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Author Topic: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?  (Read 7523 times)

TheQwerty

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Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« on: August 13, 2009, 09:31:31 PM »
I'm sure by now some of you have read this but...
20090813-2208_13_0906 -.png

Quote
Hold everything! They are going to use my computer for "searching the web" without explicitly asking for my permission? What exactly are they indexing, and how do I know they aren't accessing something illegal with my computer? Why are they trying to hide this in the first place?

To be fair, they do give you a way to disable this absurd nonsense—though they bury the setting behind a "Support Digsby" item on the menu, with no clear description on exactly what they are doing with it. It's clear they are abusing their users, but since they technically explain it in the TOS and let you disable the feature, they weasel out of any responsibility.

In other words, besides the many many pages of crapware they make you opt-out of during the normal install, the latest update also includes a client from Plura Processing, which is enabled by default. There's no mention of it in the installer or change log - just a brief blurb in the TOS:
Quote
15. USAGE OF COMPUTER RESOURCES.
You agree to permit the Software to use the processing power of your computer when it is idle to run downloaded algorithms (mathematical equations) and code within a process. You understand that when the Software uses your computer, it likewise uses your CPU, bandwidth, and electrical power. The Software will use your computer to solve distributed computing problems, such as but not limited to, accelerating medical research projects, analyzing the stock market, searching the web, and finding the largest known prime number. This functionality is completely optional and you may disable it at any time.

This client is a distributed computing piece, which crawls the internet.  According to a comment on Reddit most of the work their client is doing goes towards 80 Legs, which looks to mostly be about crawling, analyzing, and cataloging the internet.

What Plura Processing and 80 Legs are doing doesn't seem too bad, but the way Digsby has once again tried to sneak things onto their users' computers is despicable. When they were in a poll on Lifehacker.com for best IM client they had no problem messaging all their users about the poll and their need for votes, but even after they were caught doing this they have not added a message to their change log or installer, and I doubt they've sent out a message to the users who haven't already uninstalled their crap.


Personally, I'm hoping that Plura Processing views the mention in the TOS as insufficient and refuses payment to Digsby. The way I read their website
Quote
Plura® requires that all affiliates fully disclose and obtain permission for the utilization of such resources. This is important as we want such utilization to be completely transparent and voluntary.
makes it sound like they'd be perfectly within their rights to do so, since Digsby implemented it as an opt-out instead of opt-in.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2009, 09:34:28 PM by TheQwerty »

y0himba

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2009, 11:33:39 PM »
This is especially amusing after the snub that Trillian Astra was given for winning best IM out of the "Hive Five".  I could see it happening though.  Digsby has been sketchy since almost day 1. (IMHO)
My Web Site:  http://www.y0himba.net

mahesh2k

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2009, 05:59:40 AM »
Their usage of Freeze.Net's installer makes me not to install it.  :down: Freeze.net is adware program. and i simply hate any installer which tried to install that on my computer.

Deozaan

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2009, 04:08:07 PM »
Crapware is in the eye of the beholder, apparently.

Seemingly respectable software now tries to bundle all sorts of crapware. Have you tried installing Flash recently? They try to sneak the Google Toolbar on you.

Anyone tried installing iTunes or Quicktime in the past decade? They bundle each other.

Anyone tried installing Java? I think it tries to bundle Yahoo! Toolbar or OpenOffice or both.


Ehtyar

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2009, 04:32:20 PM »
I'm not sure anyone would call iTunes or QuickTime "respectable" software. iTunes is a (very crappy) media manager for an overpriced series of portable media players, QuickTime is a player for a proprietary media format with no discernible improvements over the 100s of preexisting and open formats. Flash is a nasty little html replacement that runs code generated by a proprietary and extremely expensive toolchain developed by Adobe, which unfortunately happens to be widely adoped. Java, while open source, is a tightly controlled, slow, and bloated runtime library for a large number of cross platform applications.

These applications bundle crapware because they *can*. The companies that produce them know that most users will put up with it, because they basically have to. Tried using the web entirely without flash lately? Tried to convince an iPod/iPhone user they don't need iTunes lately? Boycott them where possible, strip them down otherwise.

Ehtyar.

TheQwerty

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2009, 09:52:36 PM »
Crapware is in the eye of the beholder, apparently.

Seemingly respectable software now tries to bundle all sorts of crapware. Have you tried installing Flash recently? They try to sneak the Google Toolbar on you.

Anyone tried installing iTunes or Quicktime in the past decade? They bundle each other.

