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 9)
on Feb 20, 2005

Well if that's the case, then his argument is even more unreasonably IMO.  Since then he would essentially be saying that he doesn't buy Stardock's programs because Stardock doesn't censor the opinions of those he disagrees with.

Besides, we've all been on WC for a long time, some thread getting political is nothing new for WinCustomize. And it's not JoeUser's fault (JU isn't a political site either btw, it covers every topic under the sun). WinCustomize would have a personal computing forum regardless.

on Feb 26, 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.


Got some serious bad news for you.....this isn't FREE software either....remember that little splash screen with the "Use the evaluation version" button you've been clicking on for years and years...well right beside it about 1/2 the time is another button that says "Purchase WINZIP" now.

The splash screen for 9.1 even has in big letters right above that button "THIS IS NOT FREE SOFTWARE."

on Feb 26, 2005
Weaksid looks in and decides not to even touch this
on Mar 12, 2005
Very interesting article guys. Keep up the good work. Anyway heres my 2 cents.... theres 2 types of people in life i reckon. People who care about others and people who don't and Capitalism fosters the latter. Its true man, think about it.