I'd like to know how other developpers deal with unwarranted bad
rating/comments.

I cannot help to be regularly infuriated by what I see there even if I'm
trying to take this with a grain of salt (not easy I tell you after
pouring hours into development!)

We have:

- users thinking the comment system is a support forum
- confused users about the features of your app and making false claims
- users downgrading ratings if you ever make the sligthest mistake in a
upgrade: "..bla..bla...used to work....NOW USELESS!!!"
- condescending users giving you orders: "bla..bla..., please fix!"
- users stating the obvious: "trial version is limited. WHAI IT IS NOT
FREE????"
- users perverting stars as a tool: "...5 stars if ZZZ feature is
implemented"
- haters that just hate randomly

We all know by now that Google will never allow developers to contact
users. Users have won and can destroy your app at will making the
stupidiest claims without us being able to do anything.
From Google's point of view, we developpers are just good to churn out code
endlessly and shut up.

So what's you secret to deal or dodge all that crap ?

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  • John Coryat at Dec 31, 2011 at 4:45 am
    The only thing you can (currently) do is grin and bear it.

    Just get used to the bad comments. Who knows? Maybe one day we'll have a
    way to answer them but until then, it's an exercise in frustration.

    -John Coryat

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  • TreKing at Dec 31, 2011 at 9:50 am

    On Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 8:05 PM, b0b wrote:

    So what's you secret to deal or dodge all that crap ?

    Use the app itself as a vehicle to deliver messages to your users.
    http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers/browse_thread/thread/dc71ffe23d1b6e93?pli=1

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TreKing <http://sites.google.com/site/rezmobileapps/treking> - Chicago
    transit tracking app for Android-powered devices

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  • John Coryat at Dec 31, 2011 at 6:59 pm


    Use the app itself as a vehicle to deliver messages to your users.

    <http://groups.google.com/group/android-developers/browse_thread/thread/dc71ffe23d1b6e93?pli=1>
    That's all fine and good for people who already have your app but those
    that are "shopping" won't see it unless they've already dismissed the
    negative comment.

    -John Coryat

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  • Nathan at Dec 31, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    On Dec 31, 10:59 am, John Coryat wrote:
    Use the app itself as a vehicle to deliver messages to your users.
    That's all fine and good for people who already have your app but those
    that are "shopping" won't see it unless they've already dismissed the
    negative comment.
    True, but the idea has merit nonetheless.

    You are focusing on those users you *can* communicate with. It may
    even include the complainer if he hasn't uninstalled. These are people
    who are more likely to respond or comment in a reasonable way.

    I would like to do more communication through the app, not so much for
    comments, but to get the word out to those who don't opt in to the
    newsletter.

    Case in point, last month a third party server stopped working for my
    app, because it was bought up by a competitor who sabotaged it in
    order to run me out of business.

    All the users need to do is switch some settings, update the app, or
    usually both. That is on my helpdesk, on the app description, in the
    opening screen of the app, and covered adequately in my newsletters.
    But a month later, there are still people who haven't got the
    message.

    Nathan

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  • TreKing at Dec 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 12:59 PM, John Coryat wrote:

    That's all fine and good for people who already have your app but those
    that are "shopping" won't see it unless they've already dismissed the
    negative comment.

    True enough. But it helps in the sense that f a person leaves a negative
    comment / rating, after I respond to to it, some of the people that see my
    response jump to the market and bury the negative comment with positive
    ones. I've also have the person update or remove their rating. So it helps
    keep the positive comments at the top. After a while, people that would
    otherwise leave a negative comment / rating for whatever reason will have
    realized that that's not the way to go and will email for help or hold
    back, preventing more negative comments and ratings.

    And this is not only for responding to users, but proactively communicating
    with them.

    Perfect example: the last week or some I've had some server issue that has
    rendered one key feature in the app fairly useless. I sent a message via
    the app explaining the problem. I still got some emails about it asking
    what the deal was, but in over a week I have not received a single negative
    comment / rating due to this issue while I've been working it out.

