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Zango Under Fire From Adult Webmasters 93

Posted by kdawson
from the sleazier-meets-sleaziest dept.
An anonymous reader writes, "Over the past few days, adult webmasters have been accusing adware maker Zango of 'stealing sales' by means of the following method: Computer users with Zango's adware on board will pop open a window containing the affiliate merchant's site they happen to be on at the time, except with Zango's own affiliate code in the window. By doing this, Zango claims credit for the sale and the original, rule-following merchant, the one who referred the user there, loses out. Despite this practice having been around since at least 2004, it seems the adult webmasters are only just realizing this takes place — surprising, considering how deeply connected the worlds of adware and porn are. It seems pornographers pushing adware is acceptable only as long as they aren't the ones getting burnt. Part of me doesn't care, and part of me hopes they carry the financial clout to force Zango to change their current practices."
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Zango Under Fire From Adult Webmasters

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  • wow.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michaelhood (667393) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @03:50PM (#16438903)
    Good thing there's no bias in this summary.

    Selling adult material of willing participants to adults who want it.. definitely the same as theft.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Not all participants in the movies are entirely willing though. In fact, on the Internet, you can even find *gasp* movies of people who don't know they are being filmed at all, and those sites even have spyware/adware on them too.

      This case is a bit like watching ambulance chasers suing tobacco lobbyists. You kinda hope both sides annihilate each other.
      • Not all participants in the movies are entirely willing though.

        An exceptionally small number, these days. For the most part, the sex workers who perform in adult films and photo spreads are well paid, and their employment information well documented. As the prudes and "Moral Majority" types try to push their puritan views on the rest of society, the Adult Entertainment Industry has responded by insuring their books are above board and in order so that closed minded people who want to push their morality vi

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          No self-respecting computer geek would ever spend money on porn.
          • by no1nose (993082)
            That is so true. Only doofus-Joe-six-pack, who needs dual-core just to run his spyware, would pay money for porn.
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Jesus_666 (702802)
            Yeah, right. Tell me you've never bought a computer mag just to ogle those hot, sexy new serv-- erm, I mean, exactly!
      • ... that every site you find that claims to have voyeur style videos (with the subjects not knowing they are on camera) are fake.

        Fake. Fake. Fake.

        Do you know how much legal liability there is if you try to make money off of something where the subjects are unwilling participants? Not enough to be worth the effort to set up a billing system and charge people access, I assure you.
        • Doesn't that assume that the site is run from a location with laws against those sorts of videos?
          • by lgw (121541)
            Did you know that things that happen in movies often did not happen to the actors in real life? Strange but true.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tim C (15259)
        Not all participants in the movies are entirely willing though.

        So, because you believe that some of the participants are unwilling, you would gladly see the entire industry go down in flames?

        By the same token, I believe that some programmers create malware - clearly the entire application development industry should be shut down.
      • "Not all participants in the movies are entirely willing though...You kinda hope both sides annihilate each other."

        I contend that since the BBS days nothing has done more to get "rock spiders" out into the daylight than investigating material found on networked computers. One particular investigation almost brought down the Danish government and had 100,000 people marching in the streets. Denmark is renowned for it's sexual freedoms but the people that produce and consume this filth are mentally disturbe
      • Oh, the naivety. You know, at one point, a long long time ago, I even thought the girls in Bangbus (NSFW) [bangbus.com] videos really were girls just being offered lifts, too.

        That's not to say there's not genuine films of unaware people, but they are exceptionally in the minority.

    • by operagost (62405)
      Except I don't think that's what was suggested in the article summary. He says, "It seems pornographers pushing adware is acceptable only as long as they aren't the ones getting burnt." In other words, pornographers who saw nothing wrong with paying malware merchants to get their sites to pop up in people's browsers and such, are suddenly enraged when someone else steals their sales just like they've been stealing users' time and CPU.
  • by jpardey (569633) <j_pardey.hotmail@com> on Saturday October 14, 2006 @03:58PM (#16438949)
    ...that all pornographers are inherintly contriving assholes? That, just because they have a different sense of morality, they would all stoop to such a low level? Sure, if they purely interested in "increasing shareholder value," then I can understand that they would, but could there not be suppliers of pornography who care about public reccomendation/honour/honesty?
    • by Plutonite (999141)
      but could there not be suppliers of pornography who care about public reccomendation/honour/honesty?

      There could be, but I wouldn't put my money on it :)

      • by quintesse (654840)
        I think the "public" was only meant for the "recommendation", not for the "honour" part ;-)

        So they might not care much for "public honour" (in the meaning of being decently clothed in a public place) but they might care very much about being "honorable" (as in paying their actors enough for the job they're doing).
    • So you are saying... that all pornographers are inherintly contriving assholes?

      Well... virtually *all* pornography *is* contrived. Counterexamples appreciated :) If you can find any...

      So yeah, pornographers are, in general, contrivers.

