Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Be careful when downloading software

Posted by Michael Horowitz
August 20, 2007 12:19 PM PDT

Like so much else on the Internet, you have to be skeptical about the star ratings of software. Perhaps you suspected this, but now there is proof.

A software developer in the U.K., Andy Brice, was suspicious about the ratings assigned to his software, so he did a test--a lab experiment if you will. He started with a plain text file that said "this program does nothing at all" a few times. Then he renamed the file so that it ended with ".exe" and submitted it to 1,033 download sites. The "program," if you can call it that, won't even run.

Being as obvious as he possibly could, Andy called the program "awardmestars" and included a description of the program that said, "This software does nothing at all." He even included a screenshot that said very plainly that the software does nothing. See his blog for the full details: The software awards scam.

Andy says his nonfunctional software was listed on 218 Web sites, and some even gave him an award. "Approximately 7 percent of the sites that listed the software e-mailed me that it had won an award," he said. His submission was rejected by 421 Web sites, but since he listed it as a utility, many of these rejections were because the site didn't include that type of software. Many submissions are still pending. ...

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