Anyone tried installing Java? I think it tries to bundle Yahoo! Toolbar or OpenOffice or both.
I'd venture that most of the people installing Flash have heard of Google, in fact they probably used it to find the installer. iTunes and Quicktime are both made by Apple and meant for media playback (for the most part), so it's not that big of a surprise that they bundle them together.  I believe certain features of iTunes do rely on Quicktime, and now that Apple offers the ability to download Quicktime alone without having to go on a scavenger hunt, it's not too bad.  Like Flash, I'm sure most of the people installing Java have heard of Yahoo! Toolbar, and I believe they only show an advertisement for OpenOffice while installing.

I wish these companies weren't trying to force all of this onto our computers, but it's become a bit of standard practice for freeware.


The problem I have is the amount of other programs Digsby is pushing but even more frustrating is how they went about installing the grid client. Sure, they have a lite installer that doesn't offer all of this (though you still have to opt out of things at the end), but the distributed client is installed in both cases.

Just as a test I did a fresh install of Digsby in a VM.  This is using their normal installer and installs Digsby version 23485.
  • First, you are asked to accept that you will install Digsby and accept their TOS and Privacy Policy.
    On this same page you are informed of the InstallQ installer's Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • Do you want to opt out of installing the Yahoo! Toolbar (EULA and Privacy Policy)?
  • Do you want to opt out of installing MyFreeze NetAssistant for IE (EULA and Privacy Policy)?
  • Do you want to opt out of installing SmartShopper (Terms of Use and Privacy Policy)?
  • Do you want to opt out of installing a trial version of Registry Power Cleaner (EULA and Privacy Policy)?
  • Do you want to opt out of installing a trial version of PC Confidential (EULA and their Privacy Policy is the same as Registry Power Cleaner's, as they're both from WinFerno)?
  • Do you want to opt out of installing Desktop Weather from The Weather Channel (EULA and [url=http://www.weather.com/common/home/privacy.html[/url]Privacy Policy[/url])?
  • Do you want to opt out of making My.Freeze.com your browser's home page?
  • Do you want to opt out of making Yahoo! IE8's default search?


Note that most of the EULAs that you'd be accepting are not on the product's actual page but rather Freeze.com, so there is no way for me as a user to know without a doubt they are current or even applicable to the version of software they'd be installing.

Also, there is absolutely no mention aside from the TOS that they'll also be installing the distributed computing client.  Though at least you now have to opt into enabling it via the Help->Support Digsby dialog.  They include a link there to their own site explaining what the client does, but it's rather vague.  They don't mention what project your computer will be working on, or even who the client comes from; instead it's referred to as the "Digsby Research Module."


I feel I'm pretty well versed in software, and I've only heard of Yahoo! and the Weather Channel here.  The rest of these sure have names that sound exactly like programs that advertise all over the Internet and are usually crapware.  It's one thing to bundle programs from your own company or other well known companies, but what the InstallQ installer offers is a lot of programs that are from neither.  They all look like crapware to me.

Go ahead and be the judge for yourself, but in my opinion this is a whole new league of disgusting.



As I said, my main problem is how they installed and previously enabled the grid client, in addition to how they've handled the fallout.
  • No mention of the client during the install except for in their TOS.
  • No mention of the client in their change log.
  • No official mention appeared on their website.  This has since changed, but last night about the only thing I could find were some blog posts about how they were thinking about adding one, and a few forum posts.
  • I'm fairly certain you aren't shown their TOS when Digsby auto-updates itself, so you aren't made aware of changes.
  • Hours after this broke and was made well known they hadn't updated their site to address it.  They had no problem sending out a mass message begging for votes on the Lifehacker poll, but they kept quiet on this.  (They may have sent something out after I uninstalled it - but clearly I wouldn't know.)
  • Instead of admitting that they made a mistake by including it without making users aware, they mocked some of the complainers and did not take their concerns seriously. This goes back at least 8 months.
  • When finally addressing the topic, they didn't apologize for their actions.  It's a little thing that goes a long way.
  • They've been trialing this out for months, and there were several complaints about it as well as their lack of communication.  They clearly felt a mention in the FAQ and TOS would be enough and ignored the users who argued otherwise.  In the end, I don't believe they even graced us with that mention in the FAQ until today.
  • It's not like this is the first time the users have had to complain about the opt out attitude that Digsby has.  They went through this multiple times when trying different installers and using InstallQ.
  • They now claim they were going to make us all aware in good time, they just hadn't finished coding up a decent interface for it.  That's fine, but why is it enabled then? With the many hours of EULAs and Privacy Policies they expect users to read during install, it's hard to believe they might put users before money. A user who has no idea the client is running won't disable it, and the longer it's running the more money they earn.  If they didn't see how this would be viewed as negative by the users, then I'm not so sure they should be programming in the first place, and I certainly have less trust in their software.


