Once again we hope that getting publicity on blogs will catch the attention of someone at Google who can do something about it.
This time, I'd like someone to tell me why it was impossible for the dev to remedy this through the normal channels and tell us what Google are going to do to stop this happening again.
But remember the people generating publicity on blogs, because their Google+ account was deleted? Then it turned out they used a company name as their profile name, posted underage nudity, or otherwise violated the rules.
The blog assumes the developers are innocent and abiding by the developer rules. But can we take this assumption for a fact?
For all we know the developers might have been offering incentives to write reviews. The developers might have send account activation emails from a spammy host.
The email they received from Google isn't published, only described as vague. A tweet mentions "repetitive content".
Spam and placement in store
Do not post repetitive content
I wouldn't look at update frequency or an algo fluke as the culprit, but look how I could remedy this apparent repetition, both in game versions and game descriptions.
Many big-name games do this (you can choose between a paid version and a free, ad-supported version). Rovio released an Angry Birds Lite for a while when they were having performance issues on lower-end devices.
Assuming this behavior does break the rules (which is not a given), the rules are still enforced very inconsistently, with no recourse.
Star Traders Mini is a super stripped down low resolution version that is 1/7 the size of RPG. Tiny downloads are appreciated by some users, but can't be combined with full size editions.
The other two are basic freemium Paid/Free.
Explaining exactly what behaviour should be stopped may make Google's arms race with the bad guys a little bit more difficult but it makes things a lot easier for everyone else without causing the kind of costs that human intervention would.
What they do now is basically security by obscurity.
It sucks for people running into legitimate issues, but I've learned to develop a bias over the years for these types of stories (especially when the word "ban" comes into play).
The vast, vast majority of people who complain about being banned from one service or another are either straight up lying, or leaving out crucial details to make their story sound sympathetic. Again, this ruins it for people that have legitimate grievances, but that's so rarely the case it's a lot more useful to take that stance that the person isn't being truthful about the situation.
At least with Apple you can appeal to a human. With Google all you can do is appeal to the press and hope someone there cares.
But remember the people generating publicity
We're hearing one side of the story, where the players know that the other side is limited in what they normally can or will say (e.g. talk bad about Apple or Google -- playing up being the victim -- and for legal and professionalism reasons they usually won't correct egregious lies).
I want Google to seriously put the hammer down on the Play store -- this is a good thing for everyone. The people who exploited it before, who are the enemy of people who want a healthy and vibrant system, will inevitably cry foul and protest their innocence.
That isn't to say that I know anything about whether these guys are in the right or wrong, but it is curious how one-sided they are about Google's communications. It's also worth noting that very frequent updates are also a mechanism to get your app in the "New" category again and again, and we have to assume that Google has the capacity to know that the update wasn't an actual update but instead was simply, for instance, a version number change.
I know we don't.
Who's the we? I'm sure tons of Y Combinator startups use Google Apps.
brador's comment stands. Would I trust my livelihood to a company with a proven track record of not caring about its own digital sharecroppers?
That's now good customer service.
On the up side, I made $70 and learned some interesting stuff.
But here's yet another way for Google to run false positives which send you into their black hole of non-support. So one of the things I'm still learning is "don't let Google be a mission-critical part of a project."
This can be expanded to "Don't let any single company be a mission critical part of a project".
Also, just to be clear: once again, we're responding to a one-sided media story without reference to the app in question or the facts on the ground. And, once again, we're jumping in for or against the side we curently favor in the smart phone wars (I'll bet good money there's an iPhone in your pocket, so let me put down my Galaxy Nexus to respond).
I think the demands he made are pretty reasonable. Both Google and Apple need to improve relations and communications with developers in cases like this and trying to avoid the subject or turn it into a fanboy war wont help the case.
So please, put back your Nexus in your holster, cowboy.
I have my own perception about these things and that is that if this was an Apple case instead of a Google one it would have been overanalyzed and exaggerated ("devgate" or whatever other stupid name attached to it) and that one-sided stories would be welcomed instead of questioned.
This is probably coming across as a pro Apple statement, no doubt (and I do'nt really care, i don't make a big deal about what technology i decide to put in my pocket), but I also think it'd be against users and developer interests to say that the problem is not there or that is only a matter of perception based on your ecosystem preferences.
If there something wrong, or that needs improvement, it should be said regardless on what phone you use or your personal preference.
And just to be clear, the only reason you're responding is because ten thousand other people consumed and shared the story. And the reason they did that is because the narrative that nobody is home at Google is powerful in the development community. It threatens to spread to the rest of the web as well if you guys don't get in gear and start fixing this corporate culture problem.