    By responding to existing users I've garnered a lot of good will and, from
    my experience, absolutely helps curtail the negative comments and encourage
    positive ones. Plus, it's cathartic to lay into the haters and rate their
    rating of my app =) I've gotten a ton of emails from users that my
    responses are their favorite "feature".

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TreKing <http://sites.google.com/site/rezmobileapps/treking> - Chicago
    transit tracking app for Android-powered devices

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  • John Coryat at Dec 31, 2011 at 11:17 pm
    True enough. But it helps in the sense that f a person leaves a negative
    comment / rating, after I respond to to it, some of the people that see my
    response jump to the market and bury the negative comment with positive
    ones.

    That makes sense. You got me thinking how I can add that to my apps...

    -John Coryat

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  • Tim Mensch at Jan 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    On 12/31/2011 4:17 PM, John Coryat wrote:
    True enough. But it helps in the sense that f a person leaves a
    negative comment / rating, after I respond to to it, some of the
    people that see my response jump to the market and bury the negative
    comment with positive ones.

    That makes sense. You got me thinking how I can add that to my apps...
    I already added such an announcement to mine, largely because of
    TreKing's comments about it before. :)

    Tim

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  • Michael Pujos at Jan 1, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    On 31/12/2011 22:52, TreKing wrote:
    On Sat, Dec 31, 2011 at 12:59 PM, John Coryat wrote:

    That's all fine and good for people who already have your app but
    those that are "shopping" won't see it unless they've already
    dismissed the negative comment.


    True enough. But it helps in the sense that f a person leaves a
    negative comment / rating, after I respond to to it, some of the
    people that see my response jump to the market and bury the negative
    comment with positive ones. I've also have the person update or remove
    their rating. So it helps keep the positive comments at the top. After
    a while, people that would otherwise leave a negative comment / rating
    for whatever reason will have realized that that's not the way to go
    and will email for help or hold back, preventing more negative
    comments and ratings.

    And this is not only for responding to users, but proactively
    communicating with them.

    Perfect example: the last week or some I've had some server issue that
    has rendered one key feature in the app fairly useless. I sent a
    message via the app explaining the problem. I still got some emails
    about it asking what the deal was, but in over a week I have not
    received a single negative comment / rating due to this issue while
    I've been working it out.

    By responding to existing users I've garnered a lot of good will and,
    from my experience, absolutely helps curtail the negative comments and
    encourage positive ones. Plus, it's cathartic to lay into the haters
    and rate their rating of my app =) I've gotten a ton of emails from
    users that my responses are their favorite "feature".

    -------

    Interesting approach. In non-trivial apps it is always useful to have a
    system to notify users of something. I've had a few users changing their
    1 star comment after they mail me and I fix their problem fast.
    But most of them will not email you ever.


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  • Nathan at Dec 31, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    On Dec 30, 6:05 pm, b0b wrote:
    I cannot help to be regularly infuriated by what I see there even if I'm
    trying to take this with a grain of salt (not easy I tell you after
    pouring hours into development!)
    I've been there. We do need to take control of what we allow to
    infuriate us.

    Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Make sure you are making some good
    money from your app. That seems to take the sting off.
    I'd like to know how other developpers deal with unwarranted bad
    rating/comments.
    Here's how I would sum it up:
    1. You can respond through the description, your website, your weekly
    newsletter, or even the app. What response is appropriate for your
    users is up to you. For me, I don't want to waste the top of my
    description on responding to comments, and noone reads to the end of
    the description. I do respond to comments in weekly newsletters.
    2. You are NOT trying to reach the user who left the comment,
    reeducate him in hopes he'll change the comment. He's probably long
    gone. What you are trying to do is educate the masses with helpful
    tips.
    3. You are in this for the long haul, and you are trying to make the
    app and the user experience better for everyone, not specifically for
    the complainer.
    4. You can get a better return by maximizing good comments rather than
    minimizing bad comments (which is hard to do). Encourage the people
    who have learned your app and used it to comment, through your
    newsletter, through the app, through your facebook fan page, etc. If
    you got the same number of whiners, but got three times as many fans,
    would that change the situation?
    We have:

