Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Fallen London

Evolution of the Spam

17th January, 2010

You may have seen recently more tweets pointing links to something called Fallen London.

I’m not here to discuss the game, what it does, why as soon as you start playing it asks to OAuth with your Twitter account, or even the merits of social gaming.

I am here, however, to discuss the fine line between playing a game, sharing links, and spamming.

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Optional Tweeting

Fortunately, Fallen London is escaping one of my frequent rages by not forcing the users to tweet in order to progress in the game. However they do make you follow their account, so you can “receive important messages by DM” (why couldn’t you put them on the screen?!) - but I will let them off this.

They risked being another Poll Pigeon, spamming the Twitter world so far into oblivion that all the spam filters figured it out and now we hear pretty much nothing from them.

I still question the morals, however, of giving users extra points in the game by tweeting out links from the game.

Tweeting still optional, though

Giving users this option, however, provides us with a much more interesting prospect; instead of being directly labelled as Spam, we could consider that the tweets are much more like advertising.

Now we have seen things like this before: Ad.ly is offering users with large follower counts money for sending out tweets on particular topics (and here’s why it doesn’t work).

Is it really an advert though? Is it not just the user posting the link because they want to?

Of course not.

If the user just wanted to post the link, then they would post the link without their referral code on it.

In fact the only thing not making it an advert is the fact the user isn’t being paid to send the link out.

Following optional too

So I will be taking a close eye at people who feel the need to bombard my stream with these adverts, and see if they are worth continuing following.

Of course this is up to them if they want to keep posting these links, I am not trying to tell them what to do - but I can’t put up with some game I’m not even interested in playing being shoved in my face all day.