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When an arguably free service turns ad supported

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I used the chrome extension WiseStamp for a while, and have toyed with paying for it- I've come really close a couple of times- just for support purposes, not because I needed any of the 'advanced' features.  WiseStamp is basically an email signature manager, i.e. it keeps track of e-mail signatures, and pastes them into your e-mail.

Recently, I started seeing some ads in the top of pages.  I went to MSDN... there was this banner inserted.  It wasn't all pages... but it was troubling.  Had I picked up some sort of adware?  Or malware?

Apparently I had... Wisestamp now inserts ads in every page if you use the freeware version.

Shouldn't they have to advertise this sort of switch?  And even moreso- if they change their functionality, shouldn't chrome reauthorize the extension?  Needless to say, it's gone.  If they had been upfront about it, I would have evaluated whether I wanted this... but as it stands, they basically slipped it in, and lost my trust.

IMO it shows bad form to do so without some genuine advance notice. But that's me.  :-\

I guess it's just further emphasis for the observation that "if you're not the (paying) customer, you're the product."

Well, even product vs paying customer concerns aside- the fact that they go outside of their interface to insert ads seems... smarmy.  If it was in their settings interface, or even if they started adding links into the signature... that would be grey.

But... just because they couldn't be limited to gmail because of permissions (which I think that now chrome needs... the ability to have domain based permissions), they take advantage of those elevated permissions to put ads in the other pages?  And what kind of exploits does that open you up to?

The more I use Chrome, the more I wish I could use Firefox.  It's coming to the point when its getting as bad as IE.

^I hear you. I gave up on Chrome some time ago because things seemed to be going on inside it that nobody was making much effort to be up front about.

And yeah, it is smarmy no matter how you look at it.

Addenda: Igor Ljubuncic at the Dedoimedo  :-* blog has post regarding some of Mozilla's latest 'monetization' antics that I think apply equally well to some of the transparency and honesty issues raised by Wraith here. Blunt and spot on - with some of the funniest rephrasing of corporate newspeak (Users' content experience = Enema treatment with GPL licenses) I've read in a long time:

Firefox, Directory Tiles, Advertisements, and Honesty
Updated: February 19, 2014

No, I am not going to do what everyone else has been doing. And that is quoting the original announcement by some Mozilla hobnob, telling us how they intend to use the tiles page, which shows nine thumbnails for most frequently used sites, to display ads to first-time users. Anyhow, that is the background story.

And this is my story, or rather, my interpretation of what is happening here, and how the world should react to this latest move by Mozilla. Not that long ago, I entertained you by my Firefox suckfest article, which tells about how Mozilla is becoming Chrome and their latest wannabe user interface called Australis, or rather Ausfailis. Now, we will talk about integrity and honesty
Why so angry?

Not angry. I have NO problem with Mozilla making money. Honestly. Really. I want them to have a sustainable finance model. But I demand honesty. That's my only beef with this whole bullshit. If they change the name of this program to We want money, I can relate to that and I can appreciate that. But I cannot accept it when they treat me like some moron with a double-digit IQ, and pretend to give me valuable content in the form of the shittiest and useless personalization would-be fascism.

Mozilla, try honesty for a change

Let's see what gives. Try this approach instead. Call the Directory Tiles program a revenue program. Tell users this is in order to get more money and sustain the browser so they aren't left with monopoly like there was one in the days of Internet Explorer, and tomorrow Chrome. Tell them this is optional, and that you can actually disable the tiles, so you need not have to suffer stupidity. Indeed, you can always disable the tiles. Here's how you do it:
--- End quote ---

Read the whole article here.


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