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Alibaba's DingTalk gets bad grades from China's stuck-at-home students

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Alibaba's DingTalk gets bad grades from China's stuck-at-home students

FILE PHOTO: Employees work at DingTalk office, an offshoot of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, in Hangzhou

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Alibaba Group's <BABA.N> communication app DingTalk has begged China's school students to stop venting anger on the software after they gave it poor grades when made to use it to attend online classes.

Millions of Chinese are stuck at home because of the coronavirus outbreak, which has killed 1,770 so far in mainland China.

Authorities shut schools until at least the end of February to try to stop the spread of the virus and many school students were hoping for an extended holiday.

So they were less than grateful when DingTalk, originally designed for China's white collar workers, adapted to the virus outbreak by offering the service to help educate primary and middle school teenagers.

Its app, with new features such as homework grading, the ability to livestream classes and watch video replays, has received a flood of one-star reviews from disgruntled pupils.

On Monday, DingTalk had a score of 2.5 out of 5 stars, despite being No.1 in the business category.

"I know, young heroes, you were not expecting such a fulfilling holiday, it's difficult for you," it said in a music video with cartoons posted on its verified Weibo late on Sunday

"Young heroes please spare my life, you all are my papas," it said.

Alibaba did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for further comment.

Many of the roughly 800,000 reviews on the app on the Apple store platform criticised DingTalk for spoiling their plans for a rest.

"My holidays! I love DingTalk, say no more, there is one star for you," said one review.

"Thank you so much DingTalk for making me feel the warmth of coronavirus even though I am not in Wuhan," read another one-star verdict. "I am giving you five-stars, but in instalments."

The five-year-old company, competes with Tencent Holding's <0700.HK> WeChat Work and Bytedance's Lark in the office tools space. These apps have seen a surge in downloads in recent weeks as many firms also rolled out work-from-home policies.


(Reporting by Pei Li and Josh Horwitz; editing by Barbara Lewis)