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Author Topic: Cnet's Download.com and the installer scam  (Read 38713 times)
vlastimil
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« Reply #50 on: August 24, 2011, 04:59:01 PM »

Sadly, that would not work, because download.com hosts the current versions of our software and they certainly would not approve a new version that would warn users about them.

Even if they did, some users will be lost due to bad experience caused by the adware-packed installer.
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vlastimil
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« Reply #51 on: August 24, 2011, 05:21:31 PM »

BTW I am kind of angry and so I mentioned this incident on their wikipedia page.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #52 on: August 24, 2011, 05:21:46 PM »

If CNet wants to stay current with new versions they'll take your version or, at least eventually, remove it. Just add some major, compelling new feature. Wink

- Oshyan
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mouser
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« Reply #53 on: August 24, 2011, 05:27:18 PM »

We could probably easily write code for standard installers (inno, msi, nis) that detected when an install was launched through cnet installer and aborted the install and warned users to avoid/boycott cnet and told them why, and directed them to the original download site.

That's not a bad idea.
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mouser
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« Reply #54 on: August 24, 2011, 06:49:40 PM »

Everyone should try to let CNet know how much they are opposed to this policy and will boycott CNet until they fix this.  Write emails, post on websites --we need to let them know this is not ok.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #55 on: August 24, 2011, 07:07:37 PM »

I just posted on G+ and FB about it now. Now contemplating adding it to my blog based on my post above...

Edit: I just emailed Scott Ard, their Downloads Editor in Chief, with the following:

Quote
As a long-time user of Downloads.com I read with dismay the news of your new policy of wrapping software downloads in a proprietary installer that contains questionable software solely intended for revenue generation for CNet. Subsequent claims that this is "for the good of the user" are transparent and frankly galling. There is only one reason to do this and it has nothing to do with user benefit. While I certainly recognize that CNet has to make money to survive and continue offering good services, I also know that Downloads.com has been around for many years and has survived this long without such drastic and questionably legal tactics. Surely there are better solutions.

Not only is it morally despicable to take liberties with other people's software, it seems highly dubious from a legal standpoint given the EULAs and redistribution agreements of a lot of software applications. I'm aware that many of the applications CNet hosts are not in fact uploaded or officially approved by authors. Many who did not upload their software were at least ok with having it hosted given it was a free service and there was no modification. With this new policy you are losing any good will you had and risking serious legal consequences too.

As an IT consultant I have frequently recommended Downloads.com to customers. I will no longer be doing so and will be spreading word of these reprehensible actions as far as I can. I urge you to reconsider your policy.

Annoying you have to be logged-in to email them, so if you don't already have a CNet account or aren't logged-in, be sure you take care of that *before* opening their nifty lightbox message window and writing out your 1500 character response. If not you will lose it when you try to login.

- Oshyan
« Last Edit: August 24, 2011, 07:25:19 PM by JavaJones » Logged

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« Reply #56 on: August 24, 2011, 07:14:23 PM »

To be honest, I don't know if they'd change. Dissent is likely to come from the long tail, and they simply don't care about it. The top few programs drive traffic and revenue, so...

Mouser, I hate to say it, but in some ways I think pulling your software from there is like pissing into the wind. Not that I disagree or anything with you. I just don't know what the practical effects will be, and I have a hard time seeing CNet budge on the issue, especially if it's profitable, which it probably is.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #57 on: August 24, 2011, 07:24:23 PM »

Pulling his software does not have to negatively affect CNet at all for it to be worthwhile. Mouser is protecting *his* reputation and customer relationships by doing this.

- Oshyan
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« Reply #58 on: August 24, 2011, 07:55:00 PM »

Pulling his software does not have to negatively affect CNet at all for it to be worthwhile. Mouser is protecting *his* reputation and customer relationships by doing this.

That's the thing -- I'm not sure it will. Are the people that download from CNet likely to notice? Would it adversely affect an author's reputation? Would it improve it? After all, having a CNet wrapper could be interpreted as a CNet endorsement and could elevate some authors' software in some user opinions. Dunno.

I know what I think, and I've read what others here think, but seriously -- we're not representative of the larger public. Most people here are way too technically savvy to be considered 'regular users'.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #59 on: August 24, 2011, 08:13:54 PM »

Fair points Renegade, yet I know from talking to my friends - none of whom I would call "technically savvy" - that they too dislike toolbar installers and other "offers", for the most part. People have come to distrust this stuff to some degree. Of course they can sometimes be handled well, and maybe CNet's are, I haven't looked myself as I'm pretty much boycotting them at this point. The simple fact that they're doing this without author involvement or permission is enough to piss me off. But regardless techies aren't the only ones who notice or dislike this stuff.

