Samsung is seemingly so desperate to promote the 2013 Samsung Smart App Challenge, they were willing to risk the harsh backlash now raging against them from the developer community. Read Samsung’s official comment here. A digital marketing company reportedly hired to promote SSAC has been offering US$500 to users of Q&A programming site StackOverflow to get the word out.
According to Delyan Kratunov, an Android developer, he was approached through his personal blog by John Yoon, chief commercial officer at digital marketing company Fllu, about a “small partnership” to promote the 2013 Smart App Challenge. Kratunov turned them down, and posted the entire exchange for all to see.
In Yoon’s reported e-mail to Kratunov (also reposted on his blog), Fllu contacted members they felt “know something about Androids and Android Apps” to pose “four questions on StackOverflow over the span of a month” in a “casual and organic” way.
Yoon made the point of saying, “We don’t want to SPAM…I repeat we don’t want you to spam the message boards with links to the contest.” Instead he suggested users pose questions like “Anyone know anything about SSAC?” and “Need some feedback on the app? I am about to enter for the Samsung Smart App Challenge.”
Kratunov was quick to point out that if anyone posted “questions” like that on StackOverflow in the first place, users would see through the ruse and they would be downvoted immediately.
A recent update from Kratunov reposts a mass e-mail sent by James Yoo, director of operations at Fllu, admitting that their offer was a breach of StackOverflow’s terms of service and that Fllu does not condone any such action.
When reached for direct comment about his experience, Kratunov told us every e-mail and thought he has on the matter is already published on his blog, along with some further comments here.
Kratunov isn’t the only user who’s been contacted by Fllu, either. In the blog post’s comment section, other users Blundell and Naveen reported receiving the same offer, and James Ma reposted the same apologetic e-mail from Yoo.
Samsung has not officially commented on whether they hired Fllu or had any knowledge of the StackOverflow promotion offer, and this isn’t the first time they’ve been accused of employing tactics like this. Allegations have surfaced over the years of Samsung posting fake Web reviews, interviews and benchmark tests, often through outside marketing or social media companies.
On Samsung’s history with these sorts of scandals, commenter foljs wrote, “[Samsung] has been doing the same stuff (fake users, fake testimonies, spam, etc.) for 2-3 years now. After some point, you know those ad people have the OK from the mothership—after all, someone has to approve a promotion before it’s run.”
Ultimately, these types of strategies employed by large companies illustrate a fundamental misconception about why sites like StackOverflow, XDA and other communities like these exist. At Hacker News, user farmdawgnation wrote: “This is, in my mind, evidence that companies like this are out of touch. They want to treat StackOverflow like a search engine and marketing tool to be optimized, and, in their ignorance, don’t see it as something different than what it actually is: a community of people passionate about their craft and helping others with it.”