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What to do about Junk Firefox Ad-Ons??

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meatus
 
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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 12:50 pm

I thought I should bring to everyone's attention that are a few junk Firefox Add-Ons that are collecting user-information, and whose "central features" are nothing more than commission-based links. This really bothers me: the people who make these plug-in are leeches exploiting the fruits of an open source project for personal benefit. Every moral fiber in me (and there aren't many) says they should be stopped.

For example, this add-on, <a href="https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2607/">Torrent Search Bar 1.0.1.21</a> by Guy Levy (and his other projects too) are all toolbars designed by <a href="http://www.ourtoolbar.com/">this marketing company</a> that offer next-to-no-content (just a keyword-filtered RSS feed) in exchange for your personal information and searches.

The strange thing is, that many people who are using these "services" actually <a href="https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/2607/comments/">claim to enjoy them</a>. Although I recommend taking these sorts of ad-ons off (to encourage better ones), it's like smoking cigarettes or using heroin for recreation--does Mozilla want to protect these users from themselves?

At the very least, I think some notice should be put on these ad-ons. As they stand now, distributed from mozilla.org, they are using the good name of the Mozilla foundation to distribute something that does nasty things to the user.

What do you think should be done?

Best wishes,
Dustin

the-edmeister

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 2:22 pm

That - http://www.ourtoolbar.com/ - Conduit - is the new website of the infamous Effective Brands.
https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=326579

I agree that something needs to be done to protect users from themselves regarding those toolbars. IMHO AMO should just take down those extensions and come up with a set of acceptable, published parameters about what an extension can do and what it can't.

The strange thing is, that many people who are using these "services" actually claim to enjoy them.
In my mind 'torrents' equate to illegal multi-media files being shared by the 'underground'. Is is immoral or wrong to steal from thieves?

Ed
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Thumper

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 3:26 pm

the-edmeister wrote:IMHO AMO should just take down those extensions and come up with a set of acceptable, published parameters about what an extension can do and what it can't.


Have you actually made this opinion available to them. There's an AMO Bugzilla component.

In my mind 'torrents' equate to illegal multi-media files being shared by the 'underground'.


That's nice. I'd argue that basically the entire Free Software community using non-Windows software would disagree with you, of course.

- Chris

Frank Lion

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 3:40 pm

Thumper wrote:
the-edmeister wrote:IMHO AMO should just take down those extensions and come up with a set of acceptable, published parameters about what an extension can do and what it can't.

Have you actually made this opinion available to them. There's an AMO Bugzilla component.

I have. As in, I have ACTUALLY made this opinion known to them. What is your point?
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the-edmeister

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 3:54 pm

Frank,
The point is that this thread is now 'validated' with the resident curmudgeon making his appearance.

Chris wrote:I'd argue that basically the entire Free Software community using non-Windows software would disagree with you, of course.

And that is, what, about 5% of the Open Source community?


Ed
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Thumper

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 4:06 pm

the-edmeister wrote:The point is that this thread is now 'validated' with the resident curmudgeon making his appearance.


Spare me. If something annoys me I file a bug on it. I fail to see how flaming people who actually care about free software (or making cryptic trolls like frank does) is being any more useful to the community. Again, have you filed a bug report or are you just flapping your fingers?

- Chris

Frank Lion

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 4:10 pm

Thumper wrote:or making cryptic trolls like frank does

I beg your pardon? I asked you for your point, not abuse. Behave yourself.
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the-edmeister

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 4:23 pm

just flapping for now.
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old zmanzero
 
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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 4:49 pm

http://www.ourtoolbar.com/Solutions/HowItWorks.aspx

yea, this isn't a good thing. they're making money out of fx. the comments section at addons looks like it's being skewed in the last week to give it a higher rating. this smells.

a;skdjfajf;ak

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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 5:10 pm

Perhaps they should just rename AMO to AMT (Add-More-Toolbars) :lildevil:

donkeyboy
 
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Post Posted September 19th, 2006, 8:42 pm

Surely AMO should be testing extensions for these types of things?
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dk70
 
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Post Posted September 20th, 2006, 2:15 am

The only problem is they are not extensions but product of a toolbar generator. So you get dozens of them. Most have not even used the more advanced features. Useless and waste of space on update site. "Author" has never seen source code - may be that should be a requirement for approval?