      And almost all porn frequently involves ass holes in one capacity or another, whether passive or active.

      • by jpardey (569633)
        I should have said "are we to assume that anyone in the porn industry is less deserving of a fair judgement than anyone else?" By contriving, I meant trying in every way to come out on top (pun sort of intended) and as far in the black, rather than the red, as possible (pun definetly intended), while ignoring ethics and values. I am not sure how ethics in the porn industry are compared to big business, but I can't imagine them to be much worse. I think there have been a few nice CEOs, and a certain percent
  • by aiken_d (127097) <brooks@tangentry.DALIcom minus painter> on Saturday October 14, 2006 @03:59PM (#16438961) Homepage
    Hello. Look at my site name to get some idea of my credibility.

    First, this issue has been around since long before 2004. The tidbit that the OP seized on to write this remarkably clueless post is about Zango in particular, not the practice in general. Hello? Adult innovated affiliate programs, and is still far ahead of mainstream when it comes to combating fraud. Affiliate code rewriting is a huge issue, not just for adult, but for companies like Amazon (who Zango also targets).

    Second, the idiotic "pornographers like adware except when it hurts them" is, well, idiotic. It's like saying "programmers write viruses but also complain about them; what hypocrites!" The fact is, there are tens of thousands of adult businesses on the internet, employing hundreds of thousands of people. Some of 'em (both businesses and people) are unethical. That doesn't make the rest of us hypocritical for disliking unethical business practices, nor does it in any way diminish the injury that legit businesses suffer from scammers.

    It's easy to pick on the adult industry. There *are* scammers, spammers, and other losers who give the industry a bad name -- just like there are unethical stockbrokers, lawyers, programmers, doctors, etc. Plus, people are just uncomfortable with sex, which makes it that much more tempting to go on the attack rather than be seen as "soft on porn" (har).

    But please, the takeway from this OP should be "when people have an ax to grind and don't care much about facts, legitimate issues come out seriously twisted."

    -b
    • by Archon-X (264195)
      Completely.

      Also unaddressed are IE bugs that allow js to create cookies that CAN'T be re-overwritten by legitimate pages.
  • by secolactico (519805) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @04:04PM (#16438985) Journal
    That threw me in a loop for a bit until I realized you meant "Adult sites" webmasters.

    I mean, come on, it sounded like all those under 18 webmasters caught on early and us clueless adults as usual are two years too late to the party.

    Hootie and the Blowfish's still cool, right? Or where they ever? Is it cool to say cool? Where did I put my Ace of Base CD?
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      That threw me in a loop for a bit until I realized you meant "Adult sites" webmasters.
      I mean, come on, it sounded like all those under 18 webmasters caught on early and us clueless adults as usual are two years too late to the party.

      I did the same thing. Although I was confusing Zango with 'Zanga' and was thinking of Xanga [xanga.com], which is known for having lots of kids like MySpace and the other social networking sites, so it made sense in context.

    • Hootie and the Blowfish's still cool, right? Or where they ever? Is it cool to say cool? Where did I put my Ace of Base CD?

      Check upstairs. Your Mom might have borrowed it.

    • That threw me in a loop for a bit until I realized you meant "Adult sites" webmasters.

      Same here. I was already mildly annoyed at the tendency of people to use "adult" as synonymous with "porn". Like "adult entertainment". Lots of adults can enjoy non-porn related entertainment. Just call it what it is, okay?

  • A malware company vs a web industry that generally loads its pages with popups and uses deceptive linking/indexing techniques. Come on, do we HAVE to root for one of them to win?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Archon-X (264195)
      Your generalisation is akin to saying all car drivers are hit-and-runners.
    • by owlnation (858981) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @05:21PM (#16439441)
      A malware company vs a web industry that generally loads its pages with popups and uses deceptive linking/indexing techniques. Come on, do we HAVE to root for one of them to win?
      Please take the time to read some of the posts from adult webmasters elsewhere in this thread, and take this opportunity to learn and grow as a person.

      Some adult webmasters are unethical. They are, in my experience, (as an adult webmaster and occasional performer in the fetish industry) very much in the minority. Most people involved in the adult industry that I have met personally are honest and hard working individuals.

      In fact, I quit my job working in a very large and well-known international corporation because the things asked of me were far less honest and ethical than anything I have been asked to do in the adult industry. So, before you cast any stones Dilbert...

      Please understand that those of us working in the adult industry are under far far more scrutiny from the authorities than any other legal business. We need satisfied customers (take the pun anyway you like) as much as any other business. Thus, using adware, deceptive linking techniques, and (does anyone still?) gazillions of pop-ups, is not a good business strategy.

      I know that some webmasters do this, but so also do many from other realms too. Even companies like BMW have used SEO companies to forge page ranking. And don't even get me started on the music industry...

