Adware policy concerns

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webfork
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Adware policy concerns

#1 Post by webfork » Mon Aug 17, 2015 6:01 pm

A conversation started up over on the FreeFileSync update entry about adware that has turned into a policy question.

The problem
SYSTEM wrote:TPFC used to have a very strict policy against bundleware or adware. That policy is no longer enforced in practice because programs like FreeFileSync can easily remain in the database even if they start to bundle crapware later on.
Ultimately this runs into one of the difficulties around a democraticly-managed site: just as the dotNET restrictions went away because people wanted it, an adware program got onto the site because people wanted it. Now it looks like an exception has been made that wasn't at all intentional so let's hash this out:

Adware's going to continue to happen. It's an unfortunate reality that programs on the site will continue to go in this direction. When that happens, we will have three options:
  1. Include it with a clear notice about how to decline the install
  2. Find a way around it (whether PA works out a method or via 7-zip/Uniextract)
  3. Immediately ban any program that bundles junkware

Analysis

Since this site has always been a little bit bent towards taking some extra effort via UniExtract, custom config files, etc., lots of programs on the site aren't portable if you don't follow the extract instructions. It seems equally reasonable that additional instructions could reasonably turn an adware program into freeware.

That said, I can't deny that adware is screwing up freeware for everyone. Stuff like this is what keeps the non/semi-technical from trying freeware. Still, I'm uncomfortable with the idea of protecting users from themselves by avoiding anything to do with something that might land adware on their computer.


My suggestion

Allow adware only if there is a way to bypass the "uncheck" screen via 7-zip, Uniextract, or a PA version. I'll make sure to include a notice in the entries around the presence of adware.

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Enternal
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Re: Adware policy concerns

#2 Post by Enternal » Mon Aug 17, 2015 8:39 pm

Adware is here to stay whether we like it or not. So I would say that we "should allow adware if there is a way to bypass the uncheck screen via 7-zip, Uniextract, or a PA version". However I don't think we should be this strict either. Developers got to live and eat so it makes sense that developers rely on adware such as OpenCandy.

That being said, how about we make check to make sure that during the usual extraction process or through the installer itself, the program does not install anything if everything is unchecked. Basically it better not install adware or other programs when everything is unchecked. If that's the case, then it should be allowed on Portable Freeware BUT it should be marked with an Adware notice. If the installer does indeed install adware and crap even though everything is unchecked, then we enforce the rule and remove the program from the general access and put the program in a "grace" period while we reach out to the developer to see if he/she did that on purpose or whether it was a mistake. If it's fixed in the next version, the author can ask us to reinstate it or a verification from several people here to make sure it's fixed.

Because seriously, I know that adware is annoying but some programs are really good and it seems like a waste to throw it out. So basically we use 1 & 2 but not 3. 3 is too strict. Therefore Portable Freeware would be a site where good portable software are promoted and software that comes with adware in the installer are clearly labeled with clear precise instructions on what it is and how to avoid it.

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Re: Adware policy concerns

#3 Post by SYSTEM » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:13 pm

webfork wrote: My suggestion

Allow adware only if there is a way to bypass the "uncheck" screen via 7-zip, Uniextract, or a PA version. I'll make sure to include a notice in the entries around the presence of adware.
I was thinking more about how adware can be "disallowed" in practice. In the case of FreeFileSync, for example, hiding the entry would require at least four members (three R5 + one R1) to withdraw their votes. As I said, it's unlikely to happen no matter what the author of FreeFileSync does in the future. And it will get even more unlikely when members leave this site and aren't around to withdraw their votes.
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Re: Adware policy concerns

#4 Post by Craunch » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:15 am

In my view what you call bundleware is malware, simply because it tries to trick you into installing unwanted software. It might say that it is, for example, OpenCandy that will be installed, but how can you check that that is what the payload really is?

Would it be possible to treat software that has changed its licensing status as a new program requiring a fresh round of approval voting? That way the old version could remain in the database, but the new version would only appear if it got enough votes.

