Developer Advertising

(TG) #1

Just out of curiousity, does anyone else find it annoying when developers add their URL addressing to their ‘paid’ stacks/plugins (when viewing in source on your webpage)?

Maybe just a hangup for me, but I also remove the license plate covers and stickers from any new car I buy if it advertises the dealership I purchased it from. I guess I really do not wish to be an automaton that blindly promotes/advertises for the seller.

If I wish to support a business beyond the purchasing of their product, I’ll accomplish this by word of mouth if and when I desire to do so. I can accept the notion of free or specially priced products to include advertising if it is stated as containing such.

Just an annoyance…

(Dylan Banks) #2

I’ll be honest - nah not really. It’s their code, they can do what they want - you just purchase a licence to use their software. Bit different than buying a car from a dealership, it’s more like saying I’m gonna remove the badge on my car so I don’t advertise the car brand. I can sort of understand removing the dealer sticker but not in software. I think you’ll find most software you use will have some sort or trademark. (I’m referring to the source code, not actually being displayed on a webpage)

(Greg Schneck) #3

Can be annoying but it can also tell anyone who is debugging a page (like RW) exactly where that section of code came from.

(Mathew Mitchell) #4

I don’t find it annoying at all. But I would also remove license plate covers from a new car day one. How many “real folks” (non-coders) would really look at the source code? And if they knew enough to do that, why would I care? Who knows, maybe it will encourage other geeky types to try out RW.

… on the other hand if this kind of info was present on all webpages (i.e. non-source code, but regular view) then I would have a big problem with it.

(Isaiah Carew) #5

I’m curious which stacks are doing this and how so. While it’s not completely out of bounds it definitely is less clean and has some potential to confuse search engines.

But before I go scold the devs, I’d like to see this first hand. Zig it were, say a copyright notice around a bit of Javascript, then that would be much more acceptable.

(TG) #6

I’ll provide a few when I’m off work. Most such examples are couched in Class= statements and ID’s.

(Isaiah Carew) #7

IDs and Classes are used to style the HTML. they have to be unique. each developer must ensure they will avoid conflicts with other developer’s stacks.

prefixing identifiers with a company name or abbreviation is best practice.

that’s not advertising. that’s just good code. :yum::nerd_face::+1:

(TG) #8

Prefixing with a URL is a bit more unique than a company name and product name.

(klaatu) #9

An example would be helpful here, if possible?

(TG) #10

Below is one of several examples. I have placed Woodgate’s ViewportText stack into a test page:

Bring up the URL and source the page. Perform a find function using the search parameter “Visit

Now to his defense, this is a free stack, which I would have no issue with, which is why I am using his as an example. I have no desire to publicly identify those who do this for a paid stack/plugin. My gripe was only a general comment and wanted to know what peoples opinions were.

(Isaiah Carew) #11

i took a random sampling of stacks from the big pile that i have installed. here’s what i found:

  • Comments::+1:
    Stacks itself injects many comments. It does this just to help make the code a bit more readable – so you can identify which stacks contributed which bits of HTML. But if you’d like the code to be terse and small – then you can turn them off. The switch (along with a few others) is in the HTML section of that Stacks prefs.

  • Meta Tags::+1:
    Stacks adds one meta tag for each type of stack that you use on each page. You can disable these too, if you like. They exist just to help folks identify which stacks they used on which pages. And can occasionally be useful when debugging.

  • More Comments: :man_shrugging:
    Even with the Stacks comments disabled, a few stacks add a few more comments too. But I couldn’t find any comments that could be described as ads – even in the loosest sense of the word. These extra comments are perhaps extraneous – but only just barely.

  • Lots of copyrights and license agreements: :neutral_face:
    Mostly in Javascript there were a lot of copyrights, license agreements, and legal mumbo jumbo. That’s to be expected with any source-code. In fact it’s usually a requirement of the license that the the license itself be included. So… that is what it is… no getting away from the lawyers.

  • a couple product-name comments: :unamused:
    while far from common, i did find a couple comments that were definitely superfluous. since Stacks already provides comments (which can be disabled) these sorts of things aren’t really necessary. But they probably don’t really hurt much either. The longest I saw was 3 lines – so maybe 30 bytes. Obviously, every byte counts when trying to make a site faster – but if you’re concerned about 30 bytes i want to see your site! I’m not sure if a product name can be called an ad. Maybe? You can let me know what you think.