      Porn is, in my opinion, far more honest and ethical than most other industries. So, enjoy it knowing that you are supporting hard working small businesses everywhere.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Dragonslicer (991472)
        ...hard working individuals

        Man, the jokes just write themselves, don't they?
      • by Plutonite (999141)
        Dude, you can't blame the him. I don't mean to troll, but you guys aren't going to be knighted any time soon.

        No matter how honest you think you are, you are still in the business of lonely housewives and anal penetration. When you've entered that territory, petty things like keeping your word, being virtuous, good manners..etc cease to be of much interest. Imagining one of guys trudging off to work in a suit after driving the kids to school is just plain hard. I'm trying to say you're never going to make it
      • This from the same guys who set up "www.whitehouse.com" to trick those looking for government information....
      • Indeed, sometimes the standard falls with public perception. If they went after a bunch of people from the Humane Society, many might be up in arms because they associate that group with good intentions and cuddly animals. Now if it's a bunch of adult sites that are targetted.... well they're going after those nasty perverts, and it's not so bad (in the opinion of many).
  • A lot of sites make thier money from persuading you to click links to commercial sites where you might buy something. Just because the links are coming from "illmoral" sites, does it make it acceptable to "hijack" thier referals?
  • by bedelman (42523) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @04:31PM (#16439141) Homepage
    Ben Edelman here. I wrote the piece cited [benedelman.org] in the original post.

    These Zango practices target all affiliate merchants, not just adult web sites. Earlier this morning I happened to see Match.com (a mainstream dating site) facing commission theft by Zango and a Zango advertiser. I document this kind of problem on an ongoing basis, and it remains remarkably widespread, even 2+ years after I first wrote about it.

    I'm not here to criticize the adult industry or to defend it. But Zango's practices should rise or fall on their own merits. In my view, this is a scam -- asking a merchant to pay a commission to Zango or a Zango advertiser, when the user had already, independently reached the merchant's site. Much as some folks may not like adult sites, they ought not be defrauded by spyware or spyware-using affiliates.
  • by Raleel (30913) on Saturday October 14, 2006 @04:43PM (#16439195)
    It continually impresses me how advanced the system administrators for adult sites are. The continually push the boundaries of streaming video, audio, bandwidth, efficiency, and security. I don't know if I should be surprised or not, but the selling of sex seems to drive technology like nothing else.
    • by aiken_d (127097)
      To get a better understanding of *why* adult sites push the technology envelope, don't think of it as the "selling" of sex, because that's not what drives innovation. What's pushing the technology envelope is the *demand* for sexual content. People, no matter what they claim, simply can't get enough of it. As always, demand drives supply, and smart people know that you make more money when you better serve your customers' needs.

      -b
    • Now, not that they should have to, but what ways could the adult sites find or use to prevent Zango et al from stealing their links? A couple of thoughts I had would be along the lines of having a timed javascript that runs and corrects the URL's or textboxes, hidden boxes, or cookies etc that contain the site # that zango is stealing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Seems like the person who wrote this article completely missed the point of what he/she was reading.. The recent furor isnt over "adware" or even "zango" , its about companies selling out their affiliates to these companies..

    Adware and popups have been around forever , neither of them focus soley on adult or mainstream.

    example.. see the ad on top of this page.. zango overwrites it so you dont get paid.. i.e. you make less money.. your ads are served by adbrite.. how would you feel if you found out adbrite w
  • It's called cookie stuffing and .. if they want to stop it they can like... not pay Zengo or whatever the russian scumware company is. I worte elaborate affilite tracking software a few years ago and we had to deal with this... a more elaborate solution would be to keep a session with an image to pick off the IP to host relationship..
  • 1. The big secret is that most internet traffic is porn,
    and
    2. Most malware is hosted on porn sites

    so probably the porn sites should have all the leverage needed with companies like Zango (and Cisco and ....)
  • so if some poor schmuck's computer is infected with the Zango adware, when they go to certain pages that have annoying popup banners, zango hijacks the url request to the banner site and injects its own "affiliate code" ("pay THIS spammer for that popup" code), so instead of the web page owner getting paid to spam you, Zango gets paid for the spam.

    I don't see how this affects the owner of the computer. I also don't see how this can be illegal. However, I can see how this may violate the contract terms tha
  • by Dexenian (1010477)
    LOL, this is the funniest thing I've read in a week, good stuff :D
  • Verbal diarrhea is remarkably like the real thing: it splatters uncontrollably in all directions and leaves a nasty smell. Let's start by referring to Zango and the like by some name other than adware. ICQ is adware and no-one, whatever their role in internet commerce, can reasonably take exception to "free" anything which puts a simple promo in front of its users, which they are free to ignore. Scumware functions quite differently: a surfer attempts to visit a site and another site is popped over his inte
  • Heh. Welcome to Zango.com. This is Zango.com. Welcome. This is Zango.com. Welcome to Zango.com. You can do anything at Zango.com. Anything at all. The only limit it yourself.

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