The Android guys even have videos that touch on this:
And that's just one non-spammy reason for multiple versions. More sweaty Steve Ballmer and less Bill Lundburgh please...
Stop it, people. Find some real evidence and indict them with that.
That is the story. Google is threatening to remove non-shady apps for reasons that are entirely mysterious.
So the article details the attempt and failure of the devs to contact Google, and the author's attempt and failure to contact Google. What do you want, a seance?
Google didn't respond to a request for comment from me [the author of the article].
I think you need to read more closely.
And BTW I'm generally favorable toward Google, and my pocket holds an Android.
How would you suggest getting it?
If google is going to use an automated tool to detect violations of their rules that generates false positives, then if they have any clue whatsoever they need to put a human in between it and the developers to prune those out. Otherwise, it's like going to see your doctor and only getting a web browser set to WebMD instead.
When a problem happens with Apple's App Store, is there a guaranteed way to contact and get an answer from a human?
"Violation of the intellectual property and impersonation or deceptive behavior"
Pretty vague so I didn't really know what the issue was. I thought my description fo the app was accurate and it was all my own work. I followed the appeal process listed in the email and waited. After a couple of weeks with no response, I emailed again. After another week, I followed up again. Finally after a total of three weeks off the market, it was re-instated. I still don't know what the problem was, but being off the market hurt. I went from nearly 4000 downloads a day when it was suspended to just a few hundred now.
FB auto message: our very amazing and awesome malware detector, which uses all this cool machine learning and is amazing, has detected that your site is malware and we are disabling it.
Us: Our site is not malware, it's just suddenly very popular. Please turn it back on.
1 week later
Us: Ok, it does appear to be back on now. Why was it shut off?
Us: How did we do that? Could you explain what term we violated, so we can modify our code appropriately?
Us: Ok, but which term? Are you sure your automated system didn't just shut the site down because it went viral?
FB rep: no response, ever again
We never changed the code, site continued to work fine. As a result, I live in fear that something like this could happen again, in a situation where facebook was a critical component. Did the ability to contact a human help in this situation? Unclear. They definitely did a good job of making us feel worthless and unimportant.
It's annoying as hell, and a lot of people's response if "well it's free, so don't expect customer support". Except it is the customers that make Facebook worth $100bn, for example.
More companies need to learn from Amazon, their customer support is first rate. I can see a lot of people turning their back on Facebook/Google due support issues.
If it's the former (which is how I interpret it), then they should tell you what IP you've violated or who your accuser is. I understand they want to be vague to avoid giving information that may allow spammers to game the system, but I think they're going to be more persistent and sophisticated anyways. This leads to an ineffective deterrent technique and a poor experience for customers. You'd figure Google would have people smart enough to realize this.
"Upon further review, we've accepted your appeal and have reinstated your
So, I still don't know what the problem was.
The relative safety and convenience of the app store is not justification enough to give up these fundamental freedoms to unaccountable corporate bureaucracies.
I would guess that it's that your logo is an obvious derivative of Instagram's logo, as is your app name. There is a very real possibility that users in a rush could install your app when they intended to install Instagram proper.
If Google really starts cracking down, anyone with a trademark infringing logo is going to have a rough time -- you can't take someone else's logo and just modify it without their express consent. Maybe Instagram grants it, but this does seem to be actionable.
It turned out I had used the word "dice" too many times in a description of my simple "dice" game because I described all the rules in the description. I had to mutilate my description and remove about 80% of the times I used the word "dice".
I emailed Google telling them what I had done, and that I fixed that problem, and that I really hoped that WAS the problem, and I begged them not to remove my apps because I was diligently trying to figure out what I had done wrong, and that I WOULD fix it - I'm a reputable developer, and I play by the rules.
I did receive 2 real-human emails back from Google in the process saying "thank you" and now months later my apps are all still online, so it appears I found the right problem.
I can certainly understand the frustration however. If there is literally nothing throwing up a red flag and you don't know what you have done wrong, and Google doesn't appear to give specifics, it can be scary.
The way I approached the problem was that Google probably didn't have a live human poking through my apps to find a violation, and it was most likely a "robot" that found the problem. This means it most likely had to come from a textual description or there was a potential IP situation. The email mentioned "spam", so I looked for the former first and found the over-use of the word "dice". Sure enough, that was it. Or at least I assume that was it, because my apps are still online now - months later.
That says really really bad things about the eco-system when your target 'developers' are so confused and unclear about what they can and cannot do, and the enforcement of same is not testable a-priori, that they have to resort to begging for understanding.