    - users thinking the comment system is a support forum
    In your newsletter, mention where your helpdesk has hints and a place
    to report this if anyone has seen the same problem.
    - confused users about the features of your app and making false claims
    You'll never get everyone, but reducing number of confused users is an
    activity with a good return.

    However simple you think your UI is, it can probably be improved. Its
    amazing, but just a couple of buttons have caused users confusion for
    months.

    There are tradeoffs. Making one feature more obvious can make another
    one less obvious. Make them all obvious and someone will complain
    about how cluttered your app is.

    For example, I have enough features that I've decided to keep using a
    menu even though there are people who will never make it to that menu,
    even if the opening screen shows a picture of how to open the menu.
    - users downgrading ratings if you ever make the sligthest mistake in a
    upgrade: "..bla..bla...used to work....NOW USELESS!!!"
    Don't ever make the slightest mistake in an upgrade, ie beef up your
    QA processes so that you never break existing functionality.

    But I can't exactly say i am very strong or set a good example in this
    department. On December 23rd, there was an update I just needed to get
    out, but with all the fixes and improvements, I couldn't help but feel
    there was something I missed that would break, particularly when I
    hired out some of the code. I was right! ;(
    - condescending users giving you orders: "bla..bla..., please fix!"
    Take your time. Put it in proper priority with the other hundred
    feature requests I'm sure you have.
    - users stating the obvious: "trial version is limited. WHAI IT IS NOT
    FREE????"
    No need to respond at all. These are ones I just skip right over in my
    newsletter, along with:
    "I like it but it should cost half as much. . ."
    "App XYZ is better and it is free"
    Sooner or later some one will post "This app saved me $400!". I think
    that puts it in perspective.

    There is no need to feel the least apologetic for charging for your
    app or trying to make money on it. Even if someone contacts me
    directly, I do not respond to comments about price. At most, I would
    ask "what would make this more valuable for you?".
    - users perverting stars as a tool: "...5 stars if ZZZ feature is
    implemented"
    Don't count on them coming back to update the comment when you do have
    ZZZ feature. But be sure and loudly proclaim when you do have feature
    ZZZ, in your blog, newsletter, social media, description, youtube
    video. Somebody else might very well comment.
    - haters that just hate randomly
    If they use bad language, even abbreviated, mark it as spam. Most of
    those comments will be against Market policy. You can't count on
    Google enforcing it - but you can try.

    Nathan

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  • Michael Pujos at Jan 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    On 31/12/2011 20:29, Nathan wrote:
    I've been there. We do need to take control of what we allow to
    infuriate us. Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Make sure you are
    making some good money from your app. That seems to take the sting off.
    Thanks for your insightful post with great advice.
    However simple you think your UI is, it can probably be improved. Its
    amazing, but just a couple of buttons have caused users confusion for
    months. There are tradeoffs. Making one feature more obvious can make
    another one less obvious. Make them all obvious and someone will
    complain about how cluttered your app is. For example, I have enough
    features that I've decided to keep using a menu even though there are
    people who will never make it to that menu, even if the opening screen
    shows a picture of how to open the menu.
    Very true. Recently I had a few users confused about an optional wizard
    started by the app on first run to install server software on their PC
    or Mac.
    Some thought it was mandatory to operate the app. Since then I've
    removed that wizard from first launch. Now it is less discoverable but
    potentially less confusing (as some users
    can't read if their live depend on it).
    Don't ever make the slightest mistake in an upgrade, ie beef up your
    QA processes so that you never break existing functionality. But I
    can't exactly say i am very strong or set a good example in this
    department. On December 23rd, there was an update I just needed to get
    out, but with all the fixes and improvements, I couldn't help but feel
    there was something I missed that would break, particularly when I
    hired out some of the code. I was right! ;(
    I know what you mean. Until now, every semi-major released I've made
    (including a few weeks of work) has broken something significant for
    some users, requiring one or two
    point releases within 48h. Users are absolutely merciless with regressions.



