Peas, Carrots, Green Beans, and Gray Matter

7 Reasons Not to Direct Link to a Developer’s Download Files

 

As a developer, I can’t help but be more than a little bit bothered by the fact that some bloggers chose to direct link to application download files (.zip, .exe, etc) in some of the articles they write, rather than the page on the developer’s site, in which the download links can be found.

If this is how you do things when you write articles & reviews, then I’d like to inform you that this isn’t a very nice thing to do, for the following reasons:

  1. You are depriving the developers of the full credit they deserve for the work they have done. If the application is worth writing about, it’s also worth giving the developer full proper credit.
  2. Some freeware authors have Paypal donate buttons on their sites, and your readers will never see them, therefore never click them. This deprives some developers of their only income and maybe their only incentive to keep making freeware/donationware.
  3. Some freeware authors have advertising on their sites, and additional page impressions or clicks generated from the traffic you send them means an income for them, and your direct linking to the files prevents that from happening. This is how some software can remain free, rather than the author resorting to making it payware (or even worse, adware). If you would like things to stay free and clean, you have to do your part to help the developers keep it that way.
  4. A blog linking to a page on a small developer’s site can mean a big boost in Page Rank, making their software easier to find through search engines. This helps the people searching for the perfect tool to do the job they need, as well as the software developer that created it.
  5. You are depriving and cheating your readers of the chance to browse around the developer’s site, and perhaps the opportunity to discover more useful software they might be interested in. And in the case of the applications that come from sites like donationcoder.com, you are preventing them from discovering a wonderful software enthusiasts community that they really would enjoy, and can even request custom made freeware, made to their specifications.
  6. In some cases, you may also be making it more difficult for your readers to find the info necessary to submit bug reports and get support, not to mention application updates and upgrades.
  7. You may also be depriving your readers of important information related to installing or using the application, that they may need to know.

So, could you please be a really nice person to us poor freeware/donationware developers, and your readers, and fix your links to point to the pages and not the file downloads? And in the future, always link to the pages, instead.

Your readers and the software developers would really appreciate this.

Thank You.

14 Comments

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Good post with very valid points. I hope lots of people read this and that it helps with the “direct linking” issue.

On a rather separate note, please consider changing your page’s black background and light grey text…I almost didn’t read your post 😉

Man, the above poster spams my blogs too. Always has to post a link to his site which gets him money from donations.

Although I give the downloads on my site, I usually give a link back to the publishers of the software but your point is a valid one and needs to be taken seriously.

@Sanix _ even though you include a link to the site, do people actually click through and go there?

If not, then you are still contributing to the problem, with respects to points 2 & 3.

I agree with you. In fact, when I find a link directly to the download, I always try to shorten the URL to visit the main site. It helps the developer – and I might miss some good freeware otherwise. Actually, even when I find something interesting on one of the major software download sites, I usually visit the developer’s site as well. It helps them out – and once or twice it has paid off for me.

On the other hand, if you visit a developer’s site, and they have a link to another free download site, it seems to me a good idea to use that, and save them the extra bandwidth. Although if they just say “Mirror 1”, “Mirror 2”, etc., I may assume they don’t care.

@The Wandering Author – I do the same thing, mainly because I have a need to know where my software is coming from before I download it.

You can learn a lot about a software author from visiting their site, sometimes. Important things, too.

On more than one occasion, I saved myself a lot of grief by visiting the author’s site to download an application.

For example, if I had downloaded a certain application from a blogger’s direct link, I would have ended up with the wrong version for my particular OS.

By visiting the author’s site, I not only learned that it was the wrong version but also that he had one specifically for my older OS.

While I was there, I also found a bunch of other great freeware applications.

Excellent points. Freeware developers are a wonderful asset to the internet and need all the help they can get. If just by linking to their site rather than the direct download link can help then there is no reason anyone shouldn’t be doing it. If they lose income then they will not be programming applications for us or will be forced to charge. It’s in everyones interest to do all they can to help.

Nice point.
I’ve seen some sites check the HTTP Referrer URL of the link and if it’s not the URL of developer’s download page, then the user will be redirected to the download page.
I would like to know your opinion.

This is not an issue that affects only developers. I have seen it affect artists, as well, when they put things like a zip file of icons or vectors online, or musicians when they put up a music file.

Most of those artists don’t really know enough about coding to be able to put together any sort of script that checks referrers. Does this mean they should be victimized by bloggers that don’t seem to know any better?

And for developers, there is also the issue of the sites they authorize direct linking, through the use of PAD files. (software download sites).

The problem with it is that you can’t really know the full list of sites to authorize and which to deny, as it can change daily as more sites pick up your PAD file.

Plus, my reason for writing my article was to educate bloggers as to what is acceptable and good manners. One should not excuse it and let it just continue, thinking the best solution is in just trying to thwart it with scripts, and not doing something constructive to help bloggers to understand why it’s bad manners to do things like this.

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