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Dev Booted From App Store For Inflated Reviews 178

Posted by timothy
from the built-in-garbage-collection dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Molinker, a Chinese developer of iPhone apps, has been booted from the App Store after being caught trying to game the App Store review system. It seems reviewers were being paid off with free apps in return for 5-star reviews." This means the removal of over 1000 apps, described in this article as "knock-offs of existing applications."
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Dev Booted From App Store For Inflated Reviews

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  • At The Risk (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:01PM (#30366976)

    At the risk of sounding perhaps trollish or inflammatory, or even over-generalizing, I have to ask why, over the course of the past couple of decades or so, perhaps longer, have the terms "China" and "cheap knockoffs" become synonymous?

    Out of curiosity I headed over to this list of Chinese inventions [wikipedia.org] and I am surprised to see the numerous inventions by, and subsequent contributions to, humanity by the Chinese people.

    It seems to me that they are quite capable of making new products and contributing new ideas, so why do they not do so? Why are there repeated examples of this sort of blatant copying? Can anyone clue me in here?

  • Which scam? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:01PM (#30366980)

    This scam was so effective that the applications regularly rose to the tops of charts. One, called ColorMagic, even made it into the Staff Favorites section of the store (which brings some doubt as to whether these are actually staff picks at all).

    Suggests? What it shows is that either "staff favorites" is noting more than an advertising section called "staff favorites" under false pretenses (grounds for a law suite anybody?) OR that the apple staff participated in the scam.

  • by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:04PM (#30367028)

    Ok, so they were INCREDIBLY stupid in how they went about their astro-turfing. They literally had tons and tons of people review ONLY their apps and always give them 5 stars, it was only a matter of time till it was detected.

    But it only was because an outside party drew Apple's attention to it.

    Why didn't Apple themselves have some data mining in place to detect reviewer's "unusual" rating patterns (already the sheer number of reviews per reviewer should have raised flags)

  • by Czmyt (689032) <steve@czmyt.com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:17PM (#30367196) Homepage
    This hardly seems like news, except that Apple messed up by allowing people who received free, promotional copies of paid apps to rate those apps. If Apple were to prohibit that and also remove any such ratings then that should solve the problem.
  • Clear Cut (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reason58 (775044) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:21PM (#30367246)
    I guess they better remove all the apps that have sales, as they are discounting themselves in order to gain positive reviews! Or is that somehow different because they aren't from China?
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @01:41PM (#30367486) Homepage Journal

    A Sybil Attack [wikipedia.org] is from multiple if not more personalities (sockpuppets of the same person or group) that use the reputation system to gave favor in one person's or group's favor.

    Any good security system should have a countermeasure for detecting a Sybil Attack, and it looks like Apple's App Store just implemented such a thing to detect more Sybil Attacks in the future.

    Yes it is also Astro Turfing. Now if the Sybil Attacks rated other applications at random ratings, they might have gone undetected and passed off as just another user. But because they only rate one group of applications, they can be detected and thus action be taken by Apple et al to deal with it.

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:13PM (#30367968)

    This "wasteland" also kept the Western culture alive when Rome was sacked. The Bible, Greek/Roman myths, astronomy, Plato, and many other core pieces of Western history were saved by the same people.

    I just wonder what has changed, causing this devolution from arguably the most scholarly place in the world today to the anarchy and chaos of today.

    If it wasn't for Persia, Europe would likely have had a much weaker Renaissance period with little scholarly info to base on (even stuff like Ptolemy's epicycles eventually led to Kepler's ellipses.), or perhaps no Renaissance at all, instead the wars between the dukedoms would have gone on until some outside empire would have formed and would have had easy pickings.

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MontyApollo (849862) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:28PM (#30368182)

    The likely, but not Slashdot-friendly answer is the lack of IP protection in China.

    Someone commented on here before that it is an innovation wasteland in China because they know everybody would immediately copy anything they created.

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@gd[ ]aud.net ['arg' in gap]> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:31PM (#30368242) Homepage

    I just wonder what has changed, causing this devolution from arguably the most scholarly place in the world today to the anarchy and chaos of today.

    The mongol invasion caused it. When they conquered Baghdad, then the main and most scholarly city, they razed the libraries. Their culture never recovered afterward.

  • by djupedal (584558) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:32PM (#30368256)
    One of the key elements for developers in the app store is visibility....and that means it is a numbers game.

    Up until recently, each time an app is updated, it goes back to the top of the 'recently added' list, gaining fresh visibility and usually bumping sales of any other apps in the same vein by the same dev.