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  • John Coryat at Jan 2, 2012 at 12:32 am
    I know what you mean. Until now, every semi-major released I've made (including
    a few weeks of work) has broken something significant for some users,
    requiring one or two point releases within 48h. Users are absolutely
    merciless with regressions.

    You might consider creating a "beta" release version of your app. That's
    what we do. Before releasing a major update (about once a month) we post
    the beta to the market and ask for comments. If there's a problem, we'll
    know within a day or two and can fix it easily. People are a lot more
    forgiving of a problem when the app is a beta than a production app. Both
    the beta and production app can reside together (different package names)
    so there's little risk to the user if a problem does arise.

    On average, we get between 1000 and 5000 beta testers so by the time the
    beta goes to production, it's pretty bullet proof.

    -John Coryat

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  • Mike Wolfson at Jan 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm
    A great strategy, for beta apps (especially if it is a complicated app,
    that you expect to have growing pains with) is to create a different
    package to distribute your beta, and abandon it when you are ready for your
    actual release.

    So your beta app is released with the following package: com.dev.mybeta

    then when you are ready for production, you release your new app with
    package: com.dev.realthing

    This has the advantage that any of the 1 star reviews due to your growing
    pains won't be associated with your app (they will be abandoned with your
    old beta project).

    Obviously, you would lose all your accumulated downloads, and any good
    ratings - but more importantly this allows you to start fresh with your new
    app (which hopefully should get better reviews and ratings).

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  • Niko20 at Jan 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm
    Some comments probably have truth to them and should be considered.
    Others will be due to the user's lack of knowlege of the platform.
    It's up to you which ones to ignore. Be aware that other users don't
    always take comments as gospel either.
    On Jan 7, 7:42 am, Mike Wolfson wrote:
    A great strategy, for beta apps (especially if it is a complicated app,
    that you expect to have growing pains with) is to create a different
    package to distribute your beta, and abandon it when you are ready for your
    actual release.

    So your beta app is released with the following package: com.dev.mybeta

    then when you are ready for production, you release your new app with
    package: com.dev.realthing

    This has the advantage that any of the 1 star reviews due to your growing
    pains won't be associated with your app (they will be abandoned with your
    old beta project).

    Obviously, you would lose all your accumulated downloads, and any good
    ratings - but more importantly this allows you to start fresh with your new
    app (which hopefully should get better reviews and ratings).
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  • Brian Conrad at Jan 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    On 01/10/2012 05:54 AM, niko20 wrote:
    Some comments probably have truth to them and should be considered.
    Others will be due to the user's lack of knowlege of the platform.
    It's up to you which ones to ignore. Be aware that other users don't
    always take comments as gospel either.
    The latest negative comment on one of my apps was in German and I expect
    that no one who doesn't know German would bother translating it.
    Besides the comment revealed that the user doesn't understand the field
    the app is for.

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  • John Coryat at Jan 10, 2012 at 5:57 pm
    This is what really bothers me about the current market comment system:

    Alex on January 2, 2012 (vigor with version 3.5)

    Bad permissions. Why does this simple radar app need to be able to write to
    the SD card? DELETED!

    Obviously, this user doesn't understand what the app does, nor what the
    permissions mean. I can't respond to the comment and it just sits out there
    forever.

    I think it would be very useful if comments had to be tied to a Google+
    account. That way, we could respond and also the number of anonymous hate
    comments would drop.