Collecting anonymous data is not spying though some will claim that http://rdmsoft.com/r/blog/340 Compared to todays internet why is this spyware?. A businessmodel is something else.

You do know most of your actions on a forum like this can be tracked right? Ever seen Google Analytics from the inside? Each and every tiny blog use that, beside ads - Conduit is just part of all that.

If they really do misuse personal data then it will not take long to prove - not like they are hiding out. Even have a public forum. Ive recently seen 2 guys crying about being rejected. Reviewers main point was just this about author vs. Conduit vs policy.

http://forum.effectivebrand.net/index.php?topic=2428.0
http://forum.effectivebrand.net/index.php?topic=2436.0

I think reviewer is on thin ice but so is "author" when being question as real author. Other reviewers have been satisfied with generic privacy policy provided by Conduit. This one needs more, knowing he wont get it :)

Frank Lion

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Post Posted September 20th, 2006, 7:06 am

Let's make this a little clearer for people.

Addons is being made a fool of here. Addons has a reputation to consider and instead of agonising on this, I suggest they pull all of this nonsense off Addons immediately.

We may be in the Open Source community, but the commercial world is obviously not and they will do anything to foist their cheap, nasty stuff onto the unsuspecting.

dk70 is correct also about the toolbar generator part. I have friends who are real extension writers, do you know just how long it takes to write a good extension? What incentive is it to them when some ill-educated oaf can spend 5 minutes on a generator and say,

"lol, hi guys, im aslo a Foxfire extanson riter!"

The sooner this crap is removed, the better.

I shall be again discussing this topic with Mike Morgan from Addons and linking this thread to that.
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dk70
 
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Post Posted September 20th, 2006, 8:08 am

That is called "programming snobbery" at Conduit forums! They also discuss 1 star ratings etc. But yes that is another annnoying side effect. People who have never seen source code pretending they have actually made an effort and showing off "our" policy to get approval.

The mentioned link to Bugzilla https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=326579 already discuss concerns and what needs to be done. I think problem is it will be hard to prove anything malicious in latest version but that does not make them extensions. When asked a few simple questions "authors" run back to Conduit and ask for help.

So now some cant get approval while others are veterans? They need to treat them all the same.

Symantec calls it trackware which is true but tracking does not have to be bad if user know details. Also it track clicks not really what you clicked. Same with searching, you can chose not to include their own search url("search page" but use ordinary Google. Using theirs is the whole idea and how they make money. Some features is not available if you disable! Same thing maker of Avant Browser tried recently - if url not found you were directed to some search stuff Avant was part of/affiliated or what it was. He got told that would make browser close to Adware and so took it out. But tried, many try...

Hyperwords is great https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/1941/ but also tracks usage, now optional. "Hyperwords™ tracks usage statistics including what commands are use, but not including what page it was used on nor on what text and also never on who uses Hyperwords™. On version 1.3.3 and up this can be turned off in Preferences." Try go back in comments pages - Im sure you will see SPYWARE warnings. Very similar to Conduit.

J-Mac

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Post Posted September 20th, 2006, 9:07 am

Let them know my opinion?

That's tantamount to writing to spyware companies and telling them my opinion of their malware. Do you really think either would take my opinions seriously, Thumper? What a BS reply that was!

AMO derives a large amount of credibility by having a direct subdomain of the Mozilla.org domain. IMO, Mozilla needs to take some responsibility itself and clean up this garbage. Mozilla receives a lot of press based on their much higher level of security offered than IE; AMO and these toolbars really tear at that reputation!
J-Mac

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