The software is already hosted on CNet, that's endorsement enough. I don't think having the installer wrapped in CNet BS is going to help authors any further than that, and it's likely to hurt if it is clearly an attempt to get money from the user. People may not know the tech details behind it, but many can see that these "offers" are an attempt to earn money and won't like it. Now it's fine if an author chooses to do this themselves on their own software, that's one thing. But this is CNet doing it without their consult and that's just reprehensible. CNet is essentially establishing in the minds of software users, for freeware and commercial alike, that the authors of that software are trying to milk their users.

I suspect you *may* have a different perspective from some here due to your use and support of OpenCandy, which we've previously established is a bit controversial. Wink

P.S. I made a blog post about it: http://oshyan.blogspot.co...-wraps-all-downloads.html

- Oshyan
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mouser
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« Reply #60 on: August 24, 2011, 08:20:31 PM »

That's a fantastic blog post Oshyan  thumbs up thumbs up thumbs up

Really it would be trivial for CNet to solve this problem simply by letting authors choose to not have this adware installer bundle injected into their software download, without trying to extort $99/month from the author for the privilege.

That would essentially resolve the issue completely.

And then if they were smart they would what you suggest, which is to offer this as an option and offer to share some of the revenue with the authors.
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Renegade
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« Reply #61 on: August 24, 2011, 08:47:35 PM »

I suspect you *may* have a different perspective from some here due to your use and support of OpenCandy, which we've previously established is a bit controversial. Wink

You're way off there. I didn't express any opinion one way or another about CNet's wrapping installers as it wouldn't add anything to the conversation. (It's pretty much all been said. But it looks like I need to clarify what I think there.)

Flat out, I see CNet wrapping installers as an obvious violation of author trust, IP, and in most cases, their software EULAs.

There are fundamental differences between what CNet is doing and OpenCandy. OC starts with respect and consent. CNet is starting off by hijacking installers without consent.

I wanted to install some software (ALToolbar), but it's hosted at CNet now. When I saw the file name, I stopped. If CNet is screwing authors, what will they do to users? (Who are probably less likely to care about the issue...)

Now, my installer hasn't been affected. CNet simply links to the file on my server. (It's a ZIP file.) So I've not been affected that way.

But CNet is one of those gargantuan beasts that can basically do whatever it wants, just like Apple, or Google, or whoever. The bigger you are, the more evil you can be and get away with it. So, that's why I am not sure about the practical upshot for pulling software from there, or whether or not it will matter to users (regarding opinions about authors -- I fully expect it to have a negative impact on users whether they perceive it or not).

Anyways, that's just my $0.02.

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40hz
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« Reply #62 on: August 24, 2011, 09:27:59 PM »

The bigger you are, the more evil you can be and get away with it. So, that's why I am not sure about the practical upshot for pulling software from there,

                                       

Rolling over and playing dead has never been a good response to 800lb gorillas misbehaving.

At the very least, standing up to them makes it very clear that their behavior is not being given your tacit approval. Because there's a great deal of truth to the old saying "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

In the end I think it all comes down to how much respect you have for yourself and what you believe in. If you allow yourself to knuckle under without firing a single shot, you were already defeated before the conflict even began.

Just my tuppence.

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« Reply #63 on: August 25, 2011, 12:10:10 AM »

The bigger you are, the more evil you can be and get away with it. So, that's why I am not sure about the practical upshot for pulling software from there,

                                         (see attachment in previous post)
Rolling over and playing dead has never been a good response to 800lb gorillas misbehaving.

At the very least, standing up to them makes it very clear that their behavior is not being given your tacit approval. Because there's a great deal of truth to the old saying "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

In the end I think it all comes down to how much respect you have for yourself and what you believe in. If you allow yourself to knuckle under without firing a single shot, you were already defeated before the conflict even began.

Just my tuppence.



True. Luckily I don't have to deal with it directly.

It's just one of those additional things that I don't want to think about. I devote enough energy elsewhere.


I simply cannot get myself worked up about it. I'm tired. I don't have the energy to scream about every problem. Eventually, my voice gives out. This is something that other people need to scream about. I'll throw in a +1, but I'm not going to scream.
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« Reply #64 on: August 25, 2011, 12:24:28 AM »

I think at this point I would advise people *not* to remove their software from cnet *yet*.. But instead try to keep up the pressure on cnet to allow authors to disable this feature for their software, and make a final decision about what to do after we see how cnet responds to this criticism.  DC will push as for changes and try to highlight why the current situation is so unacceptable.
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vlastimil
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« Reply #65 on: August 25, 2011, 04:15:51 AM »

I finally found time to blog about it... http://www.rw-designer.com/entry/293
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mahesh2k
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« Reply #66 on: August 25, 2011, 06:14:07 AM »

Mouser, do you see any traffic from CNET in your server analytics logs ? If yes then it is good for developers in general and if not then they're basically creating traffic leak for freeware or shareware products or respective author site.
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y0himba
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« Reply #67 on: August 25, 2011, 07:40:30 AM »

