I am a big fan of using reputation as the central measure of spam. Reputation means many things to many people, but I am using the word in the context of an aggregated measure of many inputs taken together to establish a message senders' reputation. That's how a company I'm invested in, Return Path, does it. They are the leader in email whitelisting and deliverability. Their premise is simple. Measure every known mail sender's (ip address) reputation based on a slew of inputs, including complaint rates, unsubscribe compliance, e-mail send volume, unknown user volume, security practices, identity stability, etc and create a Sender Score. Once you know a sender's reputation (sender score), you can provide a host of services to mail senders and recipients that help both sides make sure that users get the mail they want and don't get the mail they don't want.
Facebook is mimicking that approach with the viral marketing channels in its Facebook platform. Inside Facebook reported yesterday that Facebook has rolled out a reputation system that dynamically determines how many notifications and invitations a Facebook app can send per user per day. Right now, it's relatively crude and relies upon the following items:
- Your historical invitation acceptance rate
- Whether your application overrides the user's choice to invite no friends, but instead forces users to invite friends
- Additional undisclosed factors that "reflect the affinity users show for the application as a whole"
Like everything Facebook does, this system will evolve and get better and more sophisticated. But the bottom line is this. If you use best practices, play by the rules, don't upset users, and deliver percieved value, you'll get to send more. If you don't, you'll get to send less.
I think this is a very smart move by Facebook that will result in a better experience for everyone.