    Until the comment system is amended to allow developers to respond, it will
    remain nothing more than a dumping ground for the ignorant and spiteful.

    -John Coryat

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  • William Ferguson at Jan 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm
    Even just the ability to respond privately would be of of high value.

    I'd love to be able to point out to the one star ratings why it's not
    doing what they think it should be doing. It's already there as a
    single clear sentence in the second line of the app description, but
    obviously comprehension is not a universal skill.

    It can be depressing getting such inane and often vitriolic comments
    and having no means of informing them of their misunderstanding or
    otherwise setting the record straight.

    William
    On Jan 11, 3:56 am, John Coryat wrote:
    This is what really bothers me about the current market comment system:

    Alex on January 2, 2012 (vigor with version 3.5)

    Bad permissions. Why does this simple radar app need to be able to write to
    the SD card? DELETED!

    Obviously, this user doesn't understand what the app does, nor what the
    permissions mean. I can't respond to the comment and it just sits out there
    forever.

    I think it would be very useful if comments had to be tied to a Google+
    account. That way, we could respond and also the number of anonymous hate
    comments would drop.

    Until the comment system is amended to allow developers to respond, it will
    remain nothing more than a dumping ground for the ignorant and spiteful.

    -John Coryat
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  • Tim Mensch at Jan 10, 2012 at 10:48 pm
    While I would love to address the comments of people who claim that it
    crashes after one or two levels (our platform testing on a dozen
    platforms revealed no such pattern, and I can play for dozens of levels
    with no trouble) that they had the bad luck to encounter one of the few
    platform bugs, at the same time I'm a bit worried that being able to
    send a private message directly to the user would result in "comment
    blackmail", where users could demand a free copy in exchange for
    removing bad comments.

    A public reply to a comment, on the other hand, that is displayed along
    with the comment, would allow a developer to appear responsive, while
    the current situation leaves it ambiguous (Did the bug the user is
    talking about get fixed? Does the feature still not exist?). It would be
    appropriate (best, even) if the comment reply was ALSO sent to their
    email, so they're sure to notice it, in which case they might choose to
    change their comment/rating in response. But it would be subject to
    abuse; I wouldn't necessarily rate an app badly if I knew that the app
    writer could spam me repeatedly to try to get me to change it, so it
    would need to be limited to one email per comment posted/updated.

    Also keep in mind that adding such a reply feature would necessarily
    raise the expectations of users; if someone posted a negative comment,
    and there was no response, it would be far worse than if your app's
    negative comments all had replies. As it stands, since no one can reply,
    negative comments have to be taken with a grain of salt. If you can
    reply but don't -- or more to the point, if your competitor replies but
    you don't -- then the negative comments get that much more weight. In
    that case, if you've got an app that appeals worldwide, better pull out
    Google Translate and hope it does a good job with languages you don't
    know. :)

    Tim
    On 1/10/2012 3:09 PM, William Ferguson wrote:
    Even just the ability to respond privately would be of of high value.

    I'd love to be able to point out to the one star ratings why it's not
    doing what they think it should be doing. It's already there as a
    single clear sentence in the second line of the app description, but
    obviously comprehension is not a universal skill.

    It can be depressing getting such inane and often vitriolic comments
    and having no means of informing them of their misunderstanding or
    otherwise setting the record straight.

    William

    On Jan 11, 3:56 am, John Coryatwrote:
    This is what really bothers me about the current market comment system:

    Alex on January 2, 2012 (vigor with version 3.5)

    Bad permissions. Why does this simple radar app need to be able to write to
    the SD card? DELETED!

    Obviously, this user doesn't understand what the app does, nor what the
    permissions mean. I can't respond to the comment and it just sits out there
    forever.

    I think it would be very useful if comments had to be tied to a Google+
    account. That way, we could respond and also the number of anonymous hate
    comments would drop.

    Until the comment system is amended to allow developers to respond, it will
    remain nothing more than a dumping ground for the ignorant and spiteful.

