Facebook tries new tactics to get users to rate apps

In a continued effort to get users to provide star ratings for apps they’ve recently connected to, Facebook has implemented a new “rate apps” sidebar module and redesigned similar module that appears on canvas pages.

The “rate apps” module (seen right) appears on pages across the site. Facebook also updated the design of the “rate recently used apps” feature that displays on canvas pages underneath a user’s bookmarks (seen below). Both modules present users with the option to give apps a rating out of five stars.

Several months after eliminating app reviews and ratings, Facebook began displaying star ratings once again in late March. An app’s average star rating appears within discovery modules on the right-hand side of pages and in the card that appears when users hover over the name of an app from within News Feed. Some users are even seeing a “featured apps” section of the games discovery page that includes ratings.

There does not seem to be a way for users to choose which apps to rate. With the old “Reviews” feature, users could visit a tab on any app profile page to give the app a star rating and leave a review. Because these were easily manipulated, users are now prompted to rate apps randomly. For example, they might see a “rate apps” module while visiting a fan page of something completely unrelated to the apps Facebook asks them to rate. Other times, when users visit a canvas app, such as Washington Post Social Reader, they will be prompted to rate another recently used app. In the past week or so, Facebook has updated the design of this module to display larger stars and eliminate the question “How would you rate [app X]?” See the difference below.

While this random sample approach might lead to more representative scores, it’s debatable how useful stars are in letting users know whether they’ll actually enjoy an app. Facebook’s strength is in social data and recommendations. Anonymous star ratings might make users subconsciously more likely to click over to a new title, but they would likely benefit much more from social context such as, “Users who like [this page] also use [this app]” or “You and a friend both play [game X]. Your friend also plays [game Y].”

Ratings could inform Facebook’s algorithms behind the scenes and give the company some additional data about the type of apps users like, which might be slightly different than what they use. For example, a person might regularly use the Hulu app to watch the latest TV shows but still think the app needs a lot of improvement. However, developers do not have access to more information about their ratings, so they can’t necessarily act on that user feedback.