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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot Olney's Avatar
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    Forced software upgrades

    Since there are many developers & webmasters here I wanted to know what are opinions on buying a script that has an implemented FORCED upgrade included.

    We are experiencing a script that we own that just locked up on us & we think it's because we chose not to upgrade.

    Has anyone else ever experienced this? Do any developers out there support this?

    Seeing that we spent hours & days of fustration over this script we just wanted to basically leave it as is. We have some customizations & basically just did not want to reset our style or custmizations to the site. The upgrade consist of upgrading & then you have to redo ALL of your custmizations. We just don't want to go through it.

    Should software makers tell you: Your site will go down if you don't upgrade?
    Basically letting you know they will remotely disable your functioning site if you don't upgrade.

    For webmasters would you purchase software if you knew that after just 6 months or a year they could remotely disable your site that you have tried to get indexed & promoted?

    Who benefits from this? I mean we are not happy with the script in the first place & don't want to touch it free upgrade or not. The thought of spending more money on a script we don't like is even more absurd....

    Any comments, or experiences are appreciated.
    IDN Domains The future of Domaining.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Evangelist bronze trophy Derek Sheppard's Avatar
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    I would not buy any such script, as it amounts to little more than an extortion racket, in my view.

    What script are you having problems with? Are you sure it's related to the upgrade and not just an everyday glitch or bug? What does the developer say? You contacted him first, right?

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot Olney's Avatar
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    It was our dating site run by Datetopia.com's Match Agency Biz
    Our website J-Match.com

    sorry but we think this kind of stuff in inexcusable. It was bought 1 year ago & expired because they deemed it as being very old.

    Realistically the new version they have has tons of more features than the purchase we purchased 1 year ago but we are totally pissed at the thought of forced upgrades. If it was a matter of upload a few files & run an upgrade script that would be easy but we have to back up the database & all files, delete all files off the server, upload the files run a few different sql quieries, & then go back & figure out our custom settings for style configurations & run the sql back up for those too.

    Not really something we want to do over the weekend, & we can't access the admin to even check what our settings were. We are locked out that too.

    We are just going to purchase webDate as a quick solution because it's pretty easy to use, configure, & easy to understand.

    We don't know if they continued this kind of system for the new version they have but we are not going to take any more chances.

    To be fair they did immediately send us the latest version of the series we purchased but after seeing what we have to do to upgrade it reminded me of why we didn't want to upgrade in the first place... this is the second time they sent it to us but the first time we had no indea our license would expire if we didn't upgrade...

    I'm not going to dog their company I just think the company is structured more to create residual income for the developer than to create a truly stable product for webmasters.

    Is there any other software that has the same hidden locks included?
    IDN Domains The future of Domaining.

  4. #4
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    I would check the EULA you signed on that one because it is pretty shady to say the least.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Evangelist dalt's Avatar
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    Unusual?

    If you think Dateopia has disabled your site, I would first check that this is correct.

    Secondly, check your terms of agreement. Even if they have this clause in it, it flys in the face of any acceptable commercial agreement. And, at the risk of being attacked by the quazi lawyers here on Sitepoint, because it is in the agreement, it would not stack-up in court. I can give examples of this.

    If then, you find this is the case that Dateopia has done this, you should find an appropriately qualified lawyer quickly.

    I'm not in the US, but this would be construed as criminal damage in my Country.

    Dalt

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot Olney's Avatar
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    We realize they did not remotely purposely dissable our site.
    The script automatically disabled itself somehow.

    We will admit
    in there license it clearly states

    You must not use product versions older than 6 months if newer versions are available.

    We just now realized that our site did get automatically disabled because we did not upgrade. If it was simple we would have but we don't like the idea of reseting our settings & then doing them over using sql backups. We also don't feel secure just giving access to our server either.

    We are not going to pursue legal options or anything drastic. We already spent money on the software & will just move on to something else.

    We just want to know are there any other software that the license expires automatically if you don't upgrade the script?
    IDN Domains The future of Domaining.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Evangelist dalt's Avatar
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    [QUOTE= You must not use product versions older than 6 months if newer versions are available.[/QUOTE]

    The age old legal term comes into play here - Caveat emptor [L.] (Law), let the purchaser beware, i. e., let him examine the article he is buying, and act on his own judgment.

    However, it is one thing to have this in the licence, it is another thing to have something built into the script that may disable your site.

