What do you do when Softpedia scrapes you projects?

actionhero legal node.js 
24 Nov 2012
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Today I woke up to learn that I had made it big!

That’s right, today I have been ‘inducted’ into the annals of internet history as some of my open-source projects have been crawled into Softpedia.

For those of you who don’t know, Softpedia is a website which collects links to various software programs, categorizes them, and offers links to downloads. The "Free Downloads Encyclopedia they call themselves. I know that at some time in my past I must have used Softpedia to find an obscure video codec for VLC or a "free file converter" for that totally legitimate torrent that I downloaded, but since I have moved to OSX (about 6 years ago) I hadn’t used sites like Softpedia very often. A rush of nostalgia rushed over me. However, after clicking around some of the project pages, I began to get frustrated. First off, I couldn’t seem to actually download any of the projects. Every download button I clicked took me to another webiste to download a windows-only "download manager" (Google it if you are curious, I don’t want to give them any more traffic). After a few failed download attempts, I finally realized that Softpedia was actually doing the noble thing and linking visitors to GitHub’s zip of the master branch (albiet via 3 download confirmation pages), but every ad on the page (and there are lots of them) was for a ‘misleading’ download link.

I struggled with what to do next. In the spirit of open source (and my overly-lenient license) I didn’t want stop Softpedia from referencing my projects. Hey, any press is good press right? They also did a good job of categorizing actionHero properly and they seem to be quite good at SEO. I had initially planned to ask them to take down my projects back when I thought all the download links were fraudulent, but I reworded my letter to be the following:

Hello -

I see that you have started to reference a number of my projects on softwpdia [[ http://webscripts.softpedia.com/developer/Evan-Tahler-> 1869788142.html ]].

In the spirit of open source, rather than ask you to remove the links (which I reserve the right to do in the future), I would simply ask that you clarify that all the download links to take the visitor the appropriate github page (IE the download link for actionHero [[ http://webscripts.softpedia.com/script/Development-Tools/Frameworks/actionHero-76758.html ]] should link here [[ https://github.> com/evantahler/actionHero ]] ).

By download links, I include all the ‘ads’ which surround the download page with ‘misleading’ downloads and download managers. I understand that advertising is likely to be a large portion of your revenue, but I only ask that you not mislead visitors who are looking to find my software. I would prefer to not be associated with malware/adware. Many of those links are also confusing as they feature ‘windows only’ download managers for software you have (properly categorized) for many operating systems including OSX, Linux, and Solaris.

I have attached a screen shot of the download page indicating ‘misleading’ links in red, and the ‘real’ link in green. In this way, you still can offer landing pages for my software and don’t need to host any of the downloads. This will offer the user a better experience (and legitimate) software to your visitors.

I think this is reasonable. I don’t want to stop them from doing what they do best, but I really don’t want these projects to be associated with malware. What would you do?

I’ll keep updating here as I hear back from them.

Softpedia responded on November 26th

Hello, Thank you for getting in touch.

We understand your concern, but unfortunately we are unable to guarantee that a ‘download manager’ ad will never show up on the download pages of your products. Sorry about that.

Note that we do try and block them via our Adsense account but new ones show up. Additionally, some ads use behavioural targeting so any block on our side would be ineffective.

We can change the target of the download link to be your Github page, let us know if that will be satisfactory.

We would love to keep listing your software, but we will understand if you would prefer to have it removed

My response

Thanks for the response-

I understand that it might be hard to filter out those types of ads, and it is good to hear that you are trying to block the ‘confusing’ ones. Please change the download links to the github page for the project (IE: https://github.com/evantahler/actionHero), and feel free to keep your pages live for now.

Hi, I'm Evan

I write about Technology, Software, and Startups. I use my Product Management, Software Engineering, and Leadership skills to build teams that create world-class digital products.

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