With 100,000+ apps on the App Store and many review sites and YouTube channels covering these games it is hard for both developers and readers a like to find which sites are trustworthy and honest. While the majority of us are fair sites a few paint the rest of us in a bad light with paid reviews and dodgy dealings. That is where Got O.A.T.S- The Organization for App Testing Standards steps in.
For those who have no idea what this group is, it is basically a group of iPhone related sites that are set on improving the ethics of sites and lead in example. The sites that join up take an Oath stating to follow certain rules:
1) WE PLEDGE to never mix business with editorial. We reject all forms of paid reviews, including "express reviewing" fees. Advertising on an O.A.T.S. site will have no bearing whatsoever on whether we decide to review an App, or on the nature of coverage we give it, when and if we do;
2) WE PLEDGE to clearly mark all advertisements as such on our sites;
3) WE PLEDGE to insure that each of our reviews is as thorough, accurate, honest, and fully informed as possible;
4) WE PLEDGE to promptly correct all factual mistakes in our reviews, and to post an Editor's Note when we do;
5) WE PLEDGE that all editorial work appearing on our sites is our own;
6) WE PLEDGE to allow disagreement, dissent, and complaint through reader commentary, and to never censor it;
7) WE PLEDGE that all App reviews will follow the same process, whether a particular App is obtained via promo code, purchase, or ad-hoc distribution;
8) WE PLEDGE that site promotions or contests involving promo code giveaways will not influence any review in any way.
I initially joined GotOATS around a month after it was started by 148apps.com and SlideToPlay.com. What attracted me to it was a few reasons. One was being known as part of a group that were respected and being known as an accredited site that was an ethical site. The other thing that brought me to sign up was being part of this prestigious group along with some of the much larger sites that I looked up to.
I soon found out that there was more to the job than just being accepted into the group. Once in the group each and every one of the sites contributes to make the iPhone gaming sector a better place to work in. Everyone is regularly sharing ideas and notifying each other of dodgy sites and developers that are putting us in a bad light. We also try to counter this by sharing the good work of sites and commending those who are doing good things for our community.
Being a free-hosted blog I feel particularly lucky to be accepted into this group. Not only does it make me feel like I am doing the right thing with my reviewing but it sheds limelight on the smaller sites like myself that you can be rewarded for your efforts and good work.
I strive to keep my part of the bargain by following the Oath presented to me upon joining. I endeavor to write reviews which are fair and unbiased to the games and give all the information needed to the reader so they can make their own mind up on the game. I also do not let any advertising or offers of cash affect whether a game gets reviewed or not, rejecting any offers of cash for reviews or reviews to jump the queue.
Now that I have been with the GotOATS community for over half a year I have a strong sense of loyalty to the group and feel proud to call myself a member. This post is just a contribution to the effort we are all putting in too make this place a more ethical and trusting place for the readers to be in. During this month there will be more OATS members writing up on this topic and their approach to the OATS group.
I would also like to thank Jeff from 148Apps, Steve from SlideToPlay, Nigel from TouchGen and James from TheAppEra for founding this group and to all the other member sites for their contributions to help not only myself but other sites improve their ethics and the overall condition of iPhone sites.
Check out the other Got O.A.T.S posts from fellow members:
Just Another iPhone Blog