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Paint.NET misleading advertisements leadng to spyware.


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#1 urbanriot

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:15 PM

I suggested to one of my home user clients that wanted to do some simple photo-editing to try Paint.NET. On the download page, it says to 'click the links below'. My client clicked this, installed the application, and discovered she's getting popups now and has no paint.net software.

I checked for myself, and realized that the first link that reads "Download Now!" actually leads to some registry 'cleaner' software, that possibly installs spyware on your computer... and I actually fell for it myself! On my screen, that's the first link that shows up, and if I'd scrolled down I'd have seen the 'real' links.

Does anyone else think this might be a little misleading for more simplistic users, and that maybe the advertiser is taking advantage of site layouts?
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#2 Mike Ryan

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:18 PM

I have always thought that the homepage of Paint.NET was very misorganized and ad heavy. Reminds me of some knock of the hill open source, community developed, Linux software in my honest opinion.
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#3 Yata

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:36 PM

To be honest, I dislike the entire layout of getpaint.net. It's functional, and gets the job done, yes, but it has so much potential, Rick. But on the topic at hand...

I, personally, don't even know about the ads due to adblock plus. But on a legal matter, Rick isn't responsible for what others do with their website. But I'm sure he'll try to remedy this when he evaluates the situation.
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#4 david.atwell

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:41 PM

Where was the download from? Skyorb has been a problem before, but dotPDN should be okay.
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stargatesig.png

The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
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#5 Mike Ryan

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:42 PM

He is reffering to all of the ads on the very front page at getpaint.net. Sometimes the ads will say things like "Download Now!" that lead to virus-bloated crapware.
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#6 david.atwell

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:44 PM

Ah, gotcha. Rick uses Google Adsense for his page's ads; what was the name of the program?
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stargatesig.png

The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.


#7 Yata

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:44 PM

Those are from Google Adsense, though. I don't think he can regulate the ads for that.
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#8 david.atwell

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:46 PM

Those are from Google Adsense, though. I don't think he can regulate the ads for that.

True, but if the ads violate Adsense's TOS, he can report them to Google and have them removed.
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stargatesig.png

The Doctor: There was a goblin, or a trickster, or a warrior... A nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies. The most feared being in all the cosmos. And nothing could stop it, or hold it, or reason with it. One day it would just drop out of the sky and tear down your world.
Amy: But how did it end up in there?
The Doctor: You know fairy tales. A good wizard tricked it.
River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales; they always turn out to be him.


#9 Yata

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 05:50 PM

True, but if the ads violate Adsense's TOS, he can report them to Google and have them removed.

Also true, but you can't get rid of them all. It's like saying you can make the crime rate 0% in a heavily populated area; you can take out a lot, but not all.
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#10 Crazy Man Dan

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 06:12 PM

While I'm certain it has to do largely with the advertisements displayed at the time, on the download page, the distinction is made that Paint.NET is to be acquired via one of the "Download Now" buttons. I don't necessarily agree with the placement of the advertisements there, but it's not my site, and the advertisements are textual - links, not buttons, a common contextual distinction used on the Internet:

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Now, I agree with you that the advertisements are placed in a misleading area, being the first links after the "Click below to download" message, but technically the message does indicate that a "button" below should be clicked.

I don't mean to slight or demean less experienced Internet users, but the Internet is in fact a rather dangerous place for someone who doesn't particularly know what they're supposed to be doing and not doing. Rick doesn't get too much say in the advertisements that are displayed by Google - they are served automatically based upon the content of the page as interpreted by Google's AdSense bot when it parses it - so he can't verify the origin of the advertisements. Nonetheless, advertisements are how the development of Paint.NET is funded, so they're not going away completely. Perhaps Rick would consider moving the ads so they're not immediately after the admonition to click below, but in all honesty, the onus is on the user to know what they're clicking on.

There are basic educational to-dos that I live by when I'm on the Internet. The first is: "Never click on the flashing, jiggling banners that tell me I'm user number 999,999." The second is: "Never click on any other advertisements either." Generally, these are good rules to live by. If your friend hasn't had a quick overview on basic Internet safety, the best thing I could suggest is that they download Firefox, then install the AdBlock+ add on, and possibly the NoScript Javascript sandboxer as well. With that simple setup, they will be automagically protected from most of the bad things on the Internet - ads, malicious scripts, and Internet Explorer's built-in vulnerabilities. If the use of IE is a necessity, they could install the IE7Pro add on for Internet Explorer, which includes an Ad Blocker.


