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Fake review fraud, where to draw the line?

02-14-2012, 08:38 PM
#1
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 69
Fake review fraud, where to draw the line?

So I've been reading up on this, and the apple agreement does clearly state that posting fake reviews is forbidden as it manipulates the appstore. That makes total sense.

But what about this recent Tiny Tower vs. Dream Heights thing.

http://www.insidemobileapps.com/2012...store-reviews/

"For his part, Ian Marsh has been subtly encouraging NimbleBit fans to leave poor reviews for the app and pointing out some of the Dream Heights’ few favorable reviews were written by Zynga employees."

Isn't that also borderline fraudulent? Fraudulent for two reasons by firstly inciting users to rate an app poorly which Nimblebit is encouraging and second by countering it by posting fake reviews by vested parties in this case Zynga employees?
02-14-2012, 11:58 PM
#2
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,922
Quote:
Originally Posted by lolzappan View Post
So I've been reading up on this, and the apple agreement does clearly state that posting fake reviews is forbidden as it manipulates the appstore. That makes total sense.

But what about this recent Tiny Tower vs. Dream Heights thing.

http://www.insidemobileapps.com/2012...store-reviews/

"For his part, Ian Marsh has been subtly encouraging NimbleBit fans to leave poor reviews for the app and pointing out some of the Dream Heights’ few favorable reviews were written by Zynga employees."

Isn't that also borderline fraudulent? Fraudulent for two reasons by firstly inciting users to rate an app poorly which Nimblebit is encouraging and second by countering it by posting fake reviews by vested parties in this case Zynga employees?
It's two totally different things. Ultimately when a person posts a review it is their responsibility. Nimblebit may suggest all they want but the people will ultimately make the decision to act out of their own accord. There is no manipulation on Nimblebits part, because at the end of the day those who intended on writing a poor review on Zygna's Dream Heights app were going to do so regardless; implicitly suggested or not!


Now on the other hand we have Zygna who knowingly disregard the terms and pool their employees to post 5* positive reviews... That is again totally of their own accord, because they know the terms, they are not demanded to do so, I am sure no employee would lose their job if they did not if it was suggested, yet they still knowingly and intentionally posted reviews to manipulate the review system despite knowing the terms and it's consequences.


I could understand your argument if it were the Nimblenut guys posting negative reviews themselves, but it is not, it is the community. Meanwhile Zygna's employee's and even their top execs are posting reviews of their own game (a no-no by most standards just in general, not just specifically in this case)! Your argument doesn't stand here, it has no legs...

Last edited by Bool Zero; 02-15-2012 at 12:02 AM.

02-15-2012, 10:14 AM
#3
But does it specifically say in the terms that you cannot give yourself a review of your own game? How about if you just work for the company, you are not able to give your opinion in the form of a review either? I personally wouldn't consider it manipulating when each user is posting just 1 review.

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02-15-2012, 10:17 AM
#4
Joined: Jan 2012
Posts: 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by 30BelowStudios View Post

Isn't that also borderline fraudulent? Fraudulent for two reasons by firstly inciting users to rate an app poorly which Nimblebit is encouraging and second by countering it by posting fake reviews by vested parties in this case Zynga employees?
No. The reviews left by individuals are not "fake".

The reviews are no more fraudulent than a review left after I say to you "Hey, I made a great game. Go review it".

At the end of the day the person doing the reviewing is solely responsible and in control of the content posted.

Last edited by 348395; 02-15-2012 at 10:22 AM.
02-15-2012, 07:53 PM
#5
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by 30BelowStudios View Post
But does it specifically say in the terms that you cannot give yourself a review of your own game? How about if you just work for the company, you are not able to give your opinion in the form of a review either? I personally wouldn't consider it manipulating when each user is posting just 1 review.
What the Apple agreement says is this:

You will not, directly or indirectly, commit any act intended to interfere with the Apple Software
or related services, the intent of this Agreement, or Apple’s business practices including, but not
limited to, taking actions that may hinder the performance or intended use of the App Store,
VPP/B2B Program Site, or the Program (e.g., submitting fraudulent reviews of Your own
Application or any third party application
, choosing a name for Your Application that is
substantially similar to the name of a third party application in order to create consumer
confusion, or squatting on application names to prevent legitimate third party use); and


So I kinda don't know, not that I have any decision making pull at all but inciting people to give someone a negative review appears to be an indirect attempt to skew the reviews of in this case a competitive app.

I suppose staff making reviews is ok unless the staff have been made to do so right? I mean making "fraudulent reviews of Your own Application" Zynga employs thousands of employees? What if everyone one of them rated the app highly on a request by Zynga, is that fraud?
02-16-2012, 02:54 AM
#6
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by reesetewy View Post
How about if you just work for the company, you are not able to give your opinion in the form of a review either?
I'm guessing here but the fine line as to when it's manipulating, vs. when it's not is defined in the intention of the action strictly using the language as written in the agreement. So if there is no act intended to interfere then it should be ok.

If a staff voluntarily gives a good review, or perhaps even if you are the creator of the game and you think it's great that might be a-ok. The latter might be a grey line depending on how strict you want to be but it doesn't say you cannot review your own app.

But where I think it would be an act intended to interfere is if a company said everyone give our own app a good review, whether you like it or not? That looks like it is with an intent to manipulate as it looks like with the case of Zynga.
02-16-2012, 04:22 AM
#7
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Munich
Posts: 1,137
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The issue here is over the meaning of "fraudulent."

The very fact that the terms qualified "review of your own game" with "fraudulent" suggests to me that, by itself, the act of reviewing your own game is not in violation of the terms (but again, this is open to interpretation).

Since fraud requires deception/misrepresentation, the argument would be "what IS fraud?" If you left a review that said "I'm the developer and I'm proud of my game," I'd wager that there is no deception there (hopefully you ARE proud). An argument could be made that there is "deception" on the meta-level (someone looking at total game score and not individual reviews), but that would be a tougher argument to make, and would mean that NO review by the developer would be legitimate.

If you state in your review "It works on my X device with Y operating system" when in fact that device is unsupported, then you'd be on the other side of the fraud line.

The Zynga employees posting reviews are not "hiding" their real names (TA outed some with a simple linkedin search), and I doubt their iTunes accounts were created with the intent for fraudulent use. Since I think most people would be fine if the employees all said "I work and Zynga and....", it seems the only real issue here to me is one of omission.

As it stands, this seems to me like no more sinister than a developer double-posting or resurrecting his thread on the forums for more exposure / bumps.

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Last edited by Nullroar; 02-16-2012 at 04:24 AM.
02-16-2012, 08:26 AM
#8
Joined: Feb 2012
Posts: 11
How strict has apple been on this in the past, does anybody know or have experiences to share?

I think it's hard to prove but if company employees rated their owns 5 stars isn't that almost their duty? Imagine if you rated your own company applications 1 star? That would not be very nice would it?