Big shock, huh? Slashdot, known for their world-class editorial standards, cited the recent BusinessWeek story about Yahoo and decided that I was complaining about Yahoo! supporting adware.

Of course, I wasn't. Neither site bothered to link to my blog post about it (for fear their readers would form their own opinions, perhaps?) or the surrounding context--the two stories I quoted heavily in my own post (1, 2).

What I was commenting on is bundling of one download with another and, more specifically, the fact that one installs the other or makes "helpful" changes (like default search engine or home page) by default rather than being an opt-in process.

Of all the people I asked recently, nobody can find any evidence that I was writing about spyware, adware, or malware. Well, nobody except the folks at Slashdot, I guess.

If you read the BusinessWeek story carefully you likely get what I was complaining about. But not so on the short tidbit posted to Slashdot. Luckily the average BusinessWeek reader is likely to be a bit more thoughtful about such things.

Is Slasholes a word yet?

At least I've got a place where I can attempt to correct their lack of information (and links). Guys, this is 2005! We're supposed to link to sources we cite on the web. Didn't you get that memo?

The funny part is that I really expected to hear from Yahoo! PR, Legal, or Terry Semel's body guard (just kidding) about this stuff. But I didn't. Not a peep. I did hear from a lot of my co-workers and it sparked several very interesting discussions. But nobody from on high said, "you know, we really wish you hadn't written that." Maybe it's because they know that I know that already.

No, the thing that got me... motivated enough to say something now was seeing my name and my words used on Slashdot to paint the company I work for in a more negative way than is justified.

Sorry to disappointed the rationally thinking Slashdot crowd, but there's no adware, malware, or spyware in our software. If you want to perpetuate the "Google is Good but all other Big Companies are Evil" thinking, feel free. But try to use facts instead of fiction. It really makes you look more lame than you already are.

Posted by jzawodn at September 20, 2005 06:29 PM

Reader Comments
# Tom Becker said:


That's awesome.

on September 20, 2005 06:36 PM
# Dare Obasanjo said:

In my experience, people from on high rarely bother folks for blogging except to commend them. Most of the flak comes from co-workers and peers.

Or at least that has been my experience at Microsoft.

on September 20, 2005 07:31 PM
# Ryan said:

Wander over the other side of B, you'll find slashdork all the rage.

on September 20, 2005 08:28 PM
# Mike said:

The most damning gripe about Yahoo concerns its involvement in the controversial adware biz. Adware is downloaded onto PCs -- often without a user's consent -- and spawns pop-ups based on where the user goes online. Yahoo has been criticized for cutting deals with adware companies wherein ads by Yahoo clients appear in pop-ups; Yahoo then splits the revenue with the adware outfits.

What is that all about though?

on September 20, 2005 09:02 PM
# Alex Moskalyuk said:

Yeah, I think the BW story implied there was link between adware companies and Yahoo's ad sales (Overture? or Y's own? not sure) as far revenue splitting, not adware revenues and Yahoo's products. I have my doubts about the adware links - from the experience I got cleaning people's computers, the pop-ups and adware is usually porn/lottery/affiliate search kind of junk, but maybe the ad sales people need to come clean on this and state for the record there's no link.

on September 20, 2005 09:31 PM
# James Day said:

So far I've had good fortune with Slashdot and using it to help promote Wikipedia donations and occasionally MySQL. It's only a matter of time until my luck runs out...

Google makes mistakes as well, of course. Their blog search indexed the RSS or Atom the LiveJournal accounts which had robot settings for noindex, nofollow, noarchive in the HTML version. Hopefully it'll be fixed soon and hopefully Yahoo and other players in blog search haven't made the same mistake and circumvented robots directives that way...

Did take LiveJournal playing along and providing the Atom and RSS to the search engine crawlers, though, so it's far from only being Google's responsibility.

One big difference is that the Google bit was mistake, at least on the Google end, while the Yahoo stuff was deliberate.

Yahoo does do good (and so does Google). The servers Yahoo provided to Wikipedia in Korea are now entering limited initial service, the yellow here: . Still in the very early stages of setup and ramp-up. Thanks!

Will be fixed soon, was a mistake:

It's providing them on SERPs:

on September 21, 2005 05:44 AM
# Harsh said:

I had read that reference post in your blog and I know you will respond this way.
Thanks for answering, few questions remained that need to be answered regarding the checkboxes hope you answer that too.

on September 21, 2005 11:28 AM
# Ray Everett-Church said:

The problem is that Google is, in many ways, even worse on these "consumer friendliness" issues because it puts forward a "holier than thou" attitude that isn't supported by its actions. But what gets my goat are those who set up false comparisons -- such as those in the BusinessWeek article (e.g., "Yahoo's having a tough time defending itself while Google's oh-so consumer friendly") -- and can't seem to find the exact same glaring flaws at Google. Intellectual dishonesty is rampant in the analyst and tech media community, especially where Google is concerned. It certainly isn't going to be pretty when Google's most-favored status wears off and people stop ignoring the flaws. No more flaws than most other companies... just too much wedding cake and champagne still influencing the honeymoon.

on September 21, 2005 01:04 PM
# Jeffrey Friedl said:

Slashdot still exists?

on September 22, 2005 01:26 AM
# Ben Edelman said:

I agree that the Slashdot intro was not helpful. The better link (better than your blog) for the claim that Yahoo is actively supporting adware is my own piece on this subject, How Yahoo Funds Spyware, , showing Yahoo ads running not just in Claria, but also 180solutions, Direct Revenue, eXact Advertising, and also numerous smaller spyware vendors so obscure that most folks haven't even heard of them. It's too bad Slashdot didn't link to that; that might have sparked soem truly interesting discussion.

Alex, as to your 9/20 9:31pm message, this definitely occurs. See all the screenshots and packet logs on my site.

Ray, as to your 9/21 1:04pm message, I do think Yahoo's practices here are considerably worse than Google's. I spend a lot of time testing a lot of spyware, and I see Yahoo Overture ads syndicated by spyware probably 40 times as often as I see Google's ads. When I see Google, I do write about it (see ), so I don't think I have a double standard here. But as to the problem of ads syndicated into spyware, it seems that Yahoo has been much more indiscriminate than Google. Hence the focus in my article on Yahoo. And note that I say this specifically in the article: "Yahoo's funding of spyware is not unique. I've recently written about Google's funding of similar bad actors. [links] But in my hands-on testing of various spyware-infected PCs, I find that I receive Yahoo-syndicated ads more frequently than I receive such ads from any other single PPC network."

on September 22, 2005 03:43 PM
# e said:

"What I was commenting on is bundling of one download with another and, more specifically, the fact that one installs the other or makes "helpful" changes (like default search engine or home page) by default rather than being an opt-in process."

So you weren't talking about malware, just software that happens to fit exactly the same definition?

Look, I like Yahoo a lot. It's my home page. I pay for your services and use them evey day. But I also remember it being real hard to shut off all the Yahoo branded "unhelpfulware" that came bundled on two recent computer purchases.

on September 23, 2005 03:58 PM
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