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Last post Author Topic: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam  (Read 60930 times)

Curt

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2011, 04:36:01 PM »
The second-richest man in Denmark once said, "Bad publicity is better than no publicity". I expect Cnet will carry on and not go back.

mouser

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2011, 02:27:54 AM »
After a few emails they agreed to remove all of my applications from cnet.

It's a shame too since several had editor's reviews and recommendations which are now gone forever, along with the user comments, etc., and their stats showed 100,000 + downloads from cnet.

« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 02:34:47 AM by mouser »

skwire

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2011, 02:30:56 AM »
I haven't even received a reply yet.   :down:

mouser

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2011, 02:33:23 AM »
Here's the email address where the reply to my request came from:
CNET Upload <cnet-upload@mailca.custhelp.com>

Hopefully if enough authors complain cnet will reverse their policy OR it will become common knowledge that cnet is a bad place to go to look for software.

mouser

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2011, 02:53:56 AM »
I wonder if this technique that cnet is pioneering is going to catch on.. It seems like just another example of free software increasingly being looked at as a great way for 3rd parties to make a profit off the work of others.

mouser

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2011, 03:54:51 AM »
A quick note: for those who are reading this and considering emailing cnet to have their software removed -- you might want to think about it for a while and consider the pracitcal ramifications before you do so out of anger.   Cnet/Download.com is a very popular download site, and if you had good reviews on the site, the reviews show high up in google results with google showing the # of stars in the review, etc.  In other words, there may be a high price to be paid for removing your software from cnet/download.com, and for a site like DC where we depend on non-paid sites to let people know about our software. I'm embarrassed to say I'm already feeling pretty upset about the high price of having our software removed and wondering if i did the right thing.  :(

nudone

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #31 on: August 24, 2011, 04:22:04 AM »
Might be too much work but how about creating a message pop-up for any programs that appear on cnet. The pop-up could then mention that the software is available elsewhere without the cnet installer - and therefore could also work as a portable application, etc., etc.

Maybe it would appear as intrusive and too annoying so would backfire as an idea.

vlastimil

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2011, 04:58:06 AM »
I'm embarrassed to say I'm already feeling pretty upset about the high price of having our software removed and wondering if i did the right thing.  :(

I am still on the other side of the wall (no reply to my email yet - I used the address from that "support" page), but I think removing is the right way. Certainly, if all your tools are freeware.

You are #1 for "screenshot captor" and download.com is holding #2 with the stars. My bet is, with that entry gone, more people would click directly on your link and get much better experience. Download.com was effectively stealing traffic and redirected people elsewhere.

I am in similar position on "cursor editor". Me being #1, but download.com being #4 with stars (or #2 if I use the full name). I suppose the high download count is due to this. Unfortunately for me, download.com has other cursor editors in stock and so by removing myself, I will not be eliminating the starred competition... But I still think it is worth the price.

Maybe google will revisit their strategy regarding star rating for download.com after what they have done.

mouser

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2011, 05:59:08 AM »
Over and over and over and over again we see this same basic model for websites to make their money:

  • First, the bait: the website is free for everyone and does provides tons of free information and writing, open to all equally and everyone is treated the same.
  • Often a major part of the content is generated by users contributing their own time.
  • Then after a reputation is built, and high placement on search engines is achieved.. time to pull the switch and make the money! Policies are changed to make money off of companies whose products are featured on the site, by offering to favor them over their free alternatives.

lotusrootstarch

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2011, 06:42:26 AM »
You are #1 for "screenshot captor" and download.com is holding #2 with the stars. My bet is, with that entry gone, more people would click directly on your link and get much better experience. Download.com was effectively stealing traffic and redirected people elsewhere.

Yeah.. you'd think that people who came up with the search query in the first place would actually prefer download.com for the download. ;) The real thing is when people google more generic queries such as "screenshot tool" or "screen dump software".

I suggest showing a message during installation or startup saying that the app can be directly downloaded from the site and that any third-party crapware push is opposed by this site, rather than removing all the apps directly from Download.com.


P.S. I wonder what happens to the apps that already bundles crapware toolbars within the installers, will the end-users end up with two toolbars trying to kill each other in the same browser? LOL.
Get my apps in Android Market! Go droids go! :)


skwire

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2011, 08:30:42 AM »
P.S. I wonder what happens to the apps that already bundles crapware toolbars within the installers, will the end-users end up with two toolbars trying to kill each other in the same browser? LOL.

I hope it would be like Highlander meets Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  There can be only one!  Two toolbars enter...one toolbar leaves. 