Either that or their algorithm really doesn't like you using the same word over and over again (this seems unlikely).
Spam apps are a real problem, and I personally won't be bothered by this as long as the devs that complain (and presumably trigger a human review in the process) don't have their apps inappropriately removed. So far, I haven't really seen any evidence of a widespread problem with inappropriate removals, just inappropriate warnings.
I don't have a horse in this race either way, but as a pretty flagrant violation of IP, perhaps this is why they've drawn fire from Google? Games Workshop is usually pretty assiduous in protecting their IP.
Though I'm not sure I agree with banning such clones, after all game mechanics can be neither copyrighted nor patented.
It's the art. Compare the screenshots of the various units to this:
While the visual similarities haven't causes Games Workshop to complain about infringement from Blizzard (as far as I know) it doesn't mean that Games Workshop isn't complaining about infringement in this or other cases.
However, it's telling that GW's notoriously trigger happy lawyers have left Blizzard alone, so it's pretty much a non-comparison.
From the look of the UI, it even has a time countdown slider for each turn, something fairly unique to Space Hulk. I kinda miss that, it really made Space Hulk tense. Still, it's a 20-year-old game, probably time for a remake somewhere :)
And isn't Google about to release a tablet soon? Good luck.
It's on purpose.
An occupant of a blog is, as the saying goes, a product, not a customer.
EDIT: I re-read the article. I thought they were losing their Blogger account. Never mind.
Yes you won't get support for their free version, that isn't entirely unexpected.
The experiment is now: how much developers will adjust their behavior to signal clean behavior versus Google perfecting its algorithm to perfectly judge intent. Once Google has a reasonable policy in place, they can sit and wait for developers to conform, and presumably those that can't conform cannot do so precisely because the behavior they would have to change is the behavior that makes their software malicious or undesirable.
Humans already do this every day in conversation - I adjust my language and tone to signal non-malicious intent when making a statement I fear might be perceived as threatening or rude. But these are relatively easy fixes that do not affect my communication horribly; I suppose it's still an open question as to whether Google's criteria unreasonably hinder the development process.
What's interesting about that? We're all guilty of putting action over intent. Look at A-B testing, the metrics we use have nothing to do with our user's intents. Fuck their intents, I'm optimizing to get as many as possible to give me money.
Its the same exact thing, just wearing a different color jacket. This time you just happen to be the subject rather than the administrator.
Software isn't a fire and forget transaction anymore
As long as they can get away with it, Google won't simply give you balanced powers on their platform. They will give you the bare minimum they can afford to. Same with Facebook, Twitter, ... and their APIs.
There are always real justifications for this, but the problem behind is balance of power. You are stuck with them so they make the rules.
... and so they really don't know anything... o_0
I have zero experience with the Play store, but I have expected developers to be able to get more information by email, at least. Also, I though the Google store was supposed to be 'open' and all that. I feel bad for those devs whose apps are going to be arbitrarily removed without explanation. Perhaps they'll want to join us on the Apple developer side of the fence for awhile! I'd love to see their games on iPhone!
For the time being it's all anecdotes, and we choose to believe based on our personal histories (with apple, the media, the reliabilty of messageboards, etc)
To you, your application may be something you sunk months of your life and perhaps something you are relying on to pay your mortgage.
To the app store owner , your app is simply 1 of hundreds of thousands of apps. Google/Apple etc must receive hundreds of fraudulent or otherwise "dodgy" submissions every day, so it makes sense from their point of view to optimise the process of deleting these.
If they end up accidentally burning a few legit indie devs in process because of false positives then it is simply viewed as collateral damage.
I can only see this becoming more arbitrary over time as the app store owners begin to sink under the crushing weight of application submissions.
To be honest , I'm not even sure how I'd set my phone up to use a different store nevermind the average android user.
Avoiding vendor lock-in is an extremely important part of the business side of technology.
Why http://www.amazon.com/mobile-apps/ 404's is incomprehensible.
Here is the link: http://goo.gl/1MNYv
Also, pay attention at conferences when you meet Googlers and stay in contact. They may also be able to help you with direct support.
And there is Google's major problem in a nutshell.
Actually I think that option in Android should be more fine grained. There are certain markets I would allow, but I don't want to allow ALL markets. At the moment the choice is only "play only" or "all sources".
I wish it would be more like debian, for example, were I could add to a list of enabled sources.
I'll just highlight his (bolded) takeaway: "do not disregard alternative markets"
Perhaps it is a "repeating scenario" because these app stores are rolling over in bed and squishing the poor bastards who get into bed with them and stake their business on cooperation?