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DonGato

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 11:04 am

This topic is in constant evolution so the info might be enriched each day. Your collaboration is a key part on that.

The purpose of this thread is to make people aware of some tactics used in extensions considered by some people not worthy of the AMO (addons.mozilla.org) "trust" seal. It has also the purpose of discussing the AMO quality standards and the views on these and other extensions that might be considered harmful for common non-tech-savvy users.

At the end of September meatus brought to light to the mozillaZine community the actions made by a set of extensions build upon the same code base. Those extensions were collecting data and uniquely identifying users without notifying them. This caused some stir into the community as most of the people thought that AMO had a high quality standard and sought to protect users from such tactics, things that we realized weren't true. AMO doesn't even have a policy for extension submitting.

After that a lot of discussion was done (you can read the full thread here). Some people treating them as Spyware and some others saying they weren't doing anything wrong. The AMO stand on this was mostly ignoring it.

The issue picked up more heat when the developers submitting these extensions started to systematically abuse the system because of an AMO code bug (we can't call it a real bug but AMO put too much trust into developers). They started to bump their extensions into a daily basis effectively hijacking the AMO newest listing. This brought more people concerned about the issue and made some, like me, start a deep review of an extension's inners as well as learning about all the facts about them. The findings are posted at the old thread. RenegadeX posted a complaint into Remora (the next iteration of AMO codebase) Idea Dump that is a page for discussing/proposing changes for this new AMO revision.

A list of the extensions being driven by Conduit (used to be named "Effective Brand") code was made and is attached next to this introduction. Conduit offers simple template-built toolbar extensions for Firefox which can be made in a matter of minutes by anyone - no programming know-how required. With this service they can build a tool integrated into Mozilla and related to an already existing community (as they state). Some people say this is a benefit for people and some say they don't serve any useful purpose. AMO doesn't judge the usefulness of an extension. What we really know is the point of view of some toolbar creators. This view is shared among toolbar makers in Conduit support/discussion forum.

The dissatisfaction with AMO admins was growing larger as they weren't doing anything to stop the mess, and some heated accusations were issued. To cut down the rage and start moving forward we started to fill bug reports for the extensions that still weren't warning users about data collection. A policy draft was posted and a talk back page linked so the community can help build the AMO extension policy. A description of an improved review process for extensions to be added to Remora was also posted at a personal blog. fligtar, an AMO developer and admin, was the one posting at the original thread as a spokesperson for AMO.

Regretfully, there weren't further comments by AMO admins and fligtar told the community that they wouldn't be participating anymore in the thread, ostensibly because of some abusive comments. They said they would use a blog for further communication with the community, but until today is still empty. There was also no feedback in the talk back page for the AMO policy. These things effectively cut down the nexus between the community and the people administering the addons site.

JohnM555 posted a Greasemonkey user script that hides these toolbars from AMO. A solution for people that really hate to see them listed at AMO.

These extensions' developers are still abusing AMO by listing them in lot of unrelated categories, so while browsing security you see extensions that don't have security as their main focus or specialty. There will be a limit (not yet decided) for the number of categories an extension can advertise into, but that will see the light with Remora that has no set release date.


List of extensions (93 extensions, updated to November 26)

