MySpace Mondays: You Want Your Applications To Be Viral? Design Great Applications.

This is more or less in response to comments about the limits application developers are having to deal with in building for the MySpace platform. As outlined in a few posts that were out there during my vacation, some of the application developers are providing “incentives” to users to spam their friends through bulletins and the like. Seriously, it’s annoying, because some of the inboxes of accounts I have for testing over there are filling up.

After talking with some of the MySpace platform folks (I’ve designed some MySpace Applications, and was/still am involved with the developer platform yo a certain extent), it’s dramatically increased the amount of mail being sent through the system, and end users are complaining in a big way, because there’s been no stop to the torrent of messages from applications.

This is a message to the developers: if you want the applications to be viral, build great applications that people want to use and spread.

Buy Your Friends is a good application, but it was (and still is) abusing the system. Still, it’s fun, and they’ve done a good job spreading it. Offering enticements to get more people to install it is not the best way to play fair.

Somehow complaining about the rules seems pointless because MySpace’s objective is extend the platform, not extend the spam. They’re looking for developers to come up with great ideas that will turn MySpace into a better site and, in turn, generate more ad views. The whole point is to keep users there longer, and if it’s done with some of these applications, the objective has been satisfied. If there is an application that provides real value, they’ll give you a bit of leeway.

So far, it’s worked. They’re telling me that traffic is way up. You can also bet they’re also working on ways to share the wealth (I would at least hope so) so the application developers will go beyond the usual “poke me” applications and build something better. I know we’re working on better applications.

But somehow complaining about the rules being too restrictive because you are trying to take advantage of the system is the same as saying to a police officer, “hey, I know I was speeding, but everyone is doing it.” It’s not a valid complaint.

The point: Don’t abuse it if you want it around for a while, especially if it’s a free service.