I'd pay to see it.   :P

Deozaan

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2011, 09:33:18 AM »
P.S. I wonder what happens to the apps that already bundles crapware toolbars within the installers, will the end-users end up with two toolbars trying to kill each other in the same browser? LOL.

I hope it would be like Highlander meets Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  There can be only one!  Two toolbars enter...one toolbar leaves. 

I'd pay to see it.   :P

Except then the toolbar that won would absorb all the evil power of the defeated toolbar. Making it an ultra powerful evil toolbar that can't be uninstalled and leaves behind traces in the registry and other folders. >:(


skwire

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #37 on: August 24, 2011, 09:42:09 AM »
Except then the toolbar that won would absorb all the evil power of the defeated toolbar. Making it an ultra powerful evil toolbar that can't be uninstalled and leaves behind traces in the registry and other folders.

As the Immortals say, "Dem's da rules."   :P

wraith808

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #38 on: August 24, 2011, 10:22:32 AM »
P.S. I wonder what happens to the apps that already bundles crapware toolbars within the installers, will the end-users end up with two toolbars trying to kill each other in the same browser? LOL.

I hope it would be like Highlander meets Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  There can be only one!  Two toolbars enter...one toolbar leaves. 

I'd pay to see it.   :P

Except then the toolbar that won would absorb all the evil power of the defeated toolbar. Making it an ultra powerful evil toolbar that can't be uninstalled and leaves behind traces in the registry and other folders. >:(

Maybe there'd be a not-quite-evil toolbar that would go around killing bad toolbars one-by-one in an episodic nature?

Nah... to fictional for even SyFy to take it on.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #39 on: August 24, 2011, 11:19:26 AM »
Nah... to fictional for even SyFy to take it on.

So after the aliens landed, bringing world peace, immortality, and all the unicorns back ... They created a magic toolbar...

40hz

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #40 on: August 24, 2011, 12:51:05 PM »
So after the aliens landed, bringing world peace, immortality, and all the unicorns back ... They created a magic toolbar...

...and sprinkled gobs and gobs of silvery glitter over everything!


Stephen66515

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #41 on: August 24, 2011, 12:55:17 PM »
So after the aliens landed, bringing world peace, immortality, and all the unicorns back ... They created a magic toolbar...

...and sprinkled gobs and gobs of silvery glitter over everything!



Sounds like the storyline to the next "Twilight"

wraith808

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #42 on: August 24, 2011, 01:22:50 PM »
So after the aliens landed, bringing world peace, immortality, and all the unicorns back ... They created a magic toolbar...

...and sprinkled gobs and gobs of silvery glitter over everything!



And now you know ... the rest of the story.w

JavaJones

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #43 on: August 24, 2011, 01:59:08 PM »
This is really an ugly thing. A couple of comments on latest developments:

Mouser, I think you are absolutely right to remove your software. Have no regrets, please. Yes, there were reviews, downloads stats, search engine positioning factors. But ultimately you want your users to have a good experience or they won't be users for long. CNet is endangering that possibility and *violating your trust with users*! That's inexcusable. They are essentially making an OpenCandy-esque bundling decision without your permission or even *compensation*.

And that for me is one of the most galling things about all this: they're making money off of people who have explicitly chosen to make their software available for free. Quite honestly I wonder in fact if this is even against the terms of many other *commercial* software publisher's free version licenses. For example something like Macrium Reflect, which comes in a free and commercial version. Surely they disallow people to make money off their free version, and would this not include download hosting as well? If not, I ought to setup a "premium download service" for Reflect right now and charge $5/head! So either CNet has thought of this and is giving kickbacks to some/commercial software publishers, or they've removed software that it would be an issue with, or they're going to be in some serious hot water at some point.

Not only that but, as Vlastimil pointed out, Downloads.com could actually be *competing* with the official pages for a lot of software simply by virtue of it being a familiar and/or iconic/generic name, and due to the star ratings, etc. Remember that if you're looking at a search for [name of software], your site is likely to come up tops, particularly if you disallow other (shady) places from hosting it. If someone is already looking for [your software name] in Google, then they should find *you*, not Downloads.com. It's a different story if e.g. Screenshotcaptor showed up on a search for "screenshot tool" or something, and downloads.com was #1 and DC #8 say. If that's the case then yes you've lost some, but I'm dubious that would be true simply because Downloads.com hosts lots of screenshot tools for one thing.

As for customizing CNet installers so that they display an anti-Cnet message or at least a "you can download this software without a toolbar here: [url], I think this is absolutely fair game and if you do decide to keep your software on there for whatever reason, I encourage you to do this. They may remove your software if they figure it out, but otherwise it would be a potent way to spread the word and punish CNet for this BS behavior. More fun could be had in bundling toolbar uninstallers with your app and auto-running that with your installer. ;) Basically CNet has declared war on free-without-strings, so all's fair, eh?

