Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Adding application ratings to Facebook Applications

I have a few Facebook applications which have a modest number of users (Easter Egg, Four Secrets, One Lie and My Days) and it started to annoy me that Facebook does not have a way for users to rate applications.

Well, now they do.

A Free Service

I've put together a little service that allows any Facebook application developer to have their app rated by users and display the rating on their application's About Page. To see how this works take a look at the About Page for My Days. At the bottom there's a section where the current application rating is shown, and the user is given the chance to vote on the app.

All the voting takes place on my server, and I've managed to create HTML that the About Page will accept that dynamically updates the voting as people vote.

Adding rating to an application's About Page

If you have a Facebook application and want to have voting on your app., then simply add the follow HTML to the app. About Page text at the bottom:

Rating: <div style="height: 16px; width: 85px; background-image: url(; background-repeat: no-repeat"></div>
Rate this app: <a href="">1 star</a>, <a href="">2 stars</a>, <a href="">3 stars</a>, <a href="">4 stars</a>, <a href="">5 stars</a>

Here's what that looks like when the About Page is shown:

Adding rating to an application's Canvas Page

To add app rating to the Canvas Page of your application (so that users can rate from within the app) you add the following HTML:

<hr />
Rating: <div style="height: 16px; width: 85px; background-image: url(; background-repeat: no-repeat"></div>
Rate this app: <a href="">1 star</a>, <a href="">2 stars</a>, <a href="">3 stars</a>, <a href="">4 stars</a>, <a href="">5 stars</a>

Replacing YOUR_APP_ID with the application ID (i.e. the number on the app's About Page) of your application.

View the top applications

Anyone can view the top applications by clicking this link.

Warning to fraudsters

A note for fraudsters: behind the scenes I'm monitoring how the voting is taking place and where the links are coming from, even how they were inserted. Don't mess with this, or risk having your application blacklisted. It would be a pity if trying to game the system resulted in your application's rating disappearing completely :-)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Last push for POPFile voting

POPFile has been nominated for a SourceForge Community Choice Award due to the efforts of many people.

Voting closes on July 20 and there's strong competition in POPFile's category from the likes of Pidgin (formerly GAIM) and phpBB.

If POPFile wins SourceForge will be making a donation to a charity that I picked: Doctors without Borders.

If you feel like voting for POPFile, please vote in the Best Project for Communications category here:

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Stop me before I code again: another Facebook application

I woke up with a brainstorm and I just had to implement it. You may remember the Five Things meme that was going around the blogosphere a while back. I thought it would be fun to have something similar on Facebook, but with a little twist: one of the things is a lie.

So, I created the Four Secrets, One Lie application which lets you post five things people don't know about you, one of which is untrue. The application randomizes the order and places them on your Facebook profile page.

To make it interesting for the visitor you can click on each secret to discover whether it's true or not.

Here's my current set of Four Secrets, One Lie:

* John is a qualified SCUBA diver.
* John is a closet Meatloaf fan.
* John plays the drums in French Meatloaf tribute band "Pain de Veau"
* John speaks French very well.
* John thinks Neve Campbell is just perfect.

I have just one more idea for a Facebook application and then I'd better stop coding these things, it's getting addictive.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

So, I built a Facebook application: Easter Egg

I've been playing with Facebook for a little over a week and I couldn't resist trying out the Facebook Platform. To be honest despite the missing documentation and changing APIs, they've done a nice job.

My first attempt at an application took a little over 3 hours and is called Easter Egg. It lets you leave Easter Eggs on your profile that only certain visitors can see. So, for example, you could leave a little love note for your girlfriend, or details of a secret party for your buddies, or just say Hi! when your Mom visits. And here's a screen shot:

If you are a Facebook user and like that sort of thing you can add Easter Egg.

Please vote for POPFile

POPFile has been nominated for a SourceForge Community Choice Award through the efforts of its users.

Now it's time to vote.

If you love POPFile, please vote for it in the Best Project for Communications category.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Long Tail of Facebook Applications

Lately, I've been developing a little application using the Facebook Platform (my Easter Egg and Four Secrets, One Lie application) and I started wondering about the statistics surrounding Facebook applications. So, a little WWW::Mechanize application later here's some facts that are true today:

1. There are 1,225 Facebook applications available in the Facebook directory.

2. There are 73,109,074 installed applications in Facebook users' profiles.

3. Hence the average application has about 59700 users.

The problem with the average is that it hides a savage reality of Facebook applications: some have many users, most have almost none. To analyze that I broke the data logarithmically counting the number of applications with greater than 1,000,000, 100,000, 10,000, 1,000, 100, 10 and 0 users.

At least X usersTotal applicationsPercent of total

So, 86% of applications on Facebook have less than 10,000 users, with 62% having less than 1,000 users. The 'big applications' (with over 100,000 users) account for 5% of all the applications, and only 2% make it over 1,000,000 users. So for most people developing a Facebook applications means very, very few users.

Graphing that you get a classic Long Tail picture:

The top 21 applications (over 1,000,000 users are):

ApplicationTotal users
Top Friends7,490,104
Fortune Cookie4,107,451
X Me3,628,523
Free Gifts3,106,403
Honesty Box1,904,742
My Questions1,556,722
Favorite Peeps!1,459,334
Food Fight!1,387,109
HOT or NOT1,138,625
Where I've Been1,027,373

Another way to examine the Facebook data is to ask who the most prolific authors are. The top most profilic authors are:

AuthorUser count
Goowy Media106,248
Sze Tan83,670
Patrick Shyu827,621
Kevin Koder8230,164
Pete Crucian7503
Lucy Silverman71,180
Sari Williams6599
Zach Smith619,397
James Tyler6487

Only Kevin Koder (with 230,164 users spread of 8 applications) is anywhere near being a 'top application' on Facebook. Kevin's top application is Family Guy Quotes.

The top 10 authors by number of users are:

AuthorTotal user
Jia Shen4583310
R. Tyler Ballance4556234
Ted Suzman4085317
Nikil Gandhy3351734
Zachary Allia3107219

Unsurprisingly Facebook is one of the most popular authors given their advantage of actually owning the site. Ignoring the companies on the list there are a few individuals who've hit the big time on Facebook. Whether that turns in to any money for them is another thing... but Facebook benefits from this Long Tail because the cost to them of the vast underbelly of barely used applications is close to 0: they don't even host those applications, you do.