23
Dec
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Last Updated: December 27th, 2010

<begin rant>

This has been brewing for a while, but I've had enough. As you may know, throughout the week, I keep an eye out for any new worthy Android apps to be rounded up and published for everyone to enjoy. An important part of this search is looking through the new apps list, for which I had chosen AppBrain - specifically, this RSS feed, which lists every app entering the Android Market.

As I've looked at these new apps day by day, I started noticing something peculiar. No, it wasn't the amount of fart apps and soundboards - those, while annoying, are still legitimate applications, which, thanks to Google's openness, deserve a place in the Market just like any other app. What I noticed was that the same several apps appeared in the list over and over and over again, day after day. It's been weeks, and this behavior has not subsided - in fact, it's quickly getting into a disastrous state.

Let me explain what is going on here. The developer of the following "games": DoodleChain 2, BoomShine, Dottouch, and MouseChain, represented by at least 2 developer accounts - Forrester and Woodman, published them to the Market and probably got a few bad reviews and a low overall rating, most likely because those "games" are bad. Really bad.

Update: Found 2 more accounts spamming the same, and even more, apps: FastAndFun and Koks. It's getting more ridiculous by the hour. Just look at the Market account for Koks on a Market tracker that doesn't seem to removed deleted apps: Koks@AndroidBlip.

image image

So, what do they do after that? They pull down the apps, rename the package names (pname), which is how Google identifies each app internally, by appending "001" and republish them back to the Market. Immediately after, they rate all of their apps 5 stars and end up getting into the Newest Apps list in both the Google Market and sites like AppBrain. Slowly, people vote them down again, so they rinse and repeat, gaming the Market over and over.

Wondering how ridiculous the situation has gotten? The current iteration is 062 (though, it looks like this number is a lot higher), and the apps get republished almost every day, sometimes twice a day. A simple search for DoodleChain in my Google Reader reveals the following 175 results:

image

Here is how you can find the spammers (they bounce the apps back and forth between accounts, so one of them might be empty at any given time):

Forester:

Dev channel at AppBrain

QR code for market://search?q=pub:Forester

Woodman:

Dev channel at AppBrain

QR code for market://search?q=pub:Woodman

FastAndFun:

Dev channel at AppBrain

QR code for market://search?q=pub:FastAndFun

Koks:

Dev channel at AppBrain

QR code for market://search?q=pub:Koks

So, what am I trying to say here?

  1. I am calling you out, Forester/Woodman. Cut this crap out, we are onto you, and we like neither your apps nor your spammy tactics.
  2. There is no protection currently in place in the Android Market to prevent it from happening. You can easily mark comments as "spam" but with apps, it takes a lot more effort. You need to install the app, uninstall it, and mark it as malicious, but either Google is not paying any attention to these reports and the strategy doesn't work or not many people are onto these spammers yet, because both dev accounts are still active now more than ever. Google, you are being gamed - what are you going to do about it?
    Edit: As Anas pointed out in the comments, an app can actually be flagged without the need to download it - just scroll to the bottom and select "Flag as inappropriate." You know what to do, people.
  3. Here are the developers' email addresses: [email protected] (Forester), [email protected] (Woodman), [email protected] (FastAndFun), [email protected] (Kox) - let them know what you think of their actions.

Update: I have reached out to Google for comment.

</end rant>

Image credit: Gone Googling

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • Jay

    It's crap like that which devalues the entire market. Lets murder them. Or at least set them on fire.

  • Double

    at the moment, you have to pay $25 to get a market account. If you have one, you can publish as many apps as you want.

    Better would be a $10 charge for every app. It would decrease the amount of spam, and lower the costs for developers of free apps, like those you can find at the XDA forum.

    • jason

      i'm completely in favor of per app charges. just to be clear, this is not per update. $10 may be too low though.

      it would open the door for having a "premium" app store as well that costs like $1000/app or more. which may be a good thing. i'm sure big app publishers like EA, etc would like that.

