Curse and WoWInterface working together to help protect our authors and other site-users

Recently Curse and WoWInterface got together to come up with a solution for an ongoing problem. The problem in question is WowMatrix. The reasons they are a problem are many:

  • WowMatrix violates author copyright and intellectual property rights:
    • They redistribute addons without authors' permissions;
    • When they first started they would scrape the legimate sites for addons then upload them to their own site in addition to deep-linking from the sites;
    • They edited authors' files to remove donation requests and links to their home sites, etc.; and
    • They have failed on many occasions to honour authors' requests to remove addons from their application;
  • In a lot of cases the files served to users have been many versions out of date. This leads to authors having users complain about bugs, bugs that were fixed days or weeks ago in versions that are available on the legitimate sites, causing problems for both the authors and for the end-users;
  • Until the community raised a hue and cry, WowMatrix didn't even supply the authors' names as to who wrote the addon, let alone provide a link to where the addon was legitimately hosted;
  • WowMatrix leeches from the legitimate hosting sites without permission, let alone compensation. Originally, they scraped our sites so they could upload addons to their own site without permission, in addition to deeplinking from our sites. They have finally stopped hosting the addons on their own site, but they still deeplink from our sites, using our resources to run their program. Curse and WoWInterface use a lot of bandwidth every month which costs a lot of money. The way we pay our bills is through site ads, which are directly dependent on users viewing them, and premium memberships. WowMatrix bypasses our download pages, and, as a result, people are not viewing the ads. Of course, this means the ads aren't generating any revenue to pay for the bandwidth. At the rate they were going, if they were allowed to continue using our resources without any compensation, they were going to drive us right out of business. Not only are they stealing our bandwidth and preventing us from being able to recoup that loss, they also have their own ads all over their site and application. They are directly profiting from the stolen bandwidth; and
  • Due to the massive resource drains they put on our sites, we have all experienced heightened loads and weaker performance, especially on patch days. During those days they download so much from our sites that sometimes we have a hard time keeping up to the demands; thus causing legitimate users to experience problems accessing our sites. That's just flat out unacceptable.

For months now, both sites and multiple authors have been trying to come up with solutions to the problems caused by WowMatrix. However, WowMatrix just keeps ignoring authors' requests to remove their addons from their application, working around the protections we have put in place, and proving repeatedly that they have no intention of ever becoming responsible, legitimate members of the community. Instead, they choose to continue to leech off the community. Well we, Curse and WowInterface, have gotten together and between us we believe we may have found a solution to prevent them from pulling authors' addons from our sites to redistribute without permission and stealing our bandwidth any longer. Unfortunately we cannot release details on the solution, so as to keep it viable.

"Yeah yeah yeah, blah blah, get to the important question: What does this mean for me, your sites' user?" For the majority of users it should be completely transparent, you should not notice any difference whatsoever, other than improved site responsiveness during patch days. We hope that we will be able to revert the changes made to our sites eventually, if WowMatrix ever stops violating authors' copyright and ceases stealing our bandwidth and other resources.

If you were previously using WowMatrix to keep your addons updated, please use our official updaters (Curse, WoWInterface). You may also mark addons as favorites on both WoWInterface and Curse in order to be alerted when they are updated.

Kaelten
Administrator, Curse & WowAce

Cairenn
Administrator, WoWInterface

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  • Avatar of rsavoie rsavoie Apr 17, 2009 at 07:29 UTC - 0 likes

    Bonhast: Yes Curse pays for their bandwidth. What of it? I pay for mine. I didn't ask them to host the addon files - they inserted themselves as middle-men. If they go away because they could not come up with a good business model to make money, then so be it: free market economies are based on that very principle. The addon writers will recover and find other ways to get their stuff out there.

    However, I actually think Curse can continue to provide a useful service organizing, reviewing, discussing and cataloging addons - they don't have to be the middle-men to continue to make money and to be relevant in the addon sphere. Those things should be their core competencies - they excel at it! They suck at distribution, so let that part go away. It will sort itself out.

    What I object to is monopolistic attitude Curse is exhibiting. They are trying to corner the Addon market and make money by forcing people to look at their ads. This type of business model is not working very well for the TV industry who is fighting a (IMO) losing battle with the "Tivo effect": when people are given the choice they more often than not will skip the commercials. Poof - no more ad revenue.

