“Snowball Fight!” Application Growing Quickly but Facing a Crackdown

Snowball applications have shown huge viral growth over the past few weeks and there have been increasing discussions on the Developers Forum about some rather, shall we say, “loose” interpretations of the Facebook Platform Policy helping these applications to make significant gains. The latest in question for compliance is “Snowball Fight” which has been promising more snowballs for users who rate the application at five stars. The application itself makes the following claim:

Remember, if you rate this application 5 stars you will increase the number of snowballs you can throw each day

It may be that an application with a higher review rating is given a higher allocation for sending invites and notifications to users, although there is no evidence to suggest this. More likely is a higher placement within Facebook’s application directory as compared to other applications. Regardless, if application developers have no real idea of whether giving a five star review will give real benefit or not, how are the majority of users to judge the legitimacy of the claim?

The application’s prompt to review the application highly certainly seems to have done no harm to its popularity, currently showing at 3,036,234 monthly users. (Yes, that is over three million.) And, unsurprisingly, it has an average rating of five stars with over five thousand reviews.

However, the application was disabled yesterday for “for misuse of notifications and other communication channels,” Facebook says. From the developers’ forum:

Thanks for the report. This is a violation of rule 3.1 of the Platform Policy Wiki:

In order to maintain a fair and positive ecosystem, the following rules apply to application developers.

1. Application developers cannot trade positive reviews or collude with others to post, incentivize, or otherwise “game” the posting of negative or positive reviews. Applications should stand on their own merits based on user feedback, not insider quid pro quos.

We’ll follow up.

Cheers,

Platform Developer Operations & Support


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2 Responses to ““Snowball Fight!” Application Growing Quickly but Facing a Crackdown”

  1. Jakob Keller says:

    Here’s my comment on the AllFacebook post on this topic (http://www.allfacebook.com/2008/12/enjoy-snowball-wars/):

    Also quite interesting: There are actually at least three identical “Snowball Wars” applications out there:

    - http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=4902358249
    - http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=8476307935
    - http://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=38273254549

    This could be the key to the surprising growth of “Snowball Wars”. Maybe the application developer (who is it anyways?) uses this “cloning” strategy to circumvent Facebook’s limits on viral channel usage.

    I’m not certain how this is done in detail, but I suspect that users are sent back and forth between these applications without them realizing. I received (identical) notifications from all three of the applications listed above and was asked to authorize all of them. That’s what eventually made me wonder. But who else pays attention to the occasional request to authorize an application? Especially when you think that you’ve already done so.

    This is speculative, but I believe that having a user authorize several of your applications gives you the ability to use Facebook’s viral channels more extensively. You may be able to use some of the applications specifically to send out notifications, some of which might be considered spam. Or you can think of strategies to “load-balance” viral-channel usage. Does this make sense? Or are there other explanations for “application cloning”?

    Any comments on that? Do you know any other applications that follow similar strategies? I’d be interested to learn more on this topic!

  2. chris says:

    interesting…. i fucking hate this application. A couple of days ago, I got notiifcations from two of my friends who I haven’t talked to in close to 8 years. I reluctantly allowed this piece of lecherous shit snowball application and virtually threw snowballs back at them. Well, I happened to click ‘see all’ for my notifications today and discovered that.. without my knowledge or consent.. this fucking snowball app sent notifications to every goddamn one of my friends that say “<>> throw a snowball at you on Snowball War!. Throw one back and join the biggest snowball fight on Facebook!”.. The developer/s off this app should swallow a dozen razor blades each and chase them down with a nice bottle of drano.

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