal address and telephone number. There are ways to verify post/zip codes ... not sure about other countries.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:31 pm

@sozzled
Yep token would be good especially if it could fail to work if was on localhost.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:36 pm

Thanks, mate. I don't think it matters whether the "token generator" idea (as I proposed just now) worked or not on a PC-hosted machine. Many people trial extensions on localhost-served websites and their experiences may be just a valuable as those people who install extensions of "real" websites.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 9:52 pm

Here's a hypothetical example based on Akeeba's Admin Tools component (v 5.3.2). The generated token could use the first five letters of the extension name (i.e. "Admin") converted to hex, the version number, and the timestamp (in SQL format), like this:

Code: Select all

41646d696e_5.3.2_1562881894
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by hdouglas » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:11 pm

There are some interesting ideas here, keep it up. It might be worth understanding some of the background.

In the previous JED all reviews were manually processed by a team of 5-6 Review Checkers and often the backlog of reviews to check stretched mode than 2 weeks. That meant a steady stream of tickets because even with that many involved, the reviews were not published 'instantly'. So with the current JED the design spec was that all reviews would be published and then removed if found to be at fault.

Now there are many more reviews submitted than before and there are still major issues of both fake reviews (positive and negative) and revenge reviews. We do our best to strike a balance between what is fair for the developer and what is fair for the user, often it is a hard line to walk.

Anonimity of the reviewer is an issue so the idea of entering a full address is a good one, but how can it be verified? If posting a review just mean registering with a few fake details, who would know?

I like the concept of verifying that an extension has been used, but I have worries about its practicality. Many Joomla users are building websites for clients and installing some form of checker on a client site so you can post a review is yet another barrier preventing reviews being posted. What may have merit is requiring the URL of the website where the extension has been used?

Hopefully some others will jump in with further ideas. Thank you all for the input so far.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:29 pm

Thanks, Hugh. I understand what you mean about "practicality" where end users might be disincentivised to install another extension merely to post a review about an extension that a website developer (i.e. a person contracted to build a site for the end user and load it with extensions that the site developer thought would meet the end user's needs) installed on their behalf.

Yeah, that's tricky. I guess some end users might want to review a product that a site developer installed. I would also imagine that, if the end user had a view about those products, they would contact the site developer in the first instance. Even so, it's difficult to please everyone.

One of the biggest disappointments that I see here on this forum is the number of people who create a forum topic with the subject "Can someone please recommend an extension to do such-and-such". We, who contribute to the forum on a daily basis, search the JED and offer our suggestions.

In short, as I have written before about this subject, user reviews are important. They're important to extension developers and they're important to the community.

If, however, the JED system encouraged the use of user testimonials then I feel that the JED listings would speak for themselves. This is the crux of the problem. The JED listings, for the most part, lack those user reviews. We have our suspicions as to why that is the case but I believe the automated anti-spam filtering of reviews is a significant factor. As @toivo commented earlier, people just give up making the effort because the automated anti-spam filtering acts as a brake on the ecosystem instead of being an accelerator.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:17 pm

hdouglas wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:11 pm
...
Anonimity of the reviewer is an issue so the idea of entering a full address is a good one, but how can it be verified? If posting a review just mean registering with a few fake details, who would know?...
First off ... not registering with full postal address. Rather having to enter it on each review.

Secondly there are ways of verifying postal addresses https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postal_ad ... rification https://smartystreets.com/products/apis ... street-api

If verification fails then the the form does not submit or it submits but rating is disabled.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:36 pm

Returning to the heart of the issue—the right to review (as opposed to discussing the "mechanics" about how that right might be asserted)—I submit that the right for people to submit a review should be based on the principle that the reviewer has actually installed the extension they're reviewing.

Debating the mechanics of how a right may be asserted (e.g. personal information or the URL of a website that doesn't actually tie-in to whether an extension has been installed by that person there or anywhere else), is not the point in my view.

I've proposed an idea and it's not foolproof but I think it gets closer to the point of @Webdongle's initial suggestion in relation to establishing a review's "legitimacy".

But, clearly, the existing system is broken. The existing system relies on IP addresses and keywords. This system prevents as many legitimate reviews as it prevents bogus ones.

