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Old 09. Apr 2011, 04:36 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default OpenCandy

When you install a freeware product, you might encounter that its installer is powered by OpenCandy, which recommends you to download and install another software product.

To know more about OpenCandy, you might want to check out this article "Controversial Advertising Program Now Being Embedded in More Software".

And here's a quote from the article:

Quote:
OpenCandy employs some controversial techniques in its operation and this has created some heated discussions in internet forums and blogs. Some say it is adware or spyware while others say it is just another legitimate form of advertising. Whatever, you need to be aware of this product and its potential pitfalls.
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Old 09. Apr 2011, 05:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Thanks Jojoyee for starting this thread.

The link above already has a lot of information in it, so I won't start by repeating any of it.

(I am Ryan Smyth. I've posted in the thread above but used a different user name for here in the forums.)

But the quote you've given makes me sort of shake my head a bit, and especially this part:

Quote:
Whatever, you need to be aware of this product and its potential pitfalls.
"Pitfalls" is pretty unflattering. I use OpenCandy in my own software, Photo Resizer, and only see it as a benefit.

There's nothing to hide. I've been perfectly open about the Super Simple web site and the software on it. OpenCandy is a part of that.

I'll be opening up more of it though in the near future at one of my blogs: http://cynic.me/. You can find analysis of OpenCandy there, as well as other information, both related and unrelated.

Cheers,

Ryan
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Old 09. Apr 2011, 09:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Can I just ask why you feel the need to keep justifying it?
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Old 10. Apr 2011, 03:33 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MidnightCowboy View Post
Can I just ask why you feel the need to keep justifying it?

I was trying to clear up some bad information.

Scareware is a pet peeve of mine. It drives me nuts. I try not to read too much normal news because it's so horribly depressing. But it still happens in the tech news with sensationalist "security" stories where the truth doesn't get in the way.

You can ask any developer that's been flagged with a false positive by some AV software. It's a common occurrence.

Fear mongering does little to help the situation. We need good, accurate information and not alarmist conjecture and speculation.


Conversely...

Can I ask why there is a need to attack it?
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Old 10. Apr 2011, 03:45 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Can I just ask why you feel the need to keep justifying it?
Oh, and there's the other thing that should be obvious by now. I tend to be like a dog with a bone!
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Old 10. Apr 2011, 08:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Conversely...

Can I ask why there is a need to attack it?
Collectively we try to provide Gizmo's visitors with what they want to see and judging by the current feedback, items containing Open Candy are not on this list. One of the biggest criticisms we receive is for not pointing out hidden elements such as Ask and OC in our reviews.

Personally, I object to being "stealthed"with something I would otherwise choose not to have if I knew it was there in the first place.

To be honest I'm not much interested in how developers need to fund their software because it is not up to the likes of me to judge them. To suggest though that this is all fine and dandy is stretching the inference that the rest of the world must be wrong to its limits.

If OC is such a great tool for suggesting things users might want if they only knew about them (like other forms of advertising) why not release it as a standalone system advisory scanner and then see what the install rate is?
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Old 10. Apr 2011, 03:21 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Super Simple View Post
Conversely...

Can I ask why there is a need to attack it?
I do not view the position of Gizmo's as an attack. If it were an "attack", then products with OC would have been banned. Gizmo's article on OC is clear that there is no evidence that OC is malicious.

We have visitors with varying levels of experience in software and to be responsible to the less informed, it is necessary to advise of any extraneous addons that are not necessary to the functioning of a product.

Many of the less experienced users are under the impression that these additional softwares are necessary to the product they intended to download.

Which is my concern with OC, toolbars etc.-Essentially they prey on the "weak"
Weak being those less experienced users.

Why is the OC process mandatory during install?
Why not a screen giving the user the option-explaining the needs of the developer of the software and the fact that the software suggested by OC is not necessary to use the underlying software.

Why isn't it clearer on the suggested software page that the suggested software is not necessary for the underlying software to function?
I have not received an OC suggestion, but from the images I have seen of the suggestions, there is no such disclaimer.

Why is there an "opt out" process with OC?
Meaning that the user must take a step to refuse a software suggestion. It is my understanding that this is a decision of the software developer using OC.

The answer to all of those is that it is less likely that a user will download the suggested software. Which means that the inexperienced users are more likely to download the extraneous software that they may or may not need.

Edit: I do understand you defense. You have selected this as part of your install process and in that sense it is a reflection on you.
I also believe that OC is preferable to toolbars etc. Although I do not know how selective OC is in choosing the software it suggests, it appears from what I have seen that the softwares suggested are legitimate. I have not seen a listing of eligible softwares at the OC site, so I can not say for certain that this is so.

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Old 10. Apr 2011, 03:23 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MidnightCowboy View Post
Collectively we try to provide Gizmo's visitors with what they want to see and judging by the current feedback, items containing Open Candy are not on this list. One of the biggest criticisms we receive is for not pointing out hidden elements such as Ask and OC in our reviews.

Hey, it's your site, and you get to do whatever you want. No argument there.

And as for pointing out hidden things, heck, I'd agree. As a user, I want to know about those things. But there's nothing hidden or secretive about OC. (see below)


Quote:
Originally Posted by MidnightCowboy View Post
Personally, I object to being "stealthed"with something I would otherwise choose not to have if I knew it was there in the first place.

