In a posting to the official MySpace Developers blog on Tuesday, MySpace President Tom Anderson announced changes to the application guidelines intended to prevent developers from building self-promotional features into their applications that result in intrusive and deceitful behavior, such as generating unsolicited messages to other users or tricking application users into approving such actions.
"The main thrust of these changes is to limit app communications that are based on incentivizing or tricking users. To be clear, the purpose of these changes is to emphasize to developers that their focus should be on creating great apps that users will want to tell each other about. The best viral software is software you can't live without. Unfortunately, for some developers, the focus has been on how to come up with the best methods of viral distribution," Anderson wrote.
The problem isn't new. Facebook has had to deal with it since launching its own developer platform a year ago. For sites like MySpace and Facebook, the main goal of allowing external developers to create applications for their sites is to enrich their users' experience with software that the companies don't have the time, interest or resources to develop on their own. But if some of these applications become an annoyance to members, then they defeat the purpose of the developer programs by harming instead of enhancing the user experience.
In a complementary post, a MySpace official provided more details about the guideline changes, including:
-- It's now forbidden to offer members incentives for promoting applications via messages, comments and other forms of communication.
-- The applications must be very explicit in explaining an application's communication capabilities.
"Every single developer should take a look at the guidelines as soon as possible. We are enforcing these new guidelines as of today for newly developed applications," the posting reads.
For applications that are already live on MySpace, developers have two weeks -- until June 3rd -- to make their applications compliant with these new communication guidelines.
MySpace opened up its developer platform in February and its applications gallery, in test mode, in March.