      • Pat

        Well, maybe not a per-app charge within reasonable bounds, but perhaps a tax on low-quality apps. As in, add a charge for anything over one app per week or whatever.

        That way, you only penalize those who are submitting high volumes of apps, which will just so happen to be those who are releasing low-quality apps. Win-win.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I think this is a really good idea. Makes no sense to just charge once - I think it would kill off this problem, but, unfortunately, I don't think Google will go that route - it seems too late now to change the terms.

    • MetalWych

      I agree 100%. As a code monkey myself, I know that a lower price per app, but a per app cost would be welcome. Please Google, do this...

  • Frank Z

    Thanks for the email address. I went ahead and sent "Stop re-submitting your crappy apps, dammit! They aren't going to get any less suckier."

    I have done my good deed for today.

  • Forester Woodman

    Good find! But i will continue my mission.

    • lawls@the_troll

      ^^^^^^^^^^ haha the troll/spammer this article is about is right here laughing at you all.

    • crazycat

      **********LOL**********

  • shane

    good discovery... hopefully google will get on this

  • T

    Stuff like this - as well as other stuff which are blatant violations of the Android developer distributor agreement - has been going on for more than a year.

    Unfortunately, Google just doesn't care about this stuff unless a big public stink is raised about it.

    • Frank Z

      You're right. We should claim that allowing devs to spam app submissions is somehow resulting in the collection and storage of payload data from unencrypted WiFi networks by Google.

      THEN they will jump on it.

  • aj

    Whoa. This is bullshit. Let's teach these guys to quit spamming and instead, try making better games!

  • anon

    Commence the spamming of the spammer's email!

  • http://bsapps.com Sean Montgomery

    What these developers are doing sucks. Although, not sure about the per app charge. I am just starting out and released my first app a few weeks ago. I have not made back the $25 yet...I imagine I will at some point though.

    Other possible ideas would be to limit how many apps you can release in a time period. Most developers can not put out an app a day.

    Another idea is to flag a developer if an app has 70% (or some high percentage) of the same code as a previous app.

    Not sure what the best solution is. I agree that this type of behavior should be stopped though. It is not helpful to anyone.

  • http://anasqtiesh.com Anas

    You can actually flag apps without downloading them. In the market, open an app's page, scroll all the way down and you'll find the button to flag it.

    Come on guys. The basics.

    • Frank Z

      I used this method to flag DoodleChain. We should form a flag coalition.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Thanks, updated the article with this. I never really paid attention to the fact that this option is available before you install the app.

    • AKBMobile

      Thanks for the reminder.
      Flagged as inappropriate-Other objection- "Spamming/Gaming Marketplace"- Submit Button.
      Did this for each of the games represented by the above devs (some of them are in the Market twice!)
      Merry Christmas Android Police.

  • toupeira

    A better way to get Google's attention might be to submit a feature request on their issue tracker at http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/list.

  • http://bloomworlds.com Todd R. Levy

    Hello, my name is Todd R. Levy. I am co-founder of BloomWorlds, we are developing Android's family friendly app store. One of our key differentiation is that we will not have user reviews, so there is nothing to game. We will instead have our Parental Advisory Council write testimonials on each and every app in our store. For more information http://preview.bloomworlds.com/
    thank you!

    • Frank Z

      No offense but I think this is a terrible idea...

      • http://bloomworlds.com Darrell Brogdon

        Why do you think this is a terrible idea? What do you recommend that would be better?

    • JR

      And why should we trust your "Parental Advisory Council" any more than user reviews? Sees like you have at least as much of an agenda as the spammers.

  • DroidLady

    What about Michael Quach? He's a spammer too!

    • K

      I hate all of the crappy Quach apps. Ugh.

  • http://www.euandroid.com.br Will

    You have my support!