I don't think it matters if a review contains a scorecard or "stars" but what's the value in having a review system that lacks such features? The average punter probably only casts a cursory glance over a product listing anyway and probably reads less than one-hundredth of the text contained in the product description or the reviews themselves. The only time when time has any value is when you don't have any. People probably take more notice of visual cues (like a traffic-light system, or stars, etc.) Anyhow, what would I know? I'm not the average punter. :D
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:44 am

I don't think there is a foolproof way to validate reviews ... best that can be done is provide. Perhaps have a panel of 'official' reviewers? The reviews could indicate if the review was made by an 'official' reviewer or not. (That will ensure that at least some of the reviewers have tried the extension not just installed it).
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by gws » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:20 am

Assuming this is more important for paid extensions,would it be a simple matter to ask that the invoice for an extension is included in the review submission? Just a thought.

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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:25 am

@Wedongle: You're right. There isn't a foolproof way to do anything ... however ...

... the current system is broken! We've been trying to get this message across for years. I'm well aware of the background explanation written by @hdouglas but, by the same token, as I wrote at the beginning of this discussion
sozzled wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:38 pm
... whatever opinions I may have (together with other people's views on the JED review processes) will probably have negligible effect on the final "product".
Rephrasing what I have written a couple of times earlier in this discussion, I don't think it's pivotal to this discussion, at this time, to be debate how to "fool-proof" a means of "validating" a person's right to use the JED review submission form. That's something the JED4 design team can consider. I pray that the JED4 design team discards the current IP/keyword-based anti-review rules; that should be the first objective. Then we can consider alternatives that don't militate against the JED but, rather, promote it.

@gws: see my comments to @Webdongle above. I feel as though this discussion is becoming weighed down in details. All reviews are important: they're important to developers and to the community; they're important whether the extensions are distributed-for-fee or ones you have to pay for. There is no more or less important reviews or classes of extension. The JED should be seen as being a level playing field for all developers and all users alike, regardless of how one builds an extension or how one obtains it.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by gws » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:39 am

@ sozzled, personally free extensions reviews are not so important to me as I will just install it and if it doesn't do what I need I uninstall it,I cant do that with paid extensions so the reviews are more relevant,perhaps that's just me.

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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:47 am

gws wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:39 am
... free extensions reviews are not so important to me [as a user].
When you finish the sentence, it changes the meaning, doesn't it?

As I have written before on this forum, more times than I care to remember, reviews are important to developers, perhaps more so than to users, as they may be of benefit to end users/average punters. I'm writing both as a developer and as an "average" punter.

As I've also written before on this forum, more times than I care to remember, most people don't give a rat's what I've written before on this forum.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Fri Jul 12, 2019 3:47 pm

Reviews of free extensions (imho) are just as important because they could lead to sales of the dev's paid extensions.

Perhaps it's time to summarise the suggestions
  1. Need to fill in postal address and phone name to either post a review and rate or just to have the ability to rate.
  2. A token system to prove it was installed before being reviewed.
  3. Having 'official testers' and clearly mark the reviews that are 'official'.
  4. Get rid of the IP checking
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:25 pm

I agree with point 4 above. I would however summarise the discussion's strategy as:
  • Retain the ability to post reviews; reviews are an important part of the JED ecosystem.
  • Ensure that the people can only submit a review based on the principle that the reviewer has actually installed the extension they're reviewing; leave it to the JED4 development team to implement a mechanism to ensure that reviewers can establish they've installed the extension they're reviewing. Some of the ideas in this discussion may contribute to that implementation
  • Get rid of the current IP/keyword-based checking "algorithm".
I don't see the need for "official testers" (in fact, I would campaign against the idea). Although developers must submit the source code to the JED team, the source code is not for the use of JED team members to do anything other than run the JED Checker extension; the source code is not something that JED team members can misappropriate for their own personal use.

The JED is an market-place where people can offer their wares and others can "consume" those products. The rules governing the JED (esp. cf 4.3(a)) are clear or imply: the JED team does not arbitrate on matters of consumer law, the team does not adjudicate on whether products "deliver the goods", the team does not endorse products that are available. I hope that those principles do not change.