    -John Coryat
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  • Rmac at Jan 18, 2012 at 2:42 pm
    I also think comments and ratings should be aged and subsequently
    removed after a certain time period, particularly if the user
    uninstalled the app. Improvements and enhancements could have been
    made to the app that addressed previous issues. It just doesn't see
    right that comments (good and bad) are forever while the app is
    organic and changing which potentially make the oldest comments/
    ratings invalid.

    This could also reduce the spamming of an app by a competitor with 1-
    star ratings to lower the score. Those are the hardest to deal with
    because you have no avenue to stop such activity.

    On Jan 10, 4:48 pm, Tim Mensch wrote:
    While I would love to address the comments of people who claim that it
    crashes after one or two levels (our platform testing on a dozen
    platforms revealed no such pattern, and I can play for dozens of levels
    with no trouble) that they had the bad luck to encounter one of the few
    platform bugs, at the same time I'm a bit worried that being able to
    send a private message directly to the user would result in "comment
    blackmail", where users could demand a free copy in exchange for
    removing bad comments.

    A public reply to a comment, on the other hand, that is displayed along
    with the comment, would allow a developer to appear responsive, while
    the current situation leaves it ambiguous (Did the bug the user is
    talking about get fixed? Does the feature still not exist?). It would be
    appropriate (best, even) if the comment reply was ALSO sent to their
    email, so they're sure to notice it, in which case they might choose to
    change their comment/rating in response. But it would be subject to
    abuse; I wouldn't necessarily rate an app badly if I knew that the app
    writer could spam me repeatedly to try to get me to change it, so it
    would need to be limited to one email per comment posted/updated.

    Also keep in mind that adding such a reply feature would necessarily
    raise the expectations of users; if someone posted a negative comment,
    and there was no response, it would be far worse than if your app's
    negative comments all had replies. As it stands, since no one can reply,
    negative comments have to be taken with a grain of salt. If you can
    reply but don't -- or more to the point, if your competitor replies but
    you don't -- then the negative comments get that much more weight. In
    that case, if you've got an app that appeals worldwide, better pull out
    Google Translate and hope it does a good job with languages you don't
    know. :)

    Tim

    On 1/10/2012 3:09 PM, William Ferguson wrote:






    Even just the ability to respond privately would be of of high value.
    I'd love to be able to point out to the one star ratings why it's not
    doing what they think it should be doing. It's already there as a
    single clear sentence in the second line of the app description, but
    obviously comprehension is not a universal skill.
    It can be depressing getting such inane and often vitriolic comments
    and having no means of informing them of their misunderstanding or
    otherwise setting the record straight.
    William
    On Jan 11, 3:56 am, John Coryatwrote:
    This is what really bothers me about the current market comment system:
    Alex on January 2, 2012 (vigor with version 3.5)
    Bad permissions. Why does this simple radar app need to be able to write to
    the SD card? DELETED!
    Obviously, this user doesn't understand what the app does, nor what the
    permissions mean. I can't respond to the comment and it just sits out there
    forever.
    I think it would be very useful if comments had to be tied to a Google+
    account. That way, we could respond and also the number of anonymous hate
    comments would drop.
    Until the comment system is amended to allow developers to respond, it will
    remain nothing more than a dumping ground for the ignorant and spiteful.
    -John Coryat
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  • Nathan at Jan 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    On Jan 10, 9:07 am, Brian Conrad wrote:
    On 01/10/2012 05:54 AM, niko20 wrote:

    The latest negative comment on one of my apps was in German and I expect
    that no one who doesn't know German would bother translating it.
    Besides the comment revealed that the user doesn't understand the field
    the app is for.
    The Market tends to show you comments in your own language. This
    counts in your favor outside of Germany, but may turn people off in
    Germany if that's the only comment they see.

    At the same time, I'm not getting the full benefit of some happy
    comments in Italian.

    Nathan

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