    You've admitted to doing this yourself by saying you use Adblocker. And by the way, I don't believe for a second that you voluntarily turn off Adblocker when you visit sites you want to support. If you do, you may actually be making things worse for them by using their bandwidth to serve up the ads, unless you happen to click on an ad or two. Doubtful.

    Brimmstone: WowMatrix is not being a parasite any more than Firefox is being a parasite, or Google, or Safari, or whatever. They are simply giving what people have been asking for - an easy way to maintain and update their addons. You have a twisted view of free market economies if you think that they are being a parasite.

    By the way - what do you think will happen to Curse if Blizzard decides enough is enough and takes over distribution of the addons? Are you going to call Blizzard a bunch of leaches too?

  • Avatar of wakarimasen wakarimasen Apr 17, 2009 at 05:30 UTC - 0 likes

    How will the website be more responsive on patch days? Stopping WowMatrix isn't going to reduce the number of people who download addons on patch days, so there won't be a difference unless you've got some improved download system that only your downloader uses. If there is some improved download system, why not share it?

    The Flash and Java buttons are not a permanent solution and can be circumvented. If WoWMatrix is profitable, the buttons will be circumvented.

  • Avatar of balding_ape balding_ape Apr 17, 2009 at 04:33 UTC - 0 likes

    I've noticed a bunch of people romanticizing the WoWAceUpdater client. I used that client. I'm sure that, for some corner cases, it is superior to the current Curse client. But for normal updating of many addons, the current CC kicks its ever-loving ass - it's not even close. Better UI, more information, and updates are just as easy. How someone can think the old WAU was better at that is simply beyond me. There's a lot of "the good old days..." syndrome going on here.

    I'm not particularly interested in the WoWMatrix issue. Kaelton/ckknight's case is pretty much airtight: what happens when they are forced to shut down because they are paying thousands for bandwidth for which they gain no revenue? That is bad for all of us, because that means that bandwidth is gone for all of us. Unless you think WoWMatrix is going to then pony up for servers? No brainer. This move may be predicated on Curse' and WoWI's need to protect revenue and reduce costs, but it's overall a net benefit for the community, and that should make all of us happy.

  • Avatar of Brimmstone Brimmstone Apr 17, 2009 at 01:51 UTC - 0 likes

    @rsavoie: Sure, the free market allowed for innovation, but AOL wasn't writing a client that used CompuServe's dial-up lines for free, now were they? They put their own time in, bought their own hardware, rented their own dial-up lines, and built their own platform ... and were rewarded for their efforts, but they didn't use resources they weren't entitled to.

    We're talking about WowMatrix building a business model around being a parasite, and I don't think any reasonable person can blame the host for wanting to fix *that* problem.

  • Avatar of Borhast Borhast Apr 17, 2009 at 01:49 UTC - 0 likes

    @rsavoie (sorry for being late responding, Ulduar kept me away)

    Whether or not my "arguments will hold up in court" or not is a moot point as leeching isn't a crime, so that is a very weak reply and argument.

    And a lot of sites whos finances are totally dependent on ads really dislike AdBlocker and StopScript, there has been a lot of attempts to circumvent the addon or blocking browsers who uses it. I still use it, and I will keep using it until sites can give a 100% guarantee that none of their ads will spread malicious software.

    It is however very easy to disable those addons for the site one wishes to support (and sites that are safe-ish)

    The fact remains, curse pays for their bandwidth, they decide who or what can use it, nor does anyone force you to use any updaters at all. I manually updated all of my mods until WoWI's and Curse's updaters were functioning satisfactory, it's not really that hard to do.

  • Avatar of rsavoie rsavoie Apr 17, 2009 at 00:05 UTC - 0 likes

    Brimmstone: Better clients come around all the time. That is the beauty of innovation and that is precisely why Curse is causing this crisis: WowMatrix is a better client hands down from the user's point of view. Come on - we'd all still be using CompuServe if we didn't allow the free market to innovate.

    Yes of course there are issues with tracking - I didn't claim my proposal would solve all the problems, but that is where Curse is particularly well positioned to excel. They are already an excellent resource for information about addons - that will not change. The client maintains a list of what addons are used; all you need to do is ensure that any new clients should provide that list to you.

    Hell - if you code this right you might not even need such a list! You still can track the number of visitors who version-check the revision of the addon and keep metrics that was, as well as keep track of which addon pages are visited most often. Wouldn't that be enough? Isn't that essentially Google's model? It works for them.

