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I developed an app a few years back: while it's outdated and useless compared to what's available today, it was helpful for people when it was first released.

I recently searched for my own name on Google, and came across a website that made the claim my app was malware that couldn't be uninstalled normally, and provided step-by-step instructions for removing it.

This is, of course, not true and I'm pretty frustrated by the implication.

How should I handle a situation like this? Should I confront the site owner, or handle it a different way?

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closed as off topic by Caleb, Robert Harvey, gnat, Bryan Oakley, Jarrod Roberson Feb 13 '12 at 14:31

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Sounds like an unfortunate situation, but it's really not on topic for this site. Good luck in resolving it. –  Caleb Feb 13 '12 at 4:53
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Hi Jase, while I'm not sure if this is on-topic here, I've distilled your very specific story down to a general problem that many programmers would face. –  user8 Feb 13 '12 at 5:07
    
I'm a developer who just posted my first project with an installer on GitHub. I'd be very curious how this plays out and how others may have handled situations like this in the past. –  DXM Feb 13 '12 at 5:09
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Thank you @DMX, I'd love for this to stay open. I myself am (obviously) very curious as to how others would handle this. –  shane Feb 13 '12 at 5:10
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@EmmadKareem The site he's talking about doesn't care how the programs can be uninstalled. They have exactly the same fake guide for hundreds of programs trying to get you to install some uninstaller application. –  CodesInChaos Feb 13 '12 at 11:15

2 Answers 2

Depends how much value and money it's worth to you. Are you prepared to go to war with them, or do you just want you objection recorded.

I would contact (not confront) the site owner - I would start on the basis that the original software is not malware, and would like to help resolve difficulties people are having. I would ask for him to update the site with relevant information, and provide proof of his claim that the software is malware (Maybe you app got hijacked along the way, and a "version" does exist that is malware) I would ensure that my "fix" to the problem was linked to and/or provided from the site. I would also ask the site author to inform the readers that the software author had contacted you and was addressing issues.

After reasonable attempts at this (and if I was motivated enough, but likely not worth the effort and cost involved) I would consider contacting my lawyer and having a "cease and desist" letter sent to the site. Depending on the wording on the site, you may have numerous legal claims against it, however, if a simple letter does not work, the $$$ will mount up pretty quickly and probably not get what you want. Even one simple letter will cost $$$, and that's assuming it's operating in the same legal jurisdiction as you do - cross borders and it is hopeless.

An alternate approach would be contact the advertisers on the site, and inform them that the site was making dubious unproven claims that had legal implications. A copy of the "cease and desist" letter could be included.

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+1 I like the idea of contacting the advertisers - hitting where it truly hurts... –  cmannett85 Feb 13 '12 at 8:20

It may or it may not apply in your case, but bear in mind that some websites are nothing more than spamdexing ads, which generate the same "negative campaign" articles for thousands of programs, whose names are harvested from some app listings. And all they do is just substituting the app name in the template.

A random example: http://www.how-to-uninstall-program.com/uninstaller/uninstall-FileStrongBox-1-4-0-FileStrongBox-1-4-0-removal-FileStrongBox-1-4-0-JanusSecurityCorporation-windows-uninstaller.html

This type of stuff does not look credible to me at first glance, but if the developer wasn't trying to make any money on that program anyway, my advice would be not to worry very much.

http://www.how-to-uninstall-program.com/uninstaller/uninstall-google-chrome-google-chrome-removal-google-chrome-windows-uninstaller.html - Chrome is getting slandered just the same on that website :)

Noone is likely to come across such an article lest they google up the name of your application, and if it is deprecated and useless now - as you're saying yours is - the author is probably the only person to ever google its name anymore.

In such scenario - which I believe to be quite common - the best thing to do is probably not contacting the website and neither a lawyer, but Google. What such websites are doing amounts to abusing SEO techniques and Google is capable of, and would be within their rights I believe, removing them from their search results, which solves the problem not only for the author, but also other programmers as well as gullible website visitors.

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