The Gimp on SourceForge shenanigans


I noticed this message when downloading the latest Mac Gimp binary:

SourceForge, once a useful and trustworthy place to develop and host FLOSS applications, has faced a problem with the ads they allow on their sites – the green “Download here” buttons that appear on many, many adds leading to all kinds of unwanted utilities have been spotted there as well.

We’ve probably all witnessed this dodgy advertising trick on many sites. While insidious, I tended to think the fault lay with ad networks that pushed such dodgy messages onto their clients. They know exactly why such ads are crafted in that way, and they do nothing to stop it. Few other industries I can think of could get away with this.

But then it got worse.

The tipping point was the introduction of their own SourceForge Installer software, which bundles third-party offers with Free Software packages. We do not want to support this kind of behavior, and have thus decided to abandon SourceForge.

Strictly speaking, SF have every right to do this. That said, when FlipForMac tried to install Silverlight on my Mac and hid the preference for doing so unless I chose “Customize”, I can appreciate what a sour taste this leaves.

I think this whole issue raises the idea of “reasonable expectation”. If we download GIMP from SourceForge, I think all but the most hardened marketing guru would agree we don’t reasonably expect other stuff to install as well. This distinction is only more important when one considers the technical competency of the (albeit mythical) “average” internet user.

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