    Ultimately, bandwidth costs would drop - I can't day how much but they should drop substantially. You pocket the difference.

    Kaelten: Regarding the costs & viability of P2P - you may be right - but then if the files are so small and the bandwidth needed to host them so minuscule, why are you complaining about bandwidth to begin with? Sounds like you are contradicting yourselves a bit.

    Regarding the cost/complexity - well there are plenty of high quality open-source torrent clients out there. You don't have to re-invent the wheel! Just add nice shinny spinners to it! :-)

    -Ray

  • Avatar of Brimmstone Brimmstone Apr 16, 2009 at 22:27 UTC - 0 likes

    rsavoie & DigitalSorceress:

    While the torrent idea does make bandwidth less of an issue, what happens if CompanyC else comes along and write some sort of torrent client that some people like better? Now somebody sees CompanyC has a good thing going and approaches them and says "We want to buy add space on your client". The bandwidth used by Curse, at all, is now the same as before CompanyC, but the ad revenue is less. CompanyC is now making money without ever having to really do anything, and the people that did all the work are making less.

    Also, with a torrent, how do you have metrics that measure how many people download what? How does Curse have numbers to bring to their advertisers to say "this many people visit this page every day"?

  • Avatar of Kaelten Kaelten Apr 16, 2009 at 22:21 UTC - 0 likes

    We've done looking into with torrents and p2p.

    Torrents aren't viable for lots of small files. We consulted with torrent's engineers and came to that conclusion.

    Another p2p solution could potentially be viable however the implementation cost and complexity of the system would be high.

    WowAce.com & CurseForge.com Adminstrator
    Check out my new addon, OneChoice, it helps you pick quest rewards faster.
    Developer of Ace3, OneBag3, and many other addons and libraries
    Project lead and Mac developer for the Curse Client

  • Avatar of rsavoie rsavoie Apr 16, 2009 at 21:19 UTC - 0 likes

    Hi DigitalSorceress

    Precisely what I'm thinking. We can build on the current torrent mechanism and add a few twists:

    1. the addon torrent file could optionally include advertisement or at least link back to the site's homepage. The ad would be shown during installation. The links would always be there to help navigate back to the home site.
    2. Curse could become the 'PirateBay' of addons - a clearing house for the torrent files. It could of course continue to host the addons, but it would also 'seed' them. Authors of addons would also be able to seed the torrents directly, of course, as well as anybody else who cares to do so.
    3. The addon torrent file could be digitally signed (using PGP or some other free/open-source authentication scheme) to ensure its validity.

    Anything else I'm missing?

    R

  • Avatar of DigitalSorceress DigitalSorceress Apr 16, 2009 at 21:04 UTC - 0 likes

    Rsavoie and Tearstar,

    This is exactly what I meant by constructive... maybe its time I come down off my high horse. :P

    Ok, so let's get all hypothetical here: Bliz uses a torrent to distribute their patches... there's real merrit there. At the same time, I know I just CRINGE at the slowness sometimes - it's not perfect, but it does have certain scalability.

    So, let's say that there could be some kind of standard for seeding/tracking that could be agreed upon by the major addon sites... the sites still provide added value that they can catch eyeballs (advertising revenue) for: users reading up about the addons, changes, putting in tickest, discussions, and even still hosting direct http downloads for those without the client.

    The client would have to lock down against unauthorized stuff or you'd end up with it being used to share inappropriate (non-addon) or even dangerous or illegal things (viruses / copyrighted IP respectively).

    I never participated in the Napster heydey, but I'm sure there'd be a way to get enough ad impressions to pay the bills for an enterprising company, and I suppose one way would be to do the old free, ad supported client versus paid premium client.

    Just thinking here... point being that yeah, maybe there is some way to make something like that work where it keeps the major sites as community / support portals for developers and users, but uses torrenting to reduce direct bandwidth costs. Thing is, to be really useful, there'd need to be agreement / standardization, and there'd need to be some security built in. Also, I suppose it would be necessary to make things fairly easy to use and tranparent to the users.

    Mostly, I'm just rehashing what you suggested at this point, but its kind of bouncing around in my head... There's something workable in there.

Facts

Date created
Apr 13, 2009
Last updated
Apr 13, 2009

Author