Eightball and Thundercloud's RANT

Our Little Rant by Eightball & Thundercloud
From InfoAve Premium Issue #87 - June 17, 2005
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Things We'd Like To Ask Jeeves (ASK.COM)

We're confused at what exactly is going on at Ask Jeeves (Now "Ask.com"). Did Interactive buy Ask Jeeves or did Ask Jeeves buy Interactive. One follower of such goings-on, Danny Sullivan of www.searchenginewatch.com wrote to us to clarify this very confusing acquisitioning:

"Last year, Ask Jeeves purchased Interactive Search Holdings (ISH), which owns FunWebProducts. That's what this story,
http://searchenginewatch.com/searchday/article.php/3337511   was about. This year, InterActiveCorp (completely different company, acronym IAC)
is buying Ask Jeeves. That's what this article, http://news.com.com/2061-10803_3-5628106.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=newsis about. That deal is still pending."

I guess I'm wondering why the shell game with the names? Is it coincidence that these companies have such similar names? All we know is, one day FunWebProducts was owned by Focus Interactive (apparently part of Interactive something or other :-) ) and the next day it was owned by Ask Jeeves.

In any case, Ask Jeeves (ASK COM) bought into a questionable group (our opinion of course) of programs known collectively as FunWebProducts. Of course, now, apparently, anytime Ask Jeeves gets caught with its pants down it will always be someone else's fault. Heck, they must be steeped hardy in the American way! Nothing's ever someone's fault, it's always someone else's fault, right? When popped by Ben Edelman for targeting kid's sites, Ask Jeeves spokesperson Heather Staples said: "One of our partners was loading the software. It's something our company does not condone." She said Ask Jeeves ended its relationship with the partner. Uh huh. So, in other words, Ask Jeeves is innocent! Of course!

So, what does noted spyware-researcher Ben Edelman have to say concerning Ask Jeeves?

 "...I offer two separate examples of Google partners who break Google's Software Principles rules. First, Ask Jeeves. AJ's (Ask Jeeves) toolbars are sometimes installed without any consent at all. But even when users supposedly consent, installation procedures are often seriously deficient. For example, users who download iMesh get an AJ toolbar too -- though the only way to find out is by scrolling to page 27 of iMesh's license. These practices notwithstanding, Google's payments to AJ (Ask Jeeves) apparently total hundreds of millions of dollars per year. ..."

But, but, but..."it was our partners doing this" says Ask Jeeves. Well, Jeeves, we have a few things to ask you, if you don't mind.

1. Why not just say we're going to install a dozen or so programs on my computer when I click "Download SmileyCentral"? Do I want these other programs? Why don't you call a toolbar a toolbar?

2. Why do you need a 6700+ word (full)license agreement? Google's Toolbar has a 533 word license agreement.

3. Why do you say you're not "adware"? You are clearly adware.

4. Why when I search with your toolbar (even when I choose Google) do I have to scroll down a page and a half before I get the search results I asked for? They don't look anything like Google's search results. And, why do you put "Related Searches" and "Popular Searches" on the right side of the page. These are just more "sponsored links" which you are disguising as "searches". Well, I guess, Mr. Jeeves, I if were searching for advertisements they'd be related or popular. But, I wasn't. I was searching for "cats and kittens". And, what does sexual health have to do with cats and kittens anyway? My cat is perfectly healthy.

5. Why do you target children's sites and then have "babes" for the kids to download? Gee, when I was a kid all I had was National Geographic. Was I born too soon?

6. My Outlook Express program has never frozen since I can remember. Today, every time I clicked "My Email Signature" Outlook Express crashed. Why?

7. You claim you can disable any of the features you install, yet I clicked the links to disable your features and nothing happened. Why?

8. Why do you make all these changes to my Windows registry?

9. Can you explain this Spybot Search & Destroy log? You say you're not spyware or adware. If that is so then why does an anti-spyware, anti-adware program, deliver these results?

10. Why don't you tell people up front how they REALLY pay for all this "free" software? Why don't you tell them the potential consequences that installing this many programs, all at once on a computer may have and the amount of system resources these applications use? And, why don't you make it clear that you will continue to install more and more programs on the user's computer as quickly as your (apparently) harried software programmers can dream them up? Yes, I'm sure, you'll obfuscate these installations - cloaked under the guise of "enhancements" or "upgrades". Gotta keep those programs of yours updated, right Mr. Jeeves?

Heck, after my experience with your stuff today, I think you really need to start from the ground up - or at least give your programmers more time to sleep. Some of this software is pretty bad, Mr. Jeeves. Your programmers must be busy day and night dreaming up new ways to entice new users into downloading your "software" on their computers. You already have a gazillion dollars - do you really need to resort to these sleazy tactics to get your stuff installed? Or do you need to get this stuff installed on millions of computers just to just to pay the advertising bills for the gazillion banners, popups, popunders, which you  inundate the Web with these days? I imagine all that advertising is really expensive. I wouldn't know. We can't afford to advertise. How much do you spend a month ramming your "free" stuff down people's throats, Mr. Jeeves? You're either the world's largest and most generous philanthropic organization or you're pretty darn shrewd. I'd bet on the latter.

Your name is Ask Jeeves but now you've changed to ASK.COM. You're a publicly traded company with a ten-digit valuation. You don't need to play these kinds of games. You grew away from Jeeves, now grow away from tricking people. You were once an outstanding company that everyone, including me, trusted. Now, we're asking you ASK.COM: What's up with FunWebProducts?

PS: Those Ask Jeeves -err I mean PopularScreenSavers - babes are pretty hot - but do you really think you should be advertising that sort of thing on kid's sites?

Tell us what you think! Please

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