Are Alexa’s policies applied to everyone equally?

Amazon Alexa market Analysis

We recently submitted a skill to Devpost’s ISP competition. Because I suspect skill description plays an undervalued role in marketplace discoverability, I took a look at successful skills to inform what we wrote. One of the classic lines in the skill description is:

Please leave a 5-star review if you love this skill, or send us an email with your suggestions at EMAIL. Your 5-star reviews encourage us to keep making more great skills, thanks!

This exact formulation is present in at least 1919 skills, including the very popular YouVersion Bible. Speaking more broadly, at least 2872 skills make mention of a 5-star rating in their description, including 4 of the most popular skills on the marketplace:

Evidently, adding this bit of text to your skill description is very common and even seems like best practice. So we added something similar to our description (“Make sure to leave a 5-star review if you love this skill and tell us how we helped you live a happier life. Your feedback encourages us to continue making great skills. Thank you!”).

This morning, I received an email from Amazon that our skill failed certification because:

We do not allow skills to request positive reviews or 5-star ratings from users. Skills may only request reviews in a neutral manner. Please remove this language from the request for review to comply with our Content Guidelines (Skills may encourage customers to review or rate their skill, but may not explicitly request that users leave a positive rating of the skill.)

I have no issue with this rule, but I find it surprising that they are only applying it to new skills. It’s unfortunate for new skill developers that they need to follow strict guidelines that didn’t restrict older, more established skills. This is only one example that I’ve noticed, but I’m sure there are many other examples. For instance, a new sound skill would not only be disadvantaged by being new, but also by having less access to “hacks” to grow their user base. By not applying these rules retroactively, Amazon is making it harder for new, and perhaps innovative, skills to reach a broad audience.

Applying these new rules to old skills would be a great opportunity to remove abandoned skills from the marketplace, reduce clutter, and ensure that all skills have a consistent level of quality, or at the very least, all obey the same rules. I realize it would be resource intensive to re-certify every skill, but if there’s one company who can afford it, it’s Amazon.

Do you think Amazon should retroactively apply new rules or should new rules only apply to new skills?

1 thought on “Are Alexa’s policies applied to everyone equally?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *