Google Play reviews are all about you

Google Play
The Man With No Name isn't welcome here.

It's a sad day for trolls and sock puppets: not only is YouTube encouraging users to post using their Google+ usernames, now Google is rolling out Google+ to its Google Play reviews too.

Existing reviews won't be affected, but future ones will be "powered by Google+".

That means no more anonymous reviews.


There are lots of very good reasons why people might want to stay anonymous online, but when it comes to the majority of content reviews I don't think they count.

With reviews, anonymity is often a tool for cowards and spammers, unethical developers and utter idiots, and the sooner it's scrapped the better.

Anonymity can be a tool for tools

The problem with reviews is that they aren't just opinions.

They're recommendations, pieces of information that people use to guide their buying decisions - so if 99% of the reviews were posted by the person who wrote the app, or by people who have a vested interest in some other way, then people are being conned out of their cash.

Removing anonymity doesn't remove that completely, I know. For example, recent Amazon sock-puppet scandals revolved around named accounts, not anonymous ones.

But if reviews are a free-for-all, then you can end up with what looks like drive-by reviewing, people spraying bile like bullets.

Removing anonymity might not stop them, but it adds a speed bump - and that bump's often enough to discourage at least some of the fakers, trolls and utter imbeciles. Worst case scenario? It just annoys them. I'm all for that.

Even if it doesn't stop all of the baddies, linking profiles helps us punters because reputation matters.

When someone's praising something to the heavens or damning it to Hell, you can see what else they've liked or lambasted - and you can see whether they've signed up ten minutes ago and this is their first review.

That information matters, because it means we can decide whether a review is worth paying attention to or if it stinks like a forgotten fish.

I'm all for online anonymity, but not in this case. If you're going to tell me how to spend my cash, I want to know who you are.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now and her next book, about pop music, is out in 2025. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind.