Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Trolls on a mission..
Published on February 11, 2005 By Draginol In Personal Computing

..I'm in a ranting mood...stand back!

Over the years I've noticed a pretty consistent thing - there are people who really really have a problem with the concept of people making a living selling software.

As a result, some of these people make it their mission to go out and harass people (like me) who make a living selling software. 

One example came up today. I am a news moderator on the popular tech news site Neowin.net. I think it's a fantastic site with an incredible staff of volunteers.  But it has a sizeable user population of "l33t" users who a) Think they know everything on tech because, well they're 19 years old and they know everything doncha know? and Non-free software is the devil and any level of nastiness is justified to thwart the purveyers of evil.

One guy today went so far to create an account called "ToadLad" (my account name there is "Frogboy"). Get it? Toad = Frog. Lad = Boy.  Very clever...

Since I post software news on Neowin I also post Stardock's press releases too. On other sites, our media relations goddess does this. But since I'm a news moderator on Neowin, it makes sense for me to go ahead and do this since, essentially I would be the one who would end up approving the final news item.

But this guy went onto a rant that essentially went like this "You just love to spam the world with your crap? You've already got Stardock.com and WinCustomize.com? Why do you have to spam your stuff here?" Here being a Technology NEWS site. And spam being news for software that is (god forbid) not free.

For those not ambitious enough to create fake users to troll the comments, you also have the people who insist on trying to rationalize that any good commercial product has a freeware equivalent.  Photoshop? Oh, the Gimp is much better. Terminal Server? Loser, VNC.  WindowBlinds? No, just hack your uxtheme.dll.  And now with our upcoming Multiplicity program we've got the same crowd chimes in with "Oh, you can do the same thing with Synergy!"

In most of these cases (almost all these cases) these "l33t" users have never actually used the commercial product (see "evil" above).  But they just know because they know everything.  Who cares if the "Free" program has a lot fewer features or is flakey or requires hours of setup time to work? When you're 19, time is all that matters and $20 or whatever is big money to someone who's source of income is their mom. 

I have nothing against free software. I use a lot of free software.  In fact, I use free software whenever I can. I'll take free over commercial any day if it does what I need it to do.  But there is nothing inherently magical about free software. And the downside is that most free software I run into (not all of course, there are very well known examples) have the 80% problem.  They work -- almost.  They tend to often be more proof of concept.

"Sure the screen flickers when you switch desktops and you can't play a full screen game while using it and you have to configure the machines using a text file with arcane configuration fields and it sometimes disconnects for no reason requiring you to reboot...but...it's free!"

I don't think I have a problem so much with the people who try to promote a freeware program. Hey, more power to them. I take the view that people who might potentially buy our product will try out the free alternative, try ours and make their own conclusion.

What I do have a problem with are the people who intentionally go out of their way to try to stifle my right to promote our software.  The double-standards really irritates me. As if free software somehow deserves special treatment because it's "free".  I don't think users should make such distinctions in terms of what gets reported, only in terms of when someone makes a decision on what to actually use.


Comments (Page 2)
on Feb 12, 2005
I'll post my earth shattering response tommorow - In the meantime I stick ny a comment I made a long time ago:

WC and JU should NOT be linked.
on Feb 12, 2005
WOWfactor.555, I agree with pretty much everything you said, but Is Typing Like This Really Necessary?
on Feb 12, 2005
Unfortunately all of this is nothing new, and Stardock and Brad are not the only target. It killed me when the incredibly talented folks at Pixtudio had the audacity to post a screen shot of one of their new suites at Neowin. Forget that they have created some of the most complete and timeless FREE suites, forget that they gave half of the suite away for free. All heck broke loose because they were charging for their hard work. They wanted an entire 8 dollars for a suite, how dare they, how dare they post a screen shot showing what you could have for free and what you had to pay for. Then they got dinged again when they decided to give away one of their older suites. The only reason that I think "The Skins Factory" doesn't catch as much grief is that they get paid directly by corporations for their services. I have always supported formerly free software that I use when a pay version shows up, be it "Cacheman", "Zonealarm", or "Ad-Aware", if I use it and I want it to continue I'm more than willing to register it. Stardock has made so many Free programs, Pixtudio has released so many Free suites, it is just WRONG what they have to put up with, the same goes for anyone that is asking for compensation for their time.

One last thought as a parent of two boys, if either of them actually did some small work around the house I would be more than happy to register or purchase it for them. So the it's 20 dollars is a lot of money doesn't wash with me. If on a Saturday morning one of them got up to mow the lawn to earn the money, after I got off the ground from a heart attack, I would gladly pay the bill. BUT the point is they don't want to earn the money...... they want it for free, or have someone else pay for it.
on Feb 12, 2005
Well WOW Factor you saved me a lot of typing.... teaching is doing... maybe the guy should try teaching a room full of 10, 11, 12 or 18 year olds sometime. Grog, I tried that with my parents and my kids tried it with me, it did not work, my folks cut the size of my meals and other things down to the free level. I had to earn extras. My kids got the basics and earned the extras.... it was not easey but we were the parents... so we had to control the game...it is the same battle every generation... if you give up and let them lay around and get stuff anyway... you and their kids lose...now it is time for this old fart to kid off of his soapbox and go back to his conner... by the way I am a 54 year ols system engeneer and I love the Stardock products....
on Feb 12, 2005
Brad: Haven't you learned by now that the internet is not always a friendly place? Maybe you've gotten spoiled by the fact that WC is one of the friendliest corners of the web. I wouldn't lose too much sleep over the indignation of a few ranting teenagers. I knew everything when I was a teenager. Just ask my parents. Somehow the older I get, the less I seem to know.
(BTW, I'm still a big fan of Stardock products. If you read some of the boards at TweakXP, I've recommended them several times to people who screwed up their PC by hacking the theme.dll or bootscreen rather than paying the $20 for the supported software.)
on Feb 12, 2005
It goes both ways. You don't want people spamming your site and other sites don't want you spamming theirs. Its that simple. How many times can a telemarketer call you before you come unglued? They have probably told you NO a thousand times but marketing must push forward. Heck, wincustomize awards its best spammers with free stuff. Nothing personal just telling it like I think it is.
on Feb 12, 2005
I hardly think posting a "press release" for software is spamming. Neowin has a section just for that purpose, so I don't see how that is "spamming".

Brad is right though, these people complain about paying $20 for software, but won't hesitate to go out and spend $50 on a game.

Anyways, if you want to read a review of some great free software click the link below.

Link



on Feb 12, 2005
I'll post my earth shattering response tommorow - In the meantime I stick ny a comment I made a long time ago:

WC and JU should NOT be linked.


I disagree. Frankly, I had never heard of Stardock, WC, et al, until I came to JoeUser. Since JoeUser is a FREE site, it makes sense that somehow it should be linked to the parent company (it also gives users of the parent company a forum to discuss problems they have with software and read about latest developments; far more interactive than the dry info sites of most software companies...I happen to like it!).
on Feb 12, 2005

Other than WinZip, free software seldom does what its supposed to do and I inevitably wind up uninstalling. Surely those who enhance their programs are entitled to a gain for their efforts.

I would add ZoneAlarm, SpyBot, and AdAware to that list.  But I would agree with the rest of the comment.

And Brad, BTW.  I have both VNC and Terminal services (Admin on 2k and 2k3 is free).  VNC sucks compared to Terminal services!

on Feb 12, 2005
Personally I've NEVER come across free software. Either I've gotten a program that was a CRIPPLED advertisement for a better version or I've received a program that constantly DISPLAYS advertising while I use it or I had to go to a site filled with advertising to obtain it. Other sites want some of your PERSONAL INFORMATION and/or have you sign up for their newsletter before they let you obtain the supposedly free program. Either way IN MY EXPERIENCE there is no such thing as free software.
on Feb 12, 2005
They probably get their games off BearShare or Limewire.
on Feb 12, 2005

Again, Linking Communism With Theft. Erm OK. Plus Calling It Socialist Crap Is No Better Than a person That Says They Hate Racists Then Turns Around And Calls a Police Officer a Pig.

I like that WowFactor.  Thanks.  I am going to use it.

on Feb 12, 2005

Fuzzy Logic isn't young enough to know everything

Fuzzy Logic is very wise.

on Feb 12, 2005

I disagree. Frankly, I had never heard of Stardock, WC, et al, until I came to JoeUser. Since JoeUser is a FREE site, it makes sense that somehow it should be linked to the parent company (it also gives users of the parent company a forum to discuss problems they have with software and read about latest developments; far more interactive than the dry info sites of most software companies...I happen to like it!).

I agree totally Gid.  I came to JU from DailyRotation, But I do like the Technical posts and I am actually thinking of getting the Political Machine for 08! Some liberal talked me into it!

on Feb 12, 2005
From the position of those of us who use the WC forums. The connection with JU has allowed a "point of entry" so to speak for spamming the forum. There is also a bit of confusion at times as to whether a JU article is a request for help or just a rant. There is no easy way to tell if something is a JU article or WC forum post. It might help us if they are given their own section. I can understand why Stardock has it all tied together. I'm not asking they be separated, I just don't wish to be an unknowing blogger.