    Datetopia are very active in a thread in this forum. I have been looking at buying a dating script, but after reading this about Dateopia, they can jam their script. I suggest if you haven't already done this, make the thread aware of this problem. I am sure they would lose a lot of business out of it.

    Dalt

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot Olney's Avatar
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    Actually their new license agreement states this:

    "You must not use product versions older than 6 months if newer versions are
    available. You must update the core package with the latest FREE patches
    available. We reserve the right to suspend the license if a new free update
    is available and not used. This protects the reputation of our product and
    your website's security."

    In all versions we have archived on the computer there is a license agreement. The line about suspending is NOT in any version we own. Of course we believe they added it after our purchase, we just never saw this line before.

    You guys don't know how it feels to be running a popular site that I recommended the software personally to my company owner & to come in, use the computer, log into the admin & see a blank white screen just stating this:

    Usage of this software is not authorised!
    Match Agency BiZ (Licensed for www.j-match.com)
    Copyrights @2003. All rights reserved.
    Please contact the author : (at ) datetopia.com; (at) ateom.com; (at) @yahoo.com .
    Support: http://www.datetopia.com

    License expired ! (23/06/2005)
    Please contact for a new package!
    Detected domain: j-match.com


    They have been responding to us about this if you do keep up with the latest upgrade you will not have this problem apparently. Just the method of upgrading for this version is pretty horrid, & they are not the best at clear documentation... 100% chance we will loose something on each upgrade.

    As far as the other thread they can get business if they can I just want to know if there are any other scripts like that, especially php scripts that we should realize your site will be suspended for some reason.
    IDN Domains The future of Domaining.

  9. #9
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    What an incredibly moronic way to do business.

    Bringing down a site without warning, not to mention forcing upgrades (free or not).

    In theory this could bring down your entire site and cost you thousands in revenues. If people keep coming back and seeing that message they are not going to come back once it is fixed.

    These guys are just begging to get sued, and not for nickles and dimes either. Let's say you were bringing 10k a month in revenues, the site goes down for two weeks due to this insanity.

    5k in direct lost revenue, then lets says half the people don't come back for 6 months, you could argue for another 30k in lost revenue due to the shutdown. 35k in losses due to them wanting you to upgrade the software. Hope the company has big pockets to cover themselves.

    Well this is certainly a must read for anyone looking to buy their software, I certainly wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole now.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard HarryR's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I'm not sure which legal category this falls under, but if you have spent significant time and effort to customize the application and they provide no clear upgrade path which allows you to keep your modifications in tact.

    In this situation I would be forced to take it into my own hands and exhaust all possible methods of circumventing the licensing method just in order to keep the site functioning as it should be. I would then use the additional time it gave me to actually work on applying the patches/upgrades (considering they are free) and migrate when you are ready.

    The phrase comes to mind, 'if it aint broke, dont fix it'. Although you're licensing the application for a specific period of time rather than per-version, this still seems like really shady business practices which could lead to a fairly substantial financial loss for you and your business. For example, how would you feel if Microsoft completely stopped your legitimate Windows installation from functioning as soon as a new version was out.

    Ideally they should re-issue your license with perhaps another month of time allowing you to migrate, rather than just saying 'Update or die'.

    Regards,
    - Harry

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot Olney's Avatar
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    No we bought a full license...
    Not a time based license.
    If we did that I would have thought it was my fault.

    In all fairness they did send us a non time expiring upgrade. We had it before... Our site is getting or was getting popular & we know that the upgrade is not a simple one. We don't want to reset almost everything & try to back it up from our own sql back ups. We lost things every time we upgraded.

    I thought about upgrading to the newest version & having them install it..
    My company owner looked at me like he wanted to kill me..
    Why would we just go through the exact same thing again?
    That's why we are going to switch. They clearly state now your site will be suspended if you don't upgrade. Free or at cost we'd like to get to the point of just marketing the site & not applying full upgrades.
    IDN Domains The future of Domaining.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Being a lawyer and having been in the software business for a while, I can safely tell you that agreeing to upgrade software to use the latest version is enforceable. I have no clue what Dalt is talking about examples and my feeling is that he is talking about certain "unconscionable" clauses that are not enforceable but that clearly does not apply here.

    I don't think such a clause is a great business decision, given the kind of software it is. In most instances the "agreement to upgrade" is based upon different factors where it is usually in the best interests of both parties to upgrade and also where the developer's software is known to the public -- not necessarily the case here. With highly customized scripting this is not always practical as well, and I can certainly relate to olney's frustration, especially with a script like datetopia which I feel requires a HUGE interface hack to make it easy to use for visitors and easier on the eyes.