In regards to "the same basic model for profit" that mouser points out, I think there is a factor or a step missing: usually this happens when either the company gets bought out, management changes internally, or the business model they had to begin with proves unworkable. This happens especially when a previously moderately successful (or break-even) site gets artificially inflated value and gets bought by a company with unrelated or only marginally related interests, then gets eyeballed closely by the new owner for ever-increasing profits.

In the case of CNet, they have been through a lot of difficulty over time and have changed hands and management a few times. Last I heard, they were bought by CBS about 3 years ago. Now that's a while, granted, so it may not be a factor here, but likely the increasing challenges in SEo and web advertising have also played a part. Who knows if there was an internal management shift that also triggered this.

Anyway the point I wanted to make is that it is not necessarily directly correlated to "we have a successful site that we made successful because it was free, now let's milk it!", i.e. that it's not a direct step 1-3 thing with "profit" following immediately after success. Cnet and downloads.com have been around for *years* and have not done this kind of nastiness until this point. Why now? That's my point: there is a reason, and it's not that they have been planning this all along or whatever. *That* is the kind of conspiracy theory reasoning I'd like to see avoided.

- Oshyan

40hz

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #44 on: August 24, 2011, 02:24:47 PM »
I personally don't think there's any conspiracy involved at all.

I think somebody in management over at CBS took a look and said: "We've got this ultra-popular website that's getting X number of hits per day. Why aren't we making more money off this than we are?" After which the proverbial unspoken remark was left dangling in the silent room: Because if we don't start making more bucks off this real soon - it's gonna be shut down.

Next followed a mad scramble of meetings as all the people involved with Download.com put on their thinking caps and thrashed about for ways to 'monetize' the site.

And the rest, as they say, is what you're seeing now.

I don't think it was evilly motivated. It's just a bad decision made by some people who have their heads in a noose.

The real problem is that many developers don't have the resources in time and money  to advertise and host their own downloads. So once download.com goes away (which there's a 50-50 chance it will if it either can't "make it's numbers" - or generates enough negative publicity that it becomes seen as a pariah) it's the developers that get hurt in the end.

Boned if you stay; or double boned if you leave - or it shuts down. In the end it amounts to the same hard thing. Those who create (software developers, artists, writers, musicians, etc.) pay a heavy price to do what they do.

vill.gif

Nothing new there. It's been going on since the first Renaissance prince appointed a court composer, and then put his own name on everything the poor composer wrote after that.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 02:34:46 PM by 40hz »

mahesh2k

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #45 on: August 24, 2011, 02:34:57 PM »
It is becoming harder everyday to monetize websites. So their action to monetize is understandable. But the issue is that they're simply copying softwares from developers sites to their own datacenter and bundling them with OC like installer/updater and slapping on face of downloaders. All this without letting developer know about it. They need to understand that they're not doing any favor by hosting these files or saving bandwidth of developer. It's better to lose bandwidth than letting someone take advantage of your work without giving you credit.

wraith808

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #46 on: August 24, 2011, 03:18:45 PM »
The real problem is that many developers don't have the resources in time and money  to advertise and host their own downloads. So once download.com goes away (which there's a 50-50 chance it will if it either can't "make it's numbers" - or generates enough negative publicity that it becomes seen as a pariah) it's the developers that get hurt in the end.

I don't think many people actually browse download.com.  Their only contribution IMO is their SEO, and they are a central place so you don't have to be as wary of downloads from source that you have no experience with.  Once it's gone, the same searches will bring up the authors' site rather than download.com, so the only real thing missing would be the safety factor- and if they're going the way of being sketchy themselves, that's not a big loss.

JavaJones

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #47 on: August 24, 2011, 03:28:25 PM »
Yes, my point exactly 40hz. This is not a "basic model" or business strategy, as mouser seemed to imply. Sadly it *is* something that often happens over time. But this is more a result of the "buy innovation" strategy of many modern companies. It still sucks though, that's the end result, heh.

- Oshyan

Carol Haynes

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #48 on: August 24, 2011, 04:29:00 PM »
Simple solution to all developers - include a huge unambiguous message in their installer:

"If you downloaded this software from CNET it is illegal and probably full of crap and viruses"

That would take them down pretty quick and force them to react rather than respond!

JavaJones

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Re: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam
« Reply #49 on: August 24, 2011, 04:36:41 PM »
Exactly Carol, exactly. :D

- Oshyan