Abandonia Toolbar by SupSuper: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
All Yours Chat Toolbar by Admin: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
Anderson Tech Club Toolbar by Kuru Oujou: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
Atom-Sounds Toolbar by Atom Sounds: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
Australia-Radio Toolbar by Joni: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 1, 2006
BBC Bar by Adams: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 4, 2006
Bibirmer Toolbar by David Gordon: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 9, 2006
BobDawgs Pad Toolbar by Robert LaFont, Jr: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
BX Toolbar by Shaggy Software: Version 1.0.1.26, released on Oct 3, 2006
CaresforKids Toolbar by Terry Ballantini: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 25, 2006
Casino Free Money Toolbar by Sergiy Zapisniy: Version 1.0.1.19, released on Jul 15, 2006
Celebs Toolbar by ToolooT Promotions: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 10, 2006
Cengoo.de Toolbar by dersimli: Version 1.0.1.25, released on Sep 28, 2006
CGToolbar by amit: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 23, 2006
Cowgirl Image Toolbar by Cowgirl Image: Version 1.0.1.19, released on Jul 15, 2006
Cowgirl Model Toolbar by Cowgirl Model: Version 1.0.1.19, released on Jul 10, 2006
Dating & Personals Toolbar by Nancy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 9, 2006
Deutschland Radio by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 13, 2006
digg.com extension Toolbar by Gareth Poole: Version 1.0.1.28, released on Oct 21, 2006
DVDEmpire Toolbar by Erik Truby: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 12, 2006
EMail_Notifier Toolbar by Shay Refaely: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 7, 2006
ezPharmacyFinder Toolbar by Stuart: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
Forecaster by Arvi: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 1, 2006
Free The Dog Toolbar by FreeTheDog: Version 1.0.1.24, released on Sep 24, 2006
GameSpot Deluxe Toolbar by CorporatBologna: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
GAVSGUIDANCE HELPER Toolbar by Gavin Davies: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 13, 2006
Grigor's_Blog Toolbar by Gregory: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 13, 2006
H2Press Toolbar by Mike Riess: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 13, 2006
Holy Land Radio by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 3, 2006
HOT-IL Toolbar by Shay Refaely: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 27, 2006
HotWildMisty Toolbar by Hot Wild Misty: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
iasec Toolbar by gerald: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 26, 2006
Indian Radio ToolY Toolbar by Arpit Arora: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 13, 2006
international football Toolbar by steve: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 11, 2006
isr Toolbar by Sharon Steiman: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 1, 2006
Israel Radio (Hebrew Version) by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 3, 2006
Israel Radio by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 3, 2006
Jazz Radio by yotam mazar: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 1, 2006
krenar Toolbar by krenar: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
MailMan by Adams: Version 2.0, released on Nov 7, 2006
marvz14 Toolbar by Marvin: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
Michad Computer Consulting Toolbar by Wolf Windshadow: Version 1.0.1.28, released on Oct 30, 2006
MikeAndPetra Toolbar by Petra Richardson: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
MillBar Toolbar by Pelle: Version 1.0.1.14, released on May 12, 2006
Mojabosna Toolbar by Ado: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 12, 2006
Movie Toolbar by Guy Malachi: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 21, 2006
My Informational Toolbar by John: Version 1.0.1.14, released on May 14, 2006
myCampusDates Toolbar by Terry Ballantini: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 25, 2006
myDirtyDates Toolbar by Terry Ballantini: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 25, 2006
myMatchDates Toolbar by Terry Ballantini: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 25, 2006
MyOrkut Toolbar by Arvi: Version 1.0.2.28, released on Nov 1, 2006
myVegasBets Toolbar by Terry Ballantini: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 21, 2006
Nederland Radio by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 3, 2006
neoaddict Toolbar by Brian: Version 1.0.1.24, released on Sep 26, 2006
NewYork Radio Addon by Ronen Chen: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Oct 31, 2006
Nifty Gifts Toolbar by Tyler Munder: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
night life Toolbar by ToolooT Promotions: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 10, 2006
Online Games Toolbar by Guy Malachi: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 1, 2006
Online Video by Shay Refaely: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 7, 2006
Partnerprogramme Toolbar by Karsten Windfelder: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
PartyPokerBar Toolbar by Richard gold: Version 1.0.1.19, released on Jul 9, 2006
Podcast Search Toolbar by Alex: Version 1.0.1.19, released on Jul 10, 2006
Poker Bar Toolbar by Richard gold: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 16, 2006
profadi Toolbar by Radarette O'Reilly: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 13, 2006
Radio & Gobierno de Puerto Rico - ApoyoTecnico.Com by Magallanes: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 8, 2006
Radio DE Toolbar by dersimli: Version 1.0.1.24, released on Sep 27, 2006
Radio Denmark Toolbar by Ehud Z.: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 12, 2006
Radio Russia by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 3, 2006
Radio UK by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 10, 2006
RadioMan by Arvi: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 1, 2006
ralphtips Toolbar by Amer: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
Reel New Media Toolbar by Roula Eatrides: Version 1.0.1.27, released on Oct 12, 2006
Runescape Toolbar by Chris Cunliffe: Version 1.0.1.21, released on Aug 12, 2006
ServMap Toolbar by ServMap: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 19, 2006
SETI-HOME Toolbar by Sharon Steiman: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 1, 2006
SK Software Toolbar by SK Software: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 13, 2006
SparkleBox Toolbar by SparkleBox Teacher Resources: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
Subliminal Directions Toolbar by Subliminal Directions: Version 1.0.1.28, released on Oct 20, 2006
Tbtoyl Toolbar by Massimo DAmico: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 22, 2006
Telliss Toolbar by Terry Ballantini: Version 1.0.1.20, released on Jul 25, 2006
The Fuller Brush Place Toolbar by LadyPzaz: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 1, 2006
Torrent Search by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 13, 2006
Torrent-Bar Toolbar by Joni: Version 1.0.1.30, released on Nov 14, 2006
torrentools Toolbar by Francesco Passantino: Version 1.0.1.24, released on Sep 27, 2006
trovando Toolbar by Francesco Passantino: Version 1.0.1.24, released on Sep 27, 2006
Turkije.Org Toolbar by Turkije.org: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 12, 2006
webpedia Toolbar by Francesco Passantino: Version 1.0.1.24, released on Sep 27, 2006
Wikipedia Toolbar by Arvi: Version 1.0.2.28, released on Nov 1, 2006
WineZap Toolbar by Enos: Version 1.0.1.18, released on Jun 27, 2006
Worldgroups Toolbar by Playful: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 3, 2006
Ynet News RSS (Hebrew Version) by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.17, released on May 31, 2006
Ynet RSS English by Guy Levy: Version 1.0.1.29, released on Nov 3, 2006
YOUTHERE1.com's Toolbar by YOUTHERE1.com: Version 1.0.1.19, released on Jul 10, 2006