There's no "stealth" about OC. Yes, there are those out there that do try to slip by. OC isn't one of them.


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Originally Posted by MidnightCowboy View Post
To be honest I'm not much interested in how developers need to fund their software because it is not up to the likes of me to judge them. To suggest though that this is all fine and dandy is stretching the inference that the rest of the world must be wrong to its limits.

Not sure how to respond to that. You seem rather hostile towards developers that are trying to produce tools to help people. Dunno... Am I reading you wrong?



Here's a portion of the site privacy policy here:


Quote:
Collecting information about you

We collect personal information from users who register at our site as well as subscribers to our RSS feeds. The main types of information we collect are contact details, such as email addresses and names. We collect most of this information directly from individuals when they voluntarily register at our web site or subscribe to our RSS feeds.

We also collect statistical information from site visitors through the Google Analytics web statistics service and the Logaholic web service. This information includes details of the browser you use, the operating system you are using and other similar information. Full details can be found on the Google Analytics website and on the Logaholic site. You can disable the collection of this statistical information by turning off JavaScript in your web browser though this may create possible navigation problems for you on this site.

I don't see how that is any different. The moment someone steps on the site, information is collected about them. More information than OC collects. There's no opt-out. No warning. Nothing. Is that not "stealth"?

Now, I'm not trying to say that you're doing anything malcious or anything of the sort. I don't see anything wrong in what you're doing. But applying the same standard, or even a stricter standard, I can't see how OC is doing anything wrong either as it is little different (OC collects less information).

I wouldn't be a "dog with a bone" if the same standard were applied elsewhere as well. But it's not. That's the problem.

In the same line of thought:

Quote:
Using and disclosing your personal information

Our purpose in collecting information about you is to deliver the site services you requested, newsletters and RSS feeds to which you subscribe, to provide any services that you request and to operate our business efficiently.

This website and RSS feeds to which you subscribe may contain advertisements...

Regarding that, you said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MidnightCowboy View Post
Personally, I object to being "stealthed"with something I would otherwise choose not to have if I knew it was there in the first place.
Going in blind, I can't think of anyone that would prior to visiting a site say that they wanted to see ads on it. Some ads are useful. I found out about a few concerts that I went to through ads, and I'm very glad they were there because I wouldn't have known otherwise. (Some concert pics are here.)

But I don't feel ambushed because a site has ads.

I wouldn't call the information collection on a web site "stealth" either. Then again, I do software, and I know about those things. But for someone that isn't tech-savvy, I still don't see that there's any "stealth" going on.

To be honest, I've not seen any ads on the site here, and I find that rather bizarre. I don't know how you fund the site.

Quote:
Do you have premium content?

No, this is a free site and will remain that way.

How is this site funded?

This is a community based site and our aspiration is to keep the site independent and non-commercial. We are not affiliated with any commercial site or software developer.

Currently we are trying to fund this site by donations from site visitors and selling "Gizmo's Freeware" branded merchandise. Any shortfall is funded with the minimum amount of advertising.
It's quite frankly amazing. You guys have done a spectacular job of things. And I haven't seen a single ad.

Heck, if you can afford to support everything yourself, all the more power to you! Philanthropy is a good thing.

So I think I get the context that you're operating under, and the aversion to ads. I only have 1 site that has ads on it, and I was reluctant to put them there, but I wanted to make the software free, and needed some way to try and cover some costs.

To me, it just seems a tad unfair to apply different standards. Not everyone can afford to work for free.

Cheers,

Ryan
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Old 10. Apr 2011, 06:21 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Not sure how to respond to that. You seem rather hostile towards developers that are trying to produce tools to help people. Dunno... Am I reading you wrong?

Maybe my meaning wasn't that clear. I'm not hostile towards developers at all. After all, we'd be in a bit of a sorry state here without them

What I meant to convey was it isn't up to me to tell folks how they should or should not fund their efforts and then distribute it afterwards. I am though entitled to comment on the general circumstances as is everyone else. Ultimately folks like me will vote with their feet but there will always be enough of the others around to make producing this kind of software inclusion a lucrative enough business. The figures from the AV Comparatives security survey I posted in the security thread earlier demonstrate this well enough. Just because it's possible though, doesn't make it right and I think the feedback we have received so far demonstrates that adequately enough.
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Old 11. Apr 2011, 05:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I do not view the position of Gizmo's as an attack. If it were an "attack", then products with OC would have been banned.

To follow up on my comment in my post that's still awaiting moderation, this is the kind of thing that I meant (from here):


Quote:
Originally Posted by NessUSE
To me, this ranks right up there with Sony when they were installing root-kits on PC's so that people couldn't rip a music CD. Freeware distributors want to package OpenCandy with their software, fine, just tell me about it up front so I can decided immediately that I don't want your software. You want to be underhanded and try and sneak it by me, then hopefully Gizmo's will flag it so that I know better.

This is way over-the-top. I'm almost expecting Godwin's Law to come to fruition.

What Sony did is in no way comparable. They hid a rootkit! There's simply no comparison at all.
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