I only managed to really dig through about 30 stacks. So not even close to 10 percent of the total number that are in the wild. If my random sample was representative (maybe?) then I’d say ads inside the code are not the norm. But there’s a chance I managed to just hit exactly the wrong ones.

Overall this leads me to believe that what we have is probably one of a few possibilities:

  • i’m looking in entirely the wrong place :face_with_monocle:
    i looked in HTML and JS code. perhaps there’s something i just wasn’t considering. some other place.
    solution: please just point me in the right direction. if i find ads, i’ll let the developer know that we’d all appreciate them being removed

  • a small subset of developers are doing all the bad stuff :rage:
    if my random sample didn’t hit those guys i could have just missed it
    solution: same as previous

  • someone mistook one of the normal things above :grimacing:
    mistakes happen. and lots of people don’t know about all those preferences.
    solution: disable the bits you don’t want using the Stacks prefs.

I think now it’s probably best to just wait to see what the original poster can show us. Once we have a concrete example in hand we can decide how to proceed. I think I’ve already said plenty, so I’m going to hold off posting any further speculation until then. :thinking:


(Isaiah Carew) #12

Hmmm… yes. I’d say that qualifies. But in a free stack… oh boy. I don’t want to have to be on the jury of that one decision. :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

(Marten Claridge ) #13

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I do this in all my stacks. It’s not an ad, it’s there to help troubleshooters identify my stack so they know where to go for help or more information.

(klaatu) #14

As far as I can see the string is providing the viewer with information about where to go to get more information. I don’t see any advertising there. Observations:

  • The string/link is inside a stack that you already own. There are no mentions of other stacks or products, it’s just a link to the dev home. I’m failing to see any advertising, its more about where to go to find out about the stack. Isn’t it?

  • A Stacks page could be made up of many stacks each with their own dependencies and scope so using the developer name or other identifier is a good way to implement that in the classes and id’s injected into the page. This is a way to help you get into the general area where you might be troubleshooting from the source code side and be able to say “right, this part is xxx by yyyy” and identify the dev and possibly where to go for more information.

  • For 90+% of stacks users, I doubt this is an issue thats going to lose them any sleep.

It would be nice if the developer were to offer an attribution free version available following a suitably generous donation.

What might be nice, for the future, would be a place where devs could put links to their support site in their stacks but for the user to be able to switch them off from the main Stacks plugin settings. So then it’s up to the user whether or not to have that data included in the generated code. Just a thought though as that’s an Isaiah thing.

(TG) #15

I see your point and agree.

(Will Woodgate) #16

Okay, let’s get a couple of things straight here from my perspective:

Firstly these HTML comments only show in a couple of my free stacks. I have resisted including comments in paid stacks - which tend to be more identifiable by their larger code base and other features.

If I have acquired stacks from other developers that have included HTML source comments, then this has been one of the first things to be updated and banished. Just take a look at the updated Tsooj Media / Henk addons if you want proof of this.

Earlier versions of Stacks included precious little information that told developers and support staff what was being used to build a page with. These source code comments were helpful, if not essential. This has improved somewhat in newer versions of Stacks, but I still consider these comments useful for others offering support for the freebies. The amount of support available for free stacks is very limited, so anything that makes the job quicker is a good thing.

I have never once been able to see a single trace of a search engine finding its way to my website through one of these source code comments. And probably only a tiny proportion of site visitors are ever going to look at your source code. So I rather think we can safely dismiss the secret advertising conspiracy straight away.

Stacks has only very recently added support to ‘look up’ the information / links for missing or lost stacks. Certainly when stacks like the aforementioned ViewportText stack were released, this simply was not available. The source code comments helped people immeasurably with restoring lost or broken project files.

For anybody who has made a sufficient donation for a free stack, I have never had any issue with providing a duplicated / renamed version absent of credits. Same policy as is used for the free themes. And plenty of people have taken advantage of this many, many times already. It works great and I would be hesitant to change it.

