A few days ago, VLC – the popular video app for playing odd Codecs – made its appearance on Windows Phone for the public. At the time, it was not clear if this was the official release or the public beta of the app. As it turns out, it was the latter. As such, some negative user complaints came in, at times unfairly targeting the developer, Thomas Nigro.
What followed next was an interesting – and disturbing – back and forth between VideoLAN (who own the VLC property) and the Windows Phone community. Although this incident is technically old news, the point illustrated is very relevant.
VideoLAN takes offense
In a series of tersely worded tweets, VideoLAN took to Twitter to berate Windows Phone users over their behavior:
"Dear WP community, If you want applications, maybe you should stop acting like this…This amount of lack of respect is unbelievable...Especially against a young open source developer, who owes you nothing."
The "this" in the above exchange was referring to a negative review of the beta app that called out Nigro for being "very slow".
Following that exchange, some users took VideoLAN to task for what they thought was an overreaction. Indeed, in one conversation (since deleted) VideoLAN even threatened to pull the app (and the project) all together, while saying some not so nice things about Windows Phone fans.
Although I think VideoLAN was overreacting to the criticism, I do get their point. Windows Phones fans have shifted from the 'scrappy newcomer struggling against the world' to the 'curmudgeonly old guy who hates everything'.
And I get that. Windows Phone fans have been kicked around the block for years now, seemingly getting shunned left and right by companies, manufacturers, and even the carriers. This, despite the fact that many people like Windows Phones and the experience.
Still, the behavior and tone lately has been rather nihilistic, especially around such apps as VLC. The amount of haranguing we receive about an app we have nothing to do with is, well, it's impressive (or maybe de -pressive).
VideoLAN does have a point though. You can look right at the comments section on this site for such behavior. How many times to people mash letters on the keyboard in an infantile gesture to share with the world that the app in question "should be free"? I have spoken to devs who would rather not interact with some of you in comments due to your aggressive nature. People don't want to pay anything, people want games to work on their budget phone from two years ago, and developers should damn any platform restrictions that Microsoft has put in their way.
Of course, VideoLAN's reaction was not right either, in fact, it was downright poor, but I get the feeling. Thomas Nigro is a young, talented dev, often working against the restrictions of the platform. In other words, a lot of this is not his fault, but rather Microsoft's for not making it easy. You can ask quite a few developers about such situations, but does it matter when people won't even pay for something?
One thing you can do is leave proper reviews for apps in the Store with constructive criticism (if warranted). No one wants to hear you can't afford an app, so that does not count, sorry. Also, if you see a trashy review, simply take a second to respond appropriately under the 'Was this helpful?' feedback area. You are the best police against such lousy behavior, whether it is here in comments or in app reviews.
Finally, I'm not sure what the long-term answer is here. I just know that both sides are acting poorly and in the end, this platform will only suffer for it. The level of negativity needs to end, but it is certainly not an easy ride to stop.
Update: Thomas Nigro, the developer behind VLC on Windows Phone, has shared his thoughts in comments about the situation.
What say you? Sound off in comments on what you think of this situation and the user behavior in general.
Thanks, Trevor M., for the tip!