By Bob Walsh

A dirty little secret is out, thanks to Andy Brice, and it’s about time. For years, more than a few of the directory sites handing out awards have been little more than scams, awarding “5 Star!” ratings to any and all microISVs who would submit their software. Yet we as industry have been more than willing to scarf up any and all “awards” to try to build up our credibility like the “real” software companies out there.

By any, I mean any: Andy submitted a text file with the words “this program does nothing at all” repeated a few times and then renamed as an .exe. The PAD file that described the software contains the description “This program does nothing at all”. The name of the program was awardmestars.

Already, awardmestars has “won” 16 5-star ratings. Here’s the Hall of Shame so far:

The Hall of Shame:


What’s in some ways worse is that of the 1,033 sites he submitted to (How did he submit to so many sites? Keep reading), 218 list awardmestars in their directories.

Is it any wonder microISV/shareware software has to battle against the perception of shabby software? How many unsuspecting people whose only crime was a willingness to look at software from “alternative” companies like ours are sucked in with this kind of scam? How many figure out that these awards are crap, that most of the software that gets these awards are crap and never go near microISV software again? Too, too many.

The “award” count will probably go higher – 394 sites are pending. There is some good news; 421 sites rightfully rejected awardmestars. They deserve our praise – I hope Andy publishes several followup posts, including the names of the directories that rejected awardmestars – these are the directories we as an industry want to do business with.

First off, Andy has done a good and noble thing here and deserves the thanks of every microISV out there. These rip off scam artist sites are another form of Google AdWords spam sites – at our expense. This sort of crap has gotten so bad you have spam blogs like this one ripping off kiddie-script posts like this one on how to start these scam/spam directories.

Second, kudos to Mykola Rudenko’s submission service for helping Andy do his bit of detection. I can only hope Mykola offers an option – call it the Andy Option – of submitting to either everyone but those fake directories Andy has uncovered, or those directories who rightfully rejected awardmestars.

Third, Silence is consent. We as microISVs need and should link to Andy’s post today and condemn in no uncertain terms these fake directories for the sake of our own companies. I’ve known Andy for several years since he was kind enough to let me interview him for my first book, through all his posts at Business of Software, through the European ShareWare Conference and now his blog: he is a straight shooter, he is reporting accurately his data. I believe him.

Fourth, if you have any of these “awards” on your site, take them down today. This dirty little practice will soon be the leper’s bell of the microISV software industry – get rid of them now.

Fifth, Andy’s post is a perfect example of citizen journalism. Here’s a story that would never make it past a newspaper editor in a million years: a) most would not even get what it’s about, b) it would not be considered “news” because it doesn’t have two talking heads on either side, c) newspapers hate the Blogosphere because it’s killing them.

In fact, the only way you’ll see this story in the Mainstream Media is if they sex it up/frack it up: “Shareware dangerous, says UK scientist” – kind of thing. The only way to stop that is if we as an industry get vocal now.

Every industry, market, institution, organization has their dirty little secrets: it’s up to the people who make up these entities to shine an antiseptic light in the form of public attention and knowledge on these insects before they corrupt further. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

6 thoughts on “A dirty little secret rightfully exposed.

  1. I award this blog 5 stars !
    It is your CIVIC DUTY to link to this blog NOW and give this guy more hits!!!!

  2. Thank you Bob (and top work Andy! of course)

    The award scam is a sad one, and only brings down the perceived value of ISV’s.

    Also i like the branding make-over. 47 hats is a good name — beyond it’s actual meaning it adds in that mysterious power that prime numbers seem to have: 7 thinking hats, 7 habits of., 37 signals, 43 folders, route 67, 101 uses for a dead cat… and so on. Prime numbers have some unexpected appeal.


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