If a RapidWeaver user has made a significant contribution towards a free stack (perhaps for inclusion of specific features or compatibility with a certain framework) then we may consider watering-down the extent of source code comments; if the name of the stack becomes more apparent in other ways. I look at this as a form of crowd-funding and it benefits all.

Some third-party libraries and plugins that RapidWeaver addons make use of are using opensource code. Sometimes one of the usage agreements of this code is the display of credits in either the source code or a separate license file. This is a mandatory requirement. Therefore building a truly ‘white label’ website with RapidWeaver is going to be next-to impossible. If ‘white label’ is what you want, then RapidWeaver is not the tool to be using.

I do not consider the comments present in the source code of free stacks to be invasive. There are certainly more prominent ways a developer could potentially use your website as an advertising platform, if that was their main objective. I remember the days when some free themes included AdSense in the sidebar! I am getting emails all the time from companies wanting to place adverts on my websites or sponsored dummy content in the free stacks - I turn them all away. I don’t need the money that badly.

The use of comments in source code is already clearly stipulated in the terms of use / license agreement on the website.

Any links present in the comments are not marked-up as hyperlinks. They cannot be clicked. They do not communicate with my websites or share any user data. Therefore there is no issue with GDPR compliance here or suchlike.

The Stacks API itself makes it possible for any developer to output names, version numbers, IDs and other identifiable information about your setup. So if the feeling is that this is being misused, it would be for @isaiah to update the API and restrict or take those features away.

Comments in source code is nothing new. This has been happening since the very first free stacks I made available, way-back when Stacks 1 was released. Nobody has taken issue with it before today.

I see loads of other developers doing the same - including in paid addons. A lot of themes display comments about who the creator is / was and the version number, copyright, website address etc.

If the consensus is that addons should be completely anonymous then of course I will consider complying. However that might mean a requirement for users to pay for what they wish to continue using - to compensate for the time to change code and to ensure we have a better record of what’s being used when a person contacts us seeking support or updates. Or we just ignore the support requests for free addons. But I don’t think either of the above would be popular with a majority of users.

Addon developers are creators. Just like an artist may have a desire to sign their latest artwork, I don’t see any serious harm in developers doing the same. Developers place a lot of pride in what they make for this community. And free addons are a significant attraction to new RapidWeaver users getting started, with limited experience and budget.

(TG) #17

I have never insinuated that a “secret advertising conspiracy” was at hand. I was referring to my preference for the removal of obvious adverts (in my opinion). Also, I fully support the ideology of free or discounted products to contain whatever the author wishes, as I have stated time and again.

I believe I have purchased everything DooBox and 1LD sells, including a host of everyone else’s products, and while I try to view most products (including the free ones), I almost always limit my choices to paid products as they usually have better options and support if needed.

Lastly, after reading everyones opinions, I find merit in why this is done. I have already stated my issue is more than likely a personal hangup, using the example of removal of the license plate covers that refer to where I purchased the car. My sole purpose was to be either confirmed in my belief or informed of an differing view. I submit the latter has overcome my initial concerns, but perhaps this conversation would have been better served on another forum, or even not inquired of at all. This has become a road of landmines that I have unintentionally created, and for that, I’m sorry indeed.

(klaatu) #18

You’re right I clumsily worded that. Its not too bad as there are options. I just sometimes get upset when the multitude of free stuff available for RW/Stacks gets criticised.

I’m all too aware of the effort that goes into making free things so to then hear that the manner in which you are supplying free stuff (because you put a helpful link to your support site in the comments) is questionable, bothers me a little bit. Didn’t mean to sound rude - I’ll amend the wording.

(Jeff Ali) #19

This is something that I am 100% ok with. Having a URL to the developer’s website in the comments is a convenience. If it also serves to help with debugging and troubleshooting even once, then it’s worth it. If it happens to bring them more paid business then that’s fine by me. The more people who support the developers of quality code the better. I’m just curious why it bothers you so much.

I don’t agree with the auto plate holder analogy since it’s not a url that anyone can see on the face of the website. It’s only in the code, which only people interested in code would bother to look at.

(Rob Wilke) #20

Its funny, cuz I was going to post 'yeah that would be kind of annoying, but if its a developer like WillWood of Stacks4Stacks, then i would deal with it, as he has contributed SO much to the RW community … and his stacks are so fairly priced its unreal… props will!