  • Mark

    You can add Koks to the spam mix:
    http://www.appbrain.com/browse/dev/Koks

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Updated. Also found FastAndFun doing the same shit. Those bastards are out of control.

  • A-Droid

    This dev has lots of similar apps:
    pub:ibookapp
    What's that if not spam?..

  • Stretch2m

    This practice, along with the tactic of developing one "content-viewer" app and repackaging it a hundred times with different content, are infuriating and seriously devalue the market browsing experience to the point where it's unusable. For example: a book reader app published separately for each of 100+ public-domain books; or a popular quotes app published separately for each topic or author (e.g. "Winston Churchill Quotes"). Then the publisher plays the numbers game and gets fat off the ad revenue. I would hate for Google to Big-Brother the market, a la Apple Store, but when there are irrefutable ABUSES like this Google should really do something. Maybe they could limit the number of apps based on the publisher's weighted rating for their other apps.

  • Dave W

    Similar to the keyword spamming used on live Wallpapers. Just search for live wallpaper and you will see what I mean. pages of sucky ones with the same dev. Description s "Live Wallpaper" X 25 demoting all the decent ones to a lower page.

    Google need to moderate these and slap where needed.

  • Androidess

    Wouldn't it be horrible if their email addresses were placed/submitted on/to some mass email spammers, alternative lifestyle sites, etc..just saying..

  • http://Wizardmods MrCaz

    Well done Artem Russakovskii,i browse this site everyday and read all the new posts and find it a good source of knowledge on new thing too do with android.

    Now anyone can do a review,anyone with some decent grammar(not me) can write up about a phone or an experience but it is clear that you have done more then that.You have gone out your way too investigate further your finding's and publish them for others too be wary of.

    Great work i found this interesting and informative what you have written and hope too see more of it.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Thank you.

  • mightybbb

    You really think that emailing them will stop this? Maybe you should also email Mahmoud Ahmadinejad while you are at it and ask him to stop his nuclear program.

  • J-Dog

    Why not have a star rating for a developer, based on the star ratings of his/her apps?
    If the per-developer fee is high enough ($100?) then this might work.
    Just a thought.

  • govigov

    May be google can impose a limit like, say "1 app a week per account" or "1 app in a fornight per account" or something like that. that can slow things down considerably.

  • brantje

    Shoot those fucking noobs

  • Todd

    Some spam the description to gain ranking for keywords. Checkout the description of apps by Live wallpaper appstore. They have filled the entire description with same words -soccer baseball fishing etc. its pathetic. Google does not seem to care either. I already flagged as inappropiate amd they are still clogging up the top ranking because of their spammed description.

  • Reakus

    I think that adding a limit to the number of apps a publisher can post on the market will hurt nearly as much as it will help. A lot of publishers create free/ad versions of apps and it would make them unable to post the two apps at about the same time... As for the Publisher Rating, I think that would be a very beneficial system.

  • SiliconAddict

    Hey but at least Google is focusing on the important stuff like screwing the consumer over with 15 minute return policies. That is JUST as important as this right? Right?

    In all seriousness I tried to find an advanced alarm clock on the market. Gave the hell up after 20 minutes of wading though 15 pages of $15 clocks. Most made by the same person. While I don't want a closed market Google has to damn well do something. Maybe have two markets. Open and semi closed that can be switched or something. Because this is insane.

  • Fish

    How about the ability to block a dev along with ranking them?

    The people who spam the reviews of apps, always giving them 5 stars and leaving a url to their site are also deserving of a serious beating.
    I'm not going to name any of them because I refuse to promote them, but I enjoy flaming them for the practice on their own forums.
    Seems like it would be easy for google to spot and block the reviews with urls (domain names) and multiple identical entries.

  • Andy

    Doodlechain and FastandFun dont show in my market so hopefully the big G is on to them now
    Happy New Year to all!!

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Unfortunately, they are still there under Koks today. No Doodle chain but plenty of other spam.

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