2 more Facebook Platform updates this week making it harder for developers

A couple more updates to report tonight…

1. New invitation limits much lower than expected

Facebook tonight announced that the new invitation allocation limits will be going into effect in the next two days. While this change was announced last week, new information we’re getting from developers points to this update being much harder on developers than previously expected.

When first reporting the change in app invitation limits, I said, “Assuming Facebook’s invitation limits are not on average significantly lower than the current fixed limit of 20, I imagine developers of quality applications will accept these changes.” It now looks like that first assumption is not the case.  Instead of the average number of allowed invitations per user per day staying at about 20 for most, most developers are seeing allocation limits of 8-12 invitations per day, with the highest reported number at just over 20. (What are your limits looking like?)

This change will likely have a big impact on the growth of applications in general – most significantly on those that rely heavily on invitations/requests. The most common complaint I’m hearing from top developers is that while this change definitely curtails the ability of low quality apps to spread, it doesn’t allow high quality apps enough channel access to thrive – instead, it punishes everyone. Hopefully, this change is just a stepping stone to a more optimized solution that offers greater reward for applications that foster high quality, high conversion invitations.

2. More prominent links for disabling application emails

Facebook also announced tonight that the application email template has changed such that the link that allows users to disable further application email contact now appears at the top of all application emails, instead of at the bottom like it currently does.

While not as significant a change as lower than expected invitation limits, this change will inevitably lead to a higher email unsubscribe rate than before, and for applications delivering quality emails, a poorer user experience.

Ultimately, Facebook faces a very difficult challenge in tweaking the Platform to always align its “user experience” priorities with developer priorities, when the behaviors demonstrated by app developers vary so widely. However, this week’s changes seem to have developers a little more worried than usual.

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12 Responses to “2 more Facebook Platform updates this week making it harder for developers”

  1. Mark says:

    Applications are killing Facebook–this is a very smart move.

  2. Raj Lalwani says:

    The new Facebook restrictions on invitations and notifications are not only bad for apps which are good citizens, they are also bad for Facebook users! For example, we are not able to send notifications to recipients if a user writes a comment on their SocialCalendar. There are two problems with this – Facebook is restricting their own users (not just app developers) and the daily limit applies to the sender even if we have never sent even one message to the recipient.

    I hope common sense prevails and Facebook does not throw out the baby with the bathwater.


  3. ROb says:

    This is not Facebook’s fault. It is the fault of all of the developers who took Facebook as their opportunity to start spamming in the old ways of the early internet.

    Spam is a massive problem for Facebook and they are wise to stop it as quickly as they can.

  4. Matt says:

    what the hell are these “top developers” and a “quality applications” you talk about? there are over 17000 applications, 99.99% of them are crap/spam, 0.01% are novelty gimmicks.

  5. A gentle criticism of F8 — Alec Saunders .LOG says:

    [...] Facebook reports on the recent changes made by Facebook in how developers can use "requests" and "notifi….  In principle, these are welcome changes designed to combat invitation spam, and when [...]

  6. dave says:

    you sais, “this change will inevitably lead to a higher email unsubscribe rate than before, and for applications delivering quality emails, a poorer user experience.”

    quality emails? you obviously don’t understand the app as a user, only a maker of things…getting off a list shouldn’t require tricks and excessive steps…it will not result in a poorer user experience, you must be kidding…

  7. ralph says:

    top developers should be treating the user as an educated user and making invites difficult to get.

    look at gmail, when it first came out people were dying to get an invite to gmail, and people only got 10 a day at first and gmail didn’t ask users to invite as many people as they could, only if they wanted to

    now contrast that to the last facebook app that i received, where i had to invite AT LEAST 20 friends to the application JUST so i could find out the score of whatever test i had taken.

    i used to think an app invite was because my friend thought it was a nifty app that i would be interested in. now people are just clicking my name randomly to fill up a queue just so the app can tell them how cool they are. it’s absolutely absurd.

  8. Roundup: iPhone SKD rumors, Bischof at Meritech, and more » VentureBeat says:

    [...] Meanwhile, Facebook continues to clamp down on spammy applications, to try to force application developers to only create apps that are good for users. It is reducing the number of invites a user can send friends for a given application, and it is making a “stop email” link appear above email messages sent via an application. More at Inside Facebook. [...]

  9. What’s Forgotten With New Changes to Invites | Lonely CEO Media - Facebook Application Development and Consulting says:

    [...] changes to invitations have sparked some interesting points (mainly that Facebook is punishing developers). We’ve already said that Facebook is doing what Ben Bernanke should- curbing inflation for [...]

  10. Dan Brown says:

    I was worried when i first checked this, so i went to my main app and checked the invite limit. It was 5.
    Problem? I’m beginning to think not. My app ‘rewards’ invites, by letting users increase their points for every invite they make, but i would much rather this limit of 5 invites meant they thought about their friends who will actually ADD the app as a result of the invite and not just go and click everyone willy nilly.

  11. Virtual Goods Now Funding Most Development on the Facebook Platform says:

    [...] 2007 will be remembered as the “wild west” for Facebook’s powerful application viral channels, and 2008 was the year that Facebook [...]

  12. Facebook Continues To Constrict Developers - AllFacebook says:

    [...] think much of this announcement and figured it was just a standard Facebook update. According to Justin Smith, most developers have now been limited to 8-12 invitations per day. It appears that more [...]

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