6.2 of the rules state:
A review must reflect your honest opinion or experience with the listing owner and may not be made in exchange for any type of compensation or benefit, including without limitation free products or services.
Some reviews are honest and some are not. Some reviews are worthwhile while others are total rubbish. It's not our job (in designing JED4) to adjudicate the honesty or value of reviews (but I think that it's unfair if people can get away with murder if reviews aren't based on actual usage of a product, right?). If people think that some of the reviews are inappropriate then they can report them and the JED review team can consider those requests. It's just like being a forum moderator: you win some, you lose some.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:48 pm

@sozzled
Your summary reflects what you would choose from the discussion ... it does not include all the points suggested. Therefore it is your conclusion not a summary.

The suggestions and the order they were suggested are (so far)
  1. Need to fill in postal address and phone name to either post a review and rate or just to have the ability to rate.
  2. A token system to prove it was installed before being reviewed.
  3. Having 'official testers' and clearly mark the reviews that are 'official'.
  4. Get rid of the IP checking
[/quote]
Point #1 does not negate the right for someone to post a review. It offers two possible scenarios.

Your conclusion (that you claim is a summary) misinterprets point #1 as well as completely omitting point #3
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:23 pm

I agree with #4 and I completely disagree with #3 for the reasons I wrote (that it goes against the intention of the JED terms of use). Points 1 and 2 are a couple of options to underpin the principle (dot-point 2 of my reply) that I endorsed.

@hdouglas asked the question at the beginning:
hdouglas wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:32 pm
We are eager to seek out constructive opinions and ideas regarding the JED Reviews, in fact even, whether we should include them at all.
My first dot-point addresses this question. I think that the JED4 should have reviews. I would like that included in the summary of the discussion.
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Webdongle » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:14 pm

Yes that is not in question. What is in question is that you called your conclusion a 'summary'.
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sozzled
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by sozzled » Fri Jul 12, 2019 11:18 pm

Sorry. I won't say "summary". I will say "personal conclusions", "abstract", "take-out", "inference", or any other term that you might consider more suitable. It's not worth arguing about. 8)
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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by hdouglas » Mon Jul 15, 2019 3:24 pm

Wow, a weekend and lots more input, I am very grateful. We need a few more people to get involved in this to widen the perspective.
What I have picked up on and I really like the concept (if we can find a reliable way to implement) is the "Right to review".
What would also be useful would be understanding if those commenting are doing so from a users' perspective or a developers' perspective. The JED must support both as one would not exist without the other.

On the numbered points which have been raised, my initial comments are:
1. Need to fill in postal address and phone name to either post a review and rate or just to have the ability to rate.
The issue here is, we are a global organisation, checking addresses across all locations is impractical and does not prevent anyone completing a form with any valid address, this method offers no verification whatsoever.
2. A token system to prove it was installed before being reviewed.
This comes into the 'right to review' category and has real merit if we can find a seamless way to integrate a system which will not put off reviewers
3. Having 'official testers' and clearly mark the reviews that are 'official'.
This is a non starter, there simply isn't the volunteer force available.
4. Get rid of the IP checking
We already recognise that the IP checking is not perfect and one of the design principals of the new JED is to move away from it. Sadly there are a lot of 'spammers' out there who create multiple accounts and enter numerous reviews, we need to find a way to filter those.
Hugh Douglas-Smith

JED Review Manager
Operations Department Coordinator
http://www.webappz.co.uk

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Re: JED Reviews - We Need Your Suggestions

Post by Physicist » Mon Jul 15, 2019 5:50 pm

What about the following flow?

1. In user's profile on JED there should be a way to set a list of 2nd level domains that a user owns (allowing of 3nd level domain may be used by spammers).
2. For each domain there should be a simple authorization procedure (e.g. uploading a file with specified name, or adding a meta tag, or installing a JED Review Assistance plugin, etc.).
3. When user posts a review, one of required fields is domain name (<select> list), and then JED sends a request to get extension's xml manifest from server (if allowed by server) or a request to JED Review Assistance plugin to check the extension is installed.
Denis Ryabov, Lead Developer of Mobile Joomla! extension (https://www.mobilejoomla.com/)


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