Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Why I hate ASK.com
Ask.com used to be called " Ask Jeeves" and has always been a wanna-be competitor in the search engine business. So today, they rely on sneaky techniques to embed themselves in your computer.
ASK.com sucks. Let's face it. No one uses it anymore - and few did even back in the heyday.
So what they have resorted to, in order to build more market share, is sneaky-Pete techniques to trick you into downloading it onto your browser as the "Ask.com toolbar".
When downloading any free software - including Malwarebytes, Java, Flash, or Adobe Reader, be sure to read all the pages carefully. What you may be surprised to find is that Ask.com will be installed in your browser automatically, unless you specifically UNCHECK the box that says "install Ask.com toolbar".
It is very tricky and subtle and you may miss it.
And as I have noted time and time again, when someone starts a business relationship predicated on a lie, no matter how trivial, it will go downhill from there. And sneaking software onto your computer with "negative option" bundling techniques is just a form of deceit - a lie.
And let's face it, if your software or search engine was any good at all you wouldn't have to resort to trickery to "slam" it onto a user's computer.
And I have been asked to "fix" people's computers and find numerous such toolbars embedded on their browser. When asked why they are there, many folks shrug, not understanding how they get there. But hey, some folks (most folks) simply don't pay attention. Look at how many people roll or run stop signs, for example.
The Ask Toolbar can be uninstalled from Internet Explorer through the Windows control panel (Go to Programs and then click "uninstall"), and from Firefox through the Add-ons menu, and an uninstall link in more recent versions. I recently had to do BOTH on my new hard drive, as this insidious company embedded itself into my computer when I downloaded and installed some legitimate "free" software.
Should you use the ASK toolbar? NO. Should you uninstall it from your computer? YES.
And let me tell you why:
First, any company that uses "negative option" bundling to slam software onto your machine is not to be trusted, period. Whatever credibility Ask had, they lost it with this sneaky technique of deceiving you into loading their program.
Second, if the program was any good, they would not need to be doing this. So by the very nature of their "marketing" they telegraph that their product is crap. So just get rid of it.
Third, if you allow companies to slam software onto your computer using "negative option" bundling techniques, it will encourage more and more companies to do this. Pretty soon, nearly every piece of shareware will be encumbered with some crappy search bar or add-on that you don't need or want.
Fourth, the whole point of search engines is to harvest demographic data and sell search results to businesses. This is bad enough, but to hand over this data to a company that cannot be trusted is unwise.
So, screw you, Ask.com! If you want to be the next Google, maybe try having a better search engine, instead of slimy marketing techniques.
Unfortunately, we see this all the time with Internet companies. Whether it is Angie's List, AOL, or eFax, MySpace, or whatever. When the market model starts to unwind and the company heads for the skids, they bring in some marketing whiz, whose stellar advice is to screw the crap out of the existing market base, until even that is gone. So they spam the users, make it impossible to cancel "negative option" monthly fees, or extort money from people - or whatever it takes. But it is all for naught. Such companies are soon to be on the trash-heap of the Internet. They should just cut to the chase and sell out or close down, rather than prolong the inevitable and just annoy the snot out of the rest of us.