Freeware Spam

I was looking for a better “popular posts” plug-in for WordPress yesterday, so I tried one in particular (no, I won’t name it). Shortly after installing it, I was auto-spammed by the author using my own address as the sender. I became annoyed. Jackassery ensued.

Now most of us will agree that’s pretty spammy and not at all the sort of interaction one would expect from installing freeware. As a result, I immediately uninstalled the plug-in and e-mailed the author (I had to look up his contact information since it wasn’t in his e-mail). I explained how disappointing it was to be spammed and how using my own address as the sender to bypass basic spam detection was consciously spammy (especially since the plug-in must have read the information from my WordPress configuration without asking). I said I won’t be using any of his plug-ins in the future based on this action.

His response, while veiled in reasonable tone, was based on a less-than-convincing argument:

Joshua, thanks for your feedback. I’m sorry that something I’ve contributed dozens of hours to and let you download for free, to use for free and without registration offended you.

Okay, so we’re going to completely side-step the clearly-stated issue and plead the “I Died for Your Sins (and Your Blog)” case. I get it – the author is an asshat. As both a consumer and author of freeware, I fully understand and applaud the effort and generosity behind freeware. I give good ratings for good software and I recommend it to my peers if the topic comes up.

But that doesn’t give you the right to spam me intentionally, nor is it any kind of defense for your actions whatsoever.

I cannot remember a single instance where I was spammed for downloading freeware without having given my address first, nor have I ever even asked anyone for their information in exchange for downloading my own. I think it’s wrong (and a little slimy) to do so.

… and dozens of hours for the WordPress plug-in equivalent of “Yet Another Beginner’s Recipe App”? You’re doing it wrong.