A Violation of the Spirit of Free Software

For a long time, I really liked this unattractive, but incredibly useful website called macfreeware.com. I am not linking to the front page because shortly ago, it was sold and the result is really bumming me out.

The new owners decided to make some changes to the site that I personally think are a slap in the face of Mac freeware developers. See, the first thing they did was remove the developers’ credit in the RSS feed. Then, they took the developers’ info out of the individual pages, and finally, in the final insult, they cloaked the download links so that all of the downloads direct through a form hosted locally, so even if you were crafty, you couldn’t find the actual software on the internet without your favorite search engine.

I wrote the guys over at MacFreeWare.com – via their generic contact form, since there is no other method of communication available – and told them about this egregious violation of developers, and they temporarily complied, re-adding the developer info to both the RSS feed and the software pages. And yet, today in my Bloglines feed, and once again, the RSS feeds do not include developer info at all – not even a link to the application’s webpage – and the majority of the featured apps don’t include links on their individual pages. Some examples:


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I didn’t search these out – they were the first three links I clicked on the homepage.

So what we have is an ad-supported website aimed at cataloging Mac freeware that doesn’t even feature, or allow you to research, the very developers writing that freeware. They are making money of free apps, without any credit, any outlinking, or any way to research the software beyond their two sentence write-ups. Am I wrong or is this a complete violation of the spirit of free software?

Update: Okay, so at least some of the items in the RSS feed have a link to a developer website and most of the newer featured app pages have a link to the developer website listed. But most still don’t, which is pretty bad.

One Reply to “A Violation of the Spirit of Free Software”

  1. In addition to the changes you mentioned, the biggest one is that freemacware doesn’t even review free applications any more. BBEdit, Media Edit, OmniGraffle, Flypath, etc. are among the recent reviews. It’s hard to find a free application on that site any longer — I don’t know why it’s still called freemacware because most of the reviews are commercial products or shareware with limited trials.

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