    Apple has long told devs to update their apps at least once a month as customers interpret this as a sign of quality. Update an app...get back to the top of the list and your other apps get a corresponding boost.

    One month ago, Apple changed that process to only allow brand new apps (v1.0) to go onto the recently released list...boom...updated apps flounder back where they last landed. This dev with over 1100 apps figured out immediately that in order to keep the flow going in terms of visibility meant that new apps had to flood in, with less focus on updates...the easiest way was to start kicking out more clones. The behind-the-scenes efforts meant not bothering with updates and a shift of labor towards new apps. Same 'visibility' effect....different approach. The change encouraged cloning by dishonest devs and discouraged incremental updates that help to grow quality for the honest devs.

    Apple plugged one hole, and left another one open. Honest dealing devs lost a tool that prompted them to improve their apps over time while shady devs just moved to the other side of the street.

    I sent my comments to Apple and the response was that they are aware and working on the issue. I told them they need to spend less time on blanket approaches that affect good and bad at the same time and more on reviewing individual apps for specific criteria so that good devs don't get mowed down in the process.
  • Actually not true (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @02:52PM (#30368582)

    I cannot find a link now, but I'm pretty sure I've seen a report of some app rejected because the category was too full and the app didn't really offer anything new. It must have been a pretty extreme case because the flow of Twitter clients continues unabated, but they do at least seem to consider that aspect.

  • by Mister Whirly (964219) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @03:31PM (#30369120) Homepage

    every single rejection that was hyped this year had real issues with it that Apple addressed with the developer and the dev chose to ignore

    Sorry, but I fail to believe "every single rejection" followed this pattern. Do you even know how many apps were rejected? And do you honestly believe everything you read in a blog? What about the baby shaking app? You are telling me that was rejected for technical reasons?

  • Re:At The Risk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GlassHeart (579618) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @05:08PM (#30370316) Journal
    I disagree. I think China is simply undergoing a stage of development exactly like Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan before it had gone through. I'm fairly certain that China will outgrow this and begin to build its own world-class brands over the next few decades, and also fairly certain that another country will take up the world's demand for cheap knock-off products when that starts to happen. It's called "moving up the value chain."
  • Re:At The Risk (Score:4, Interesting)

    by icegreentea (974342) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @05:30PM (#30370596)
    Because cheap knock offs seems to make us a shit load of money right now.

    Ok, I am a Chinese-Canadian, and among my immediate circle of Chinese-Canadian friends, we are share similar feelings in regards to Chinese ingenuity and such. We're all proud of our previous contributions to human discovery. My parents harped on and on about that when I was a kid. We are all sure that the Chinese people are still very smart. For example, Taiwan for all intents and purposes is Chinese. Identical culture, identical language, pretty much the same education based mindset. We (my parents are from Taiwan) managed create all sorts of high quality products. Chip foundries? Like half of them are in Taiwan. Asus? Taiwan. Hell, you want another example? ATI was founded by a Hong Kong immigrant.

    At the same time, we know that we make retarded amounts of money selling cheap ass products. Why? Cause you stupid North Americans (including myself) want cheap ass products. I'm still talking about Taiwan here. Basically, North American shipped so much of their manufacturing base to Asia that any given Asian country is likely to be selling high quality 'brand name' products and crappy knockoffs at the same time. For example, nearly all Underarmor is made is Thailand. Thailand also exports a ridiculous fraction of cheap tourist shirts to North American cities.

    What I guess I'm trying to say is that, Asia is connected to cheap knock offs cause thats how we made our money. That was the first thing that North American companies offloaded into Asia. Like another poster said, that's how Taiwan and Japan and Korea started. Factories pumping out cheap stuff. That eventually brought in enough capital that each country started its own companies that grew, and now produce high-quality products.

    You'll be seeing that out of China sooner or later. For now, you guys seem happy throwing shit loads of money at China for making shit products. So they're going to keep doing it. But there's an entire middle and upper class in the large cities who are very well (often Western) educated. Just like the last wave of educated people kick started the current manufacturing growth spree, the next wave is going to make knowledge based industries, and higher quality products grow and explode.

    Face it, its pretty much impossible over the long run for North America to hold its lead against Asia. The population base is fucking huge. And they are every bit as smart and ambitious (maybe even more ambitious) than North Americans. The best you can hope for is some sort of mutually favourable relationship where North America gets to keep most of its stature.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI

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