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You Say GIMP Was Right

GIMP logoBack in November, the popular open source image editing program GIMP ended their association with SourceForge and dropped the site as its host. Since that time, downloads of GIMP have no longer been available on the site but have been moved to the GIMP’s website.

The split was the result of GIMP’s concern over policies at SourceForge, primarily SourceForge’s use of DevShare, an installer for Windows that bundles third party software offers with FOSS downloads. In addition, the GIMP folks had reservations about potentially deceptive “download here” buttons on ads being served by the likes of Google’s AdSense.

There were two sides to this story, of course.

SourceForge’s defense was that DevShare was designed to be a way to help bring much needed funds to open source projects and that it was being offered on an opt-in basis.

“In July 2013, we launched a pilot version of an opt-in revenue-sharing program called DevShare. DevShare is a partnership program offered to SourceForge developers to turn downloads into a source of revenue for them, by bundling their applications with third parties’ offers. This revenue will help these projects grow, help the developers keep contributing to the Open Source community, and help us keep offering free hosting, distribution, and other services. …

“The DevShare program has been designed to be fully transparent. The installation flow has no deceptive steps, all offers are fully disclosed, and the clear option to completely decline the offer is always available. All uninstallation procedures are exhaustively documented, and all third party offers go through a comprehensive compliance process to make sure they are virus and malware free.”

[yop_poll id=”30″]

Here at FOSS Force, we thought both sides had valid arguments–so we did what we always do in these cases, we asked you what you thought. In other words, we ran a poll. In our Grok the GIMP Poll we asked, “Was GIMP right to walk away from SourceForge?” The results have now been tallied.

A whopping 76% of you agreed with GIMP and said “yes,” they were entirely justified in their actions with only 7% of those taking the poll ticking the “no” box. 17% of you shrugged (we imagine) and answered “I don’t know.”

The way we see it, these results don’t automatically negate SourceForge’s argument in favor of GIMP’s. They merely indicate support for GIMP’s actions without necessarily indicating that those projects that continue their association with SourceForge are “wrong.” To find out how many of you think SourceForge should drop the use of DevShare we’d need to run a whole ‘nother poll.

We think we’ll pass on that.


  1. W. Anderson W. Anderson January 22, 2014

    I had written directly to SourceForge expressing my grave concerns about their new Ad affiliation program, precisely because many dozens of my PC customers had experienced ‘deceptive’ downloading of malicious “proprietary” software instead of the Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) they had requested.

    If, and that is IF Sourceforge enacted very strict and monitored policies for Ad backed downloads that would – apparently – be very difficult to confuse most downloaders, then the issue is resolved. That, however depends on the resolve of Sourceforge to enforce required changes from ad vendors.

    Otherwise Sourceforge would be acceding to the laziness and ambivalence of their partners – just – to make money more easily.

  2. Mike Mixer Mike Mixer January 22, 2014

    I don’t download anything from sourcefraud anymore so if they were having problems with bandwidth costs they solved em for sure.

  3. adam adam January 22, 2014

    Yeah, if you download FileZilla from sourceforge and run the installer, you click first button, Next, you see Sourceforge, FileZilla and then in small icon The Weather Channel and in the same location as before where your mouse cursor is, you see a big green Accept button and on the left you see a white Decline button.

    Sourceforge is being disingenuous. It’s manipulating Human Factors Engineering principles to install 3rd party crapware. They are slime for the way they do this. It’s social engineering. Try it yourself.

    Now I understand why a customer of mine had so much crapware on their machine.

  4. j.biddy j.biddy January 23, 2014

    I don’t think I have a problem with them offering crapware per se, though it does suck. I do have a problem when it’s sneaky. Switching buttons around, making you click to deselect adware, etc. I think the DOWNLOAD HERE links served by Google AdSense are a far worse source of malware and other unwanted nuisances.

  5. CFWhitman CFWhitman January 23, 2014

    Well, it’s actually DevShare that is using social engineering techniques to get users to agree to the crapware installs. SourceForge is just being a bit disingenuous about how close to “deception” this engineering comes.