NOTE: if you find one not listed here please tell me so and also, if there is one listed that isn't related to the issue please tell me so I can remove it and I give the developer my advanced apology for including it.
Last edited by DonGato on December 19th, 2006, 2:55 am, edited 4 times in total.

RenegadeX

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 11:18 am

EDIT: good stuff - DonGato has addressed my comments from the last post of the original thread right before it was locked.
Last edited by RenegadeX on December 18th, 2006, 11:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

DonGato

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 11:25 am

Well, updated with all your comments.

1. Removed the reference to November as the issue was always active as you said.
2. Fixed that wording about developer ignorant.
3. Linked the analysis as it doesn't provide a value similar to the space it waste. Anyway, I think that it proves they uniquely identify users, thing they were denying before (not now).

Thanks for the help.

steviex
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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 12:47 pm

Any chance of stickyfying this. The list posted above will be useful to use a guide and also to refer posters to. Cheers.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -Albert Einstein

Please DO NOT PM me for support... Lets keep it on the board, so we can all learn.

JohnM555
 
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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 2:32 pm

Great post DonGato, thanks :)

Judge Mental

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 2:41 pm

steviex wrote:Any chance of stickyfying this.


Good idea :-)

The original thread has been watched with interest and I'm very pleased to see THIS one. Good work DonGato et al.

DonGato

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 5:14 pm

You should thank all the people that voiced their opinion and helped make a case about this issue.
I think that having it as a sticky would be a good choice to remind AMO admins that the concerns weren't handled yet.

kevin1979
 
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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 5:16 pm

thanks DonGato :), your efforts are much appreciated. i wish certain people in charge of AMO were as proactive and diligent as you have been.

i also vote for this being a proper Sticky.

The Ex Omega
 
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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 8:17 pm

Forward it to the Newsgroups.

It might get the attention of the higher ups that don't read Mozillazine forums.

DonGato

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 9:47 pm

Well, maybe this addition to the summary would help know the real intention behind these toolbars: http://www.make-money-toolbar.com/
It's not helping users as most extensions and theme developers do, but plain and simple making money.

mightyglydd

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 11:45 pm

Wow^straight from the horses mouth! Worth adding I would say.....a perfect summary.....summary. $650 a day!...not bad.
# KeepFightingMichael

Scarlettrunner20

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Post Posted December 18th, 2006, 11:50 pm

Thank you so much DonGato. Great post. I was part of the old thread and I share your concern and I hope this is made a sticky.

thyristor

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Post Posted December 19th, 2006, 6:19 am

DonGato wrote:Well, maybe this addition to the summary would help know the real intention behind these toolbars: http://www.make-money-toolbar.com/
It's not helping users as most extensions and theme developers do, but plain and simple making money.


omg... that link should be spreaded around in the guy's toolbar comments at AMO.
so now we have evidence of profit being made using mozilla.org hosting resources. they should get a piece of the pie :D
I saved the text where he explains his scam, just in case he changes the page.

+1 sticky

RAF
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Post Posted December 19th, 2006, 8:30 am

What's all this talk about a Sticky? You want a Sticky? You'll get a Sticky.

Ahriman
 
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Post Posted December 19th, 2006, 12:28 pm

Curiously enough, www.conduit.com was renewed past 26 June, and www.make-money-toolbar.com was renewed 29 June. Both are Israel based, and both were renewed close in time.

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