Yahoo News Digest Reviews Get A Boost From Yahoo Employees, Cheerleaders

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Are You There, TechCrunch? It’s Me, Jon

Some folks out there really, really, really like any app that Yahoo puts out. At least, that’s the picture we get from looking at the recent reviews of its Yahoo News Digest app, introduced yesterday.

The app is currently flying high in the charts, and features a 4.5 star rating with 282 massively positive reviews. Taking a closer look at the review listings, many of the people leaving positive notes about the app appear to make a very strong habit of reviewing Yahoo apps, and only Yahoo apps.

Some of them have only ever reviewed Yahoo News Digest, and others have only reviewed the catalog of internal products and recent acquisitions like Tumblr.

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Some of the Yahoo employees leaving reviews on the app appear to (from simple user name identification) include Jonathan Raspaud, a Mobility Architect at Yahoo and Yahoo India employee Rahul Aneja. There are most likely others.

John Hermann and Charlie Warzel at Buzzfeed also note that new Yahoo Tech runner David Pogue and Summly acquisition Nick D’Alosio were certainly aware of the very positive reviews. And that awareness raises questions about how easy it was for them to skip over mentioning the origins of many of those reviews in their ‘interview’ today.

Is this a crime? No, not really. If I was part of a two-man company I’m sure that both my co-founder and I would be calling everyone we know to rate our app. But Yahoo is a big firm, with over 12,000 employees. And, as Hermann notes, a flood of positive ratings from a large company like this could certainly tip the scales in favor of one product over another.

And, in fact, this is not the first time we’ve seen this kind of behavior from Yahoo employees on apps. In May of 2012 it released its Axis browsing tool, which met with a fairly poor reception in the press. But the reviews were surprisingly positive. When a deeper look was taken, sure enough, Yahoo employees were weighing in enthusiastically.

We’ve reached out to Yahoo for comment, but it has already issued a statement to Buzzfeed saying that its employees ‘were not instructed to write reviews’. Yahoo-er Raspaud’s review of the Yahoo News Digest app? “Perfect.”

Update: A Yahoo spokesperson has also told TechCrunch that it does not ask its employees to write reviews, and chalked it up to ‘a case of enthusiasm’.

Image Credit: Eric Hayes