Here at Joomlashack, we publish a lot of extensions! There are 25 Joomlashack extensions on the Joomla Extensions Directory (JED).
The JED is a wonderful platform, and has been an enormous help for developers like us.
24 of our extensions run smoothly on the JED, getting some good reviews and the occasional negative feedback.
However, there's one exception: OSMap.
The story of OSMap's spam reviewer
We released OSMap in March 2015, after seeing the the old XMap extension was no longer being maintained.
Almost immediately, bad reviews started to arrive. OSMap isn't perfect - we've had plenty of genuine reviews from people who didn't like the extension.
However, these bad reviews were very easy to spot. They looked exactly the same:
- The reviewer had a brand new account, with no other JED activity.
- The user's details didn't appear anywhere else on Joomla.org or other Joomla sites.
- The user's details didn't appear in our systems, and we record every download of OSMap.
- The reviewer wasn't a native English speaker and repeats the same typos.
- The review scores were almost never 0. The scores were between 1 to 12 out of 100.
- The feedback was very short and inaccurate: Mostly it was an incomplete sentence: "No documentation", "No way to contact them" etc
- Even looking back years later, the spam accounts never did anything else on Joomla.org. They existed just to leave that review.
These reviews arrived every couple of weeks. The JED team were wonderfully helpful. They removed the spam reviews.
In fact, the JED team were so effective that the spammer posted on the Joomla forums. They wanted to know why all their spam reviews were being removed. As always, it was a fake username with no user history.
Sadly, the spammer didn't stop after that. Every month or so, a fake review pops up on the JED. Here's "Francisco", showing all the signs of a spam reviewer:
Here's "Sean" from 2017:
Here's "okinawaweb" from 2015:
Sometimes the reviewer will use the name of another Joomla developer. Sometimes the reviewer will go to the Joomla forums and steal the name of another user. In several cases, that user has actually been a customer of ours. We've been able to email and confirm that someone stole their identity.
We've never had a single review like this on any other extension. This person is targeting OSMap, not Joomlashack. With OSMap, the reviews started in 2015 and they keep arriving every month or so, even in 2019.
So what happens next?
Sadly, the answer is probably, "not much".
The JED team have always been very responsive when we report reviews. Occasionally, they'll say, "Sorry, there's not enough evidence to remove a review". However, we really appreciate their support and normally they do delete these reviews.
Still, the spam reviewer is persistent enough that he or she continues to get through.
Do we know who the spam reviewer is? Yes, we have a pretty good idea. But no proof.
Does this matter? No, not in the grand scheme of things. Joomlashack keeps growing. We have 24 other extensions posted on the JED with no problems.
I had three goals in writing this post:
- Have a detailed report to share with the JED team every time the spammer returns.
- Explain to our customers why OSMap's JED score is significantly lower than other Joomlashack extensions.
- Say to the reviewer, "Hey, we still see you".
Finally, I feel a little sorry for this reviewer. They have spent a lot of time and effort trolling a piece of software.