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Most common words unique to 1-star and 5-star App Store reviews

I wrote a script to crawl U.S. App Store customer reviews for the top 100 apps from every category (minus duplicates) and compute the most common words in 1-star and 5-star reviews, excluding words that were also common in 3-star reviews.

Keep in mind that the results are not representative of overall user opinions: most users don’t review apps, and people who dislike an app are more likely to leave a review than people who like it.

These are the top words by rating, with descending frequency:

★★★★★:
awesome, worth, thanks, amazing, simple, perfect, price, everything, ever, must, ipod, before, found, store, never, recommend, done, take, always, touch

★☆☆☆☆:
waste, money, crashes, tried, useless, nothing, paid, open, deleted, downloaded, didn’t, says, stupid, anything, actually, account, bought, apple, already

Bold words are adjectives or likely to be used as adjectives in context.

Some are obvious: people like awesome apps and dislike those that crash. A few words are more interesting, though:

It’s promising to see simple in the top-positive list, which says a lot about user expectations on the platform.

Both positive and negative reviews seem unusually obsessed with price. This seems odd, given the relative cost of the hardware, accessories, and cellular service where applicable.

The negative words are most interesting to me: in addition to complaints about the price, one word is especially telling of a prevalent attitude I’ve seen for a while: useless. More than any other adjective, reviewers condemn apps they don’t like as “useless”. Subjectively, I usually see this in contexts in which the app doesn’t have a minor feature that the reviewer wants, or where it doesn’t perform well in a rare use-case, so the reviewer unfairly declares the app “useless”. This demonstrates a curious psychological effect of modern western culture that I’ll write about soon.

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