In order to bring the global spread of COVID-19 under control, humanity is going to need to come up with some inventive solutions that may very well come from unexpected sources. So we’ll take it as a very good sign that children in Wuhan, China figured out a way to potentially dodge their homework with a bit of tech knowledge and a surprisingly large crowdsourced effort. At the very least, we know that somewhere out there in too-cool-for-school land, Ferris Bueller is smiling like the Cheshire Cat.
Mashable picked up on the Wuhan kids’ attempt at shirking their homework, which was originally mentioned in a report by Wang Xiuying in the London Review of Books. In the report, Xiuying discusses the prevailing mood in Wuhan, which is, needless to say, often times desperate and dark. But kids being kids, no matter where they are in the world, or what global crisis adults are facing, is still a silver lining. Especially because they’ve shown us another example of what brings people together: a hatred for homework.
The Wuhan schoolchildren managed their little devious dodge through a crafty plan to dispell a particular app meant deliver their homework. The app, DingTalk, was developed by Alibaba, and seems to perform a Slack-like function. According to the pitch video for DingTalk (bottom), it is an “all-in-one workplace” that allows users to do things like create chat groups, assign tasks, and partake in conference calls.
The DingTalk user interface. DingTalk
The schoolchildren were able to push back against DingTalk by attempting to have it kicked out of the App Store. Xiuying’s report notes that the kids knew that if DingTalk received enough one-star ratings, it would be kicked out of the App Store. Knowing this, they subsequently inundated the app with “tens of thousands” of one-star reviews. This caused its rating to drop from 4.9 stars to 1.4 overnight.
It’s unclear from Xiunying’s report, or any other source we could find, whether or not the kids’ effort actually managed to shut off the app’s availability. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like the app store ever actually removed it. Xiunying does say that “The app… had to beg for mercy on social media”. And apparently at one point, the company wrote “I’m only five years old myself, please don’t kill me”. Today also pointed out that a music video has been made as a clarion call for preserving DingTalk. Its lyrics, in part, read: “I know guys, you were not expecting such a productive holiday…. [but please] don’t give me any more one-star ratings. I was chosen for this job and there is not much I can do about it.”
What do you think about these Wuhan schoolchildren and their collective effort to avoid homework like it were COVID-19 itself? Would you have partaken in the shenanigans back in your K-12 days? Or were you one of those perfect students who would’ve given DingTalk a five-star review? Your homework is to write about your opinions in the comments!