Again, I have no problem with grid computing, and actually think Plura Processing is an interesting way for developers to cover their costs, but it should always be clear to the user and only ever something that user's must opt into.  I can even swallow the pain of opting out of everything InstallQ offers me, but all of this makes it really hard to trust that what they show and tell users is accurate and all their program does.



Sorry about another long post, but this type of sneaky behavior really upsets me and it damages the user-developer relationship for every application out there by making it even harder to build any trust.

cthorpe

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2009, 11:53:19 PM »
Here is the current build installer that does not include any of the toolbars and other questionable content:
http://update.digsby...all/digsby_setup.exe

You still need to go to Help > Support Digsby > Help Digsby Conduct Research to disable the "Research Module."

As for what I think about all of this... I am a Digsby user.  Recently, I had to reformat and reinstall Windows.  When I went to install Digsby, I was concerned about all the toolbar screens when I ran the setup program.  I did a little research and was concerned about the "Research Module."  I was even more concerned that I had to dig into the Help menu to turn off the feature.  I looked at other IM programs, but didn't see any that worked the way I wanted them to work.  So for now, I'm running Digsby, but I am keeping an eye on the situation.

I want a program that consolidates Gmail chat, AOLIM, Facebook Chat, Facebook updates, and Twitter.  On the Facebook, I want to see updates about wall postings, status changes, etc.  I found plugins to add Facebook Chat to other programs, but nothing to show updates.  Trillian Astra seems to be capable of doing all this, but I couldn't get comfortable with it.

C

Perry Mowbray

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2009, 01:07:35 AM »
Here is the current build installer that does not include any of the toolbars and other questionable content:
http://update.digsby...all/digsby_setup.exe

Thanks Carl, this is the link that I used when I originally installed Digsby way back when.

I'm a happy Digsby user, though I bypassed the install offers and have now turned off the research module.

I'd even consider turning on the research module if I had some say in what projects it was used on. I think I even read in their blog that their was some consideration of enabling online stats of what your computer had done and how much you've helped  :)

J-Mac

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #8 on: August 15, 2009, 03:21:55 AM »
The "free" version of Linkman uses (or at least DID use - I don't know if it still does now) the InstallQ installer and Freeze.net for what the developer of Linkman seemed to think was only showing some adverts during the install process and nothing else. I posted some of the language in InstallQ's T&C's and Freeze.net's so-called Privacy Policy. Actually very funny if it weren't so outrageous. Here's the link to that post:

http://www.donationcoder.com/forum/index.php?topic=12687.msg142744#msg142744

Jim

Carol Haynes

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #9 on: August 15, 2009, 06:22:47 AM »
Anyone tried installing iTunes or Quicktime in the past decade? They bundle each other.

Not totally fair comment - you can download QuickTime without any additional software.

The reason you can't download iTunes without QuickTime is that iTunes uses QuickTime as part of its functionality.

I am not commenting on the quality of either product (IMHO they both deserve to be called crapware) but I thought it only fair to set the record straight.

Having said that iTunes does indeed install a pile of crap with it - including the totally unnecessary Bonjour service and the pointless iPod nonsense for anyone who doesn't want to use the software with an iPod.

Lashiec

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Re: Digsby: How about a little respect for your users?
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2009, 11:58:47 AM »
Not totally fair comment - you can download QuickTime without any additional software.

The reason you can't download iTunes without QuickTime is that iTunes uses QuickTime as part of its functionality.

I am not commenting on the quality of either product (IMHO they both deserve to be called crapware) but I thought it only fair to set the record straight.

Actually, both are of you are correct :). At some point in the past, it was impossible to download QuickTime separately, because the ever classy Apple decided to wipe off that option from its website. The situation continued for a fair bit of time, until pressure from the users forced them to relent. They haven't learned anything since then, anyway.

Commenting on Digsby: To use it, the software requires you to create a Digsby account, which will conveniently store both your IM login details along with configuration options from the program (with the latter effectively taking advantage of the strengths of local apps and cloud computing). No way in hell I'm giving them such details. One can only have nightmares about what they could with their userbase contact details and now this joke.