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Re: Adware policy concerns

#5 Post by SYSTEM » Tue Aug 18, 2015 12:49 am

Craunch wrote:Would it be possible to treat software that has changed its licensing status as a new program requiring a fresh round of approval voting? That way the old version could remain in the database, but the new version would only appear if it got enough votes.
That's problematic if the old version of the program is no longer available. In particular, in some cases the license doesn't allow redistribution and therefore no one can legally distribute old versions.
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Re: Adware policy concerns

#6 Post by Craunch » Tue Aug 18, 2015 1:43 am

That's problematic if the old version of the program is no longer available. In particular, in some cases the license doesn't allow redistribution and therefore no one can legally distribute old versions.
In that case, delete the old entry for the program, and create a new one for the new version. That way the version with new license conditions can be voted on as if it were a new program being submitted.

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Re: Adware policy concerns

#7 Post by SYSTEM » Tue Aug 18, 2015 3:07 am

Craunch wrote:
That's problematic if the old version of the program is no longer available. In particular, in some cases the license doesn't allow redistribution and therefore no one can legally distribute old versions.
In that case, delete the old entry for the program, and create a new one for the new version. That way the version with new license conditions can be voted on as if it were a new program being submitted.
Hmm. Your suggestions sound reasonable to me. The main drawbacks would be the hassle of having to vote the same program multiple times, and the possibility of having multiple public entries for the same program.
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Re: Adware policy concerns

#8 Post by Andrew Lee » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:52 pm

I am in favour of freezing the entry at the last non-adware version if we can find a copy and the license allows us to redistribute. We do that for some apps that have gone payware.

If we can't find a copy, then maybe the quickest way for me to downvote it using the admin accountand force it to become private again. This seems preferable having the entry languish in the database in eternity. Of course, this move will only be taken after we have a reasonable discussion and consensus in the forum.

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Re: Adware policy concerns

#9 Post by NickR » Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:23 am

FreeFileSync_setup.exe
I have archived copies of versions
3.3 3.7 3.9 4.0 and 5.3

PM me if they are of use

and I had noted chatter on the forums roughly:
dont go past Version 4 - as too much progress graphs etc
some concerns with problems circa May 2011
author has muddled the version numbers - so look at file dates

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Re: Adware policy concerns

#10 Post by Midas » Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:28 am

My suggestion is, in case a program no longer fits the official TPFC policy and once that has been established (by at least two members?) by the community, it should simply be stripped of all accumulated ratings, thus turning into a private entry.

The advantages of this would be twofold: the entry is retained for future referral and should the program change after the fact, the entry can be rated into visibility again by willing members...

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Re: Adware policy concerns

#11 Post by webfork » Thu Jul 06, 2017 7:38 pm

NickR wrote:I have archived copies of versions 3.3 3.7 3.9 4.0 and 5.3
Thanks for posting about that but I personally want to stick with the PortableApps version. I spent a lot of time and energy on FreeFileSync and was frustrated at every turn. There's many great alternatives out there that don't come with all the nonsense that the FFS developer decided to throw in.
Midas wrote:My suggestion is, in case a program no longer fits the official TPFC policy and once that has been established (by at least two members?) by the community, it should simply be stripped of all accumulated ratings, thus turning into a private entry.
We have something in place for that. If something just obviously doesn't belong (e.g. starts including malware like OpenCandy), then we can take it out of the database without contacting all the voters.
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Re: Adware policy concerns

#12 Post by Midas » Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:46 am

webfork wrote:We have something in place for that. If something just obviously doesn't belong (e.g. starts including malware like OpenCandy), then we can take it out of the database without contacting all the voters.
  • That doesn't seem ideal, as then no record of the issue will remain... private entries serve the purpose of recording issues and displaying warning, IMHO.

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Re: Adware policy concerns

#13 Post by webfork » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:03 pm

Midas wrote:That doesn't seem ideal, as then no record of the issue will remain... private entries serve the purpose of recording issues and displaying warning, IMHO.
Of course you're right - I should have been more clear: we don't delete entries entirely, they instead get moved to private. I try to add a clear warning message or remove links to any malicious (or spammy) programs.
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Re: Adware policy concerns

#14 Post by Midas » Sun Jul 09, 2017 1:41 pm

Oh, great then. 8)

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