It appears OpenDNS is now classifying the site in the Adware category...
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mouser
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« Reply #68 on: August 25, 2011, 07:47:57 AM »

vlastimil -- Awesome page thumbs up

y0himba -- That's very interesting.  The one thing that would make Cnet reverse course faster than anything would be if this move started causing them to drop in rank on search results.  Here's a case where a policy of ethical search engine strategy could be used for good and not evil.. The problem is that the search engine companies are such behemoths that it's impossible to contact anyone at the companies who has the power to do something..

mahesh2k -- Actually I've only recently noticed that CNet software listing pages seem to not show links to the authors web pages, which is a separate battle we need to fight with them, since that's pretty outrageous on it's own.  Because of that, I'm not sure that CNet creates much traffic to DC from their normal software listing pages.  However, CNet seems to be sufficiently popular download site and users and editors review and rate our software on those pages.  And DC software tends to be quite highly regarded on those pages.  And the review ratings are shown as graphical stars and are ranked very high in (google) search engine results.  I think the ner effect of all this is that CNet pages are likely to have a positive effect in terms of people discovering our software.  That's more intuition than anything.  On the other hand, your point and vlastimil's very interesting early post where he suggested that the CNet pages could actually be competing for traffic *against* us are intriguing.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 07:59:45 AM by mouser » Logged
y0himba
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« Reply #69 on: August 25, 2011, 08:02:52 AM »

In my opinion, if a software site offers a program for download, a link to the developer/author should be displayed prominently as one of the first links you see.
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« Reply #70 on: August 25, 2011, 08:16:13 AM »

After talking to a CNet editor, I'm a little more optimistic about CNet coming to their senses and realizing that they need to give author's a way to opt-out of this process for no charge.. Keep the pressure on folks.

Quote
In my opinion, if a software site offers a program for download, a link to the developer/author should be displayed prominently as one of the first links you see.

This really needs to be mandatory -- and not a link to some generic developer home page -- but a link to the PROGRAM home page.  This is something that should not be optional.  Any site not doing this is purposefully and unreasonably trying to make it hard for you to go get the latest original download and information about the program (probably in an ill-advised effort to avoid you "leaving" their site).
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 08:34:06 AM by mouser » Logged
app103
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« Reply #71 on: August 25, 2011, 08:31:07 AM »

I have given them the rating they deserve: http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/download.com
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« Reply #72 on: August 25, 2011, 09:05:56 AM »

This really needs to be mandatory -- and not a link to some generic developer home page -- but a link to the PROGRAM home page.  This is something that should not be optional.  Any site not doing this is purposefully and unreasonably trying to make it hard for you to go get the latest original download and information about the program (probably in an ill-advised effort to avoid you "leaving" their site).

I think that's kind of unrealistic. They want to keep you on their site so that there's a higher chance that you click an ad. If they "leak" visitors to developer sites, that's money down the drain.

Granted, I'd like to see that, both from a user and a developer perspective. I quite often want to visit the developer site for more information. Download sites typically have crap for basic info. As a developer, I like links to me~! smiley
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« Reply #73 on: August 25, 2011, 09:20:59 AM »

I have to disagree with you there Renegade.

Not having a having a prominent link to the program homepage is unacceptable for a download site.
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« Reply #74 on: August 25, 2011, 09:29:04 AM »

Hi Folks,

Snapfiles makes you go back one level to details, and then has a link to the publisher.  I think that is sufficient.  As long as I do not have to google around for the url.

FileForum is excellent on this.  Right with download are two links, one to the publisher, one to the publisher-software.

(Based on a quick check.)

These are the two that I have most trusted over the years, yet you can still see some shlock elements. Fileforum with the Registry Booster ad on page 1, Snapfiles featuring StopZilla.  However, they have good user reviews, and they are not ad-bloated.  Almost always helpful, Snapfiles has less quantity.

Some others like Tucows and Major Geeks have been 2nd tier. Plus many other specialty sites, such as the freeware sites. It is true that CNet has been an important player, if they lose a lot of business, both publishers and user complaints, they will have to reconsider.

However, compared to say the Avira Uniblue and Ask Toolbar fiasco, this is a little more complex. Presumably a full opt-out of damage is easy and they are well established with numbers of titles.  So they may decide to simply plow ahead.  They are not known as a personable outfit.

Ok, I notice the full opt-out will still leave junk on your disk.  So it is all pretty bad.

To the user it is simple: do not use CNET if at all possible (I had already done that when I noticed the shenanigans) and it is good to let them know you are gone.

To the publisher definitely:

1) register your complaint to CNet
2) take off any links to their download at your site

And .. make the decision to try to remove or not. I would not presume to recommend one or the other, since the decision between lost business and a bit of download hassle is close. If you do allow, a note that they are not your preferred download on your site would be helpful.

CNet will at least notice and consider, and hopefully make major changes.

Shalom,
Steven Avery
« Last Edit: August 25, 2011, 09:56:50 AM by Steven Avery » Logged
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