So basically, while it may not be exactly what you want to hear, what I'm saying is that there's no substitute for knowledge - knowing what you're doing on the Internet is the only way to actually be any kind of safe on the Internet. Being a website developer myself, I realize I'm probably smarter than the average bear in this area, but there are a few simple things that can be done to increase anyone's odds of staying safe - Read before you click, and don't ever click on an advertisement, even if you read it beforehand. I absolutely despise online advertisements personally, but I'm not personally developing a freely distributed program used by millions, so I can see why Rick needs them there. I'm sorry for the experience your friend had, and I'm certain Rick isn't being intentionally deceptive, but high ad visibility is what keeps Paint.NET afloat.

Rick will of course have the final say in whether or not the ads move, but remember that the user has absolute control over their browser - if ads are getting in the way or causing confusion, there are add ons for just about every browser I know of (and built-in to Opera, I'll add for Mike and ncfan ;) ) that will override and intercept advertisements, keeping the sites one visits free from clutter. Developers and site owners mayn't be too happy with it (and I have disabled AdBlock+ for getpaint.net, just in the spirit of friendliness), but in the end, it's your browser - you control what goes on in it.
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#11 Rick Brewster

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 06:38 PM

What's the URL that the registry junk "download" button takes you to? I can block it, and report it to Google. I guarantee they won't be happy to know that their AdSense program is publishing spyware links.
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#12 HITMAN-X-

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 07:08 PM

This one Rick is a problem as it looks like a button you made for users to click and download Paint.NET.
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#13 Stephan

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 07:22 PM

They belong to reghelper.com, and led me to :

http://www.reghelper... ... 681428020#
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#14 Rick Brewster

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Posted 17 May 2008 - 09:00 PM

reghelper.com -- Got it, thanks. Once the AdSense site is done with maintenance I will block + report it.

I think there's also a link on that ad, at the bottom in blue, where you can send feedback to Google about the ad. Please do so!
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#15 blitzd

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 05:23 PM

reghelper.com -- Got it, thanks. Once the AdSense site is done with maintenance I will block + report it.

I think there's also a link on that ad, at the bottom in blue, where you can send feedback to Google about the ad. Please do so!


I realize this is an old thread, and sorry for responding to it years after the fact - but the same problem appears to be still occurring. I recently went to download Paint.NET after I reinstalled my OS and found that there is huge download button that leads to this site:

http://searchale.com/

...it seems to also use the referring URL to tailor the content. I got this when I clicked on the ad from the download page:
---

Easily find

Paint Net Download
---
Now, I know you can't necessarily control what ads get served up on your site, and I know that ad revenue and donations are what keep the site alive. Regardless, as a 'computer expert', I can't bring myself to recommend this software anymore if the people I am recommending it to end up feeling like they're being deceived - and deceptive is the only way ads like this can be described. I've made a complaint to Google, and I'm voicing my concerns here - whether that makes a difference or not, I don't know. As it stands, I'm already wary of recommending Paint.NET.

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  • Deceptive Ad.jpg
  • Deceptive Ad2.jpg

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#16 Rick Brewster

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:48 PM

That URL has been blocked now. It may take "a few hours" for the block to be effective.

I recommend installing Adblock Plus to deal with advertising, and you should recommend it to your associates as well.
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#17 blitzd

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 01:09 AM

That URL has been blocked now. It may take "a few hours" for the block to be effective.

I recommend installing Adblock Plus to deal with advertising, and you should recommend it to your associates as well.


Thanks Rick, your speedy response is reassuring!

I've actually recommended various adblock extensions to friends in the past, they tend to think it 'breaks' the web when all the advertisements don't show up... go figure!

I personally try not to browse anywhere I haven't been without NoScript in Firefox, but use Chrome without any adblock extensions for visiting my day to day sites. I don't mind seeing ads on sites I trust and visit often if it helps them remain free.

Thanks again!
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#18 Rick Brewster

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Posted 18 January 2011 - 06:41 AM

Yeah it doesn't offend me or anything if you go to the website with AdBlock, or something similar, installed.
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#19 vivaoho

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 07:49 PM

What's the URL that the registry junk "download" button takes you to? I can block it, and report it to Google. I guarantee they won't be happy to know that their AdSense program is publishing spyware links.

All buttons downloading spyware! I tried all of them! It makes strange changes into computer and plus protection program detects that...


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#20 Ego Eram Reputo

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 08:44 PM

Absolute rubbish! The big buttons are ads which you blindly clicked on without first reading what you were installing.

The Paint.NET download link is in the top right corner of the website page.
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