    Of course the ads are another matter entirely. They are clearly misleading, but I have to admit, not nearly as misleading as on many other sites.

    I haven’t encountered that much problem because I’m not generally downloading Windows executables. I guess that made me a bit oblivious to the current state of affairs on SourceForge.

  6. taikedz taikedz January 23, 2014

    The misleading “Download Here” ads are enough of a reason.

    It confuses me, and I look hard – imagine the avergae user who wants GIMP and gets extra pages they think they need to click through. At best they go back to the real page, more likely they give up, at worst they actually go and click “Your PC Has Virus, Click Here to Run Free AntiVirus”

    And then they say Free Software is rubbish.

    Let’s fix advertising choices before we try to defend the chosen implementation.

  7. GrueMaster GrueMaster January 23, 2014

    I am a developer of a Windows app (Win32DiskImager) that resides on Sourceforge. When this issue first came up, I was in constant IRC contact with SF admins. They want users to report deceptive “Download Here” adds so that they can be blocked. If people don’t report them and just complain on there favorate rant site, SF can not improve.

    As to the Filezilla installer w/ additional “crapware”, while I can’t speak to the additional stuff, I do know that Filezilla was one of the opt-in developers (I am not affiliated with that project, but have chatted with team members online). The opt-in helps the developers generate revenue.

    And SF is not the only ones doing this. Ever install Adobe Flash and gotten the Google Toolbar w/o notification? How about installing Oracle’s Java and getting’s crappy toolbar? I even recently installed a Microsoft app that had crapware attached (I opted out of that install).

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not promoting crapware and deceptive installations. But falting SF for this is really not productive. They need some revenue to continue supporting the infrastructure in use that currently hosts some 350K projects. No other open source hosting platform comes close to supporting this many projects.

  8. Matheus Matheus January 23, 2014

    One more reason to move to Linux. Package Manager – i luv it.

  9. Sum Yung Gai Sum Yung Gai January 24, 2014

    I don’t have a problem with ads for other software. I do have a problem with the use of deceptive “Download Here” buttons. I’ve seen that crap on other sites, and it’s generally for some Windows .EXE that has who-knows-what malware in it. It’s deceptive, and that’s why they do it.

    So, yes, I believe the GIMP folks were correct. If SourceForge wants to be an enabler for these deceptive ads, it’s their site and thus their right. It’s also the GIMP folks’s right to go somewhere else, and I’m glad to see that they’ve done that.


  10. Sven Sven January 26, 2014

    Advertisement is like sex. You do not do it at work.

  11. John T. Haller John T. Haller January 28, 2014

    There are some major issues with the DevShare program as it was originally rolled out (dark pattern use, swapping a downloader for the real installer, asking for admin rights before downloading, not working with the command line, not scriptable, etc). But it is worth pointing out that SourceForge suspended the DevShare program with only 4 participants after members of the community spoke out against it and pointed out the major issues with the program. Those 4 projects all opted in and receive a share of the revenue generated. No projects were ever forced to use it and it was not added to any projects without permission.

    DevShare was an attempt to allow open source projects to monetize without resorting to the shady (and sometimes impossible to uninstall) offer-based inclusions that some SourceForge projects were engaging in on their own. Not to mention the fact that open source projects are starting to to this across the board regardless of source hosting platform or download site. I wrote to SourceForge myself with a list of the major issues with the DevShare program and offered up some possible solutions.

    As for the deceptive ads, this is an unfortunate side effect of using Google AdSense. Like many Google offerings, there’s quite a bit of deceptive advertisers involved in it with spyware/adware/badware (just try searching Google for Firefox with ad blocking off to see it in action). It’s extremely difficult to weed out these bad actors within Google AdSense and block them and Google’s tools they offer up to do so are laughably inadequate. Plus, the only semi-decent tool they offer to uncover which advertiser is posting which ad on your own site only works in Google Chrome.

    Hopefully, the criticisms and shortcomings will be taken to heart and SourceForge will find a better way for both open source projects and themselves to make and share revenue going forward. It’s a very worthwhile goal and would be well served by better execution.

    Full disclosure: I run, one of the top SourceForge projects though we do not participate in the DevShare program.

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