    I highly doubt that the software automatically disabled itself. It doesn't seem to be the case. I will say this much -- I don't think datetopia has an understanding of the market and his customers. He is very responsive here, which is a good sign. I think he does try hard to provide support for his script, also a good sign. But I just think the products are like great development efforts that are missing the client support that is needed. Virtually every PHP dating script I have seen features that, unfortunately. I have had good conversations with webdate, although I won't buy the encoded script which is fine for some but not for me. I think you'll be happier going that route ultimately.
    My law forum and legal information website -- I also buy websites you may wish to sell

  13. #13
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    Did you contacted authors,did they resolved that issue.
    You know stuff like that happens.

  14. #14
    Non-Member datetopia.com's Avatar
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    Post Match Agency BiZ Upgrade

    We delivered the latest version for that package for FREE as soon as we received the request from the website owner.

    Here is part of our reply that should clarify our point of view :
    In the End User License Agreement (compulsory with each purchase) the buyer accepts this :

    "You must not use product versions older than 6 months if newer versions are available. You must update the core package with the latest FREE patches available. We reserve the right to suspend the license if a new free update is available and not used. This protects the reputation of our product and your website's security."
    http://www.matchagency.biz/_license/eula.html

    12 months (not 6) have passed and you did not care to update your website. I remind you that the update is FREE.

    If you have bug related issues, please report these. The changes and bugfixing details are public and clearly written here :
    http://www.matchagency.biz/versions.html

    As you can see there, great improvements have been brought to the software in the latest year because this is a very dynamic industry. Also, an important vulnerability has been found (related to the possibility to upload double extension files as pictures and run these for certain server configurations) and all older packages need upgrading to protect both your websites and our software reputation.
    In earlier versions of the license agreement the 6 month upgrade clause is stated under RESTRICTIONS :
    You must not use product versions older than 6 months if newer versions are available. This is to protect the reputation of our product. You must update the core package with the latest free patches available
    We specified later that only FREE upgrades are compulsory because we don't want to force customers to pay for upgrading to higher derivative packages.

    Olney >>
    You can backup anytime all your data & configurations with a mysql tool like phpmyadmin from cpanel and your settings from the settings.php . No need to go to the webmaster area.

    Full install instructions come with each package. If you don't have the time to upgrade, we have a partner team that can provide script installations and upgrades for just $25 :
    http://www.datetopia.com/script-installation.html
    You can also hire a freelancer that doesn't know the software, for this task, because the instructions are detailed.

    These FREE upgrades are for your own benefit. These add many improvements, fix many bugs found by us or other customers and - most important - protect your website from vulnerabilities that could permit hacks that can result in private information disclosure and total data loss - big problems for any membership website.

    As agreed in the eula an upgrade should be requested after about 6 months. The software reminds this after 12 months. The second package we deliver (after 6 or after 12 months if webmaster forgots to request it after 6 - not respecting the eula) does not remind about any upgrades. The reason for this is that 6-12 months is usually the development cycle for a big (major) version package and after that time development ends for that package (except patches for vulnerabilities) and no extra upgrade are available and required.

    Customizations can be kept on upgrades with the template, payment and settings files provided as source code.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    datetopia, I think you are missing the point. Your customer bought the script from you to use for his site. What do you care whether he upgrades or not? If there are vulnerabilities that the customer will have to deal with them, not you and that's his/her problem.

    I've seen your software and, as I've said many times, the user interface leaves something to be desired. If I used your software there is no way I'd want to have to keep track of every modification I have made in order to get it to look right and make those changes every six months. It would be an insane effort. vBulletin is a good example of relatively robust software that doesn't require major hacking efforts although some do. Do you think they care whether someone upgrades? Their package is far more complex than yours and if they don't care, respectfully, I wonder why you do.
    My law forum and legal information website -- I also buy websites you may wish to sell

  16. #16
    Non-Member datetopia.com's Avatar
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    Customizations can be kept on upgrades with the templates, payment and settings files provided as source code.
    Currently the website template engine covers the website layout, homepage, entry page, member account area, color settings, styles, images, icons. We plan to add the profile page in the next version.

    There are also multiple templates for blogs and standard emails.

    The upgrade timer protection is built into the software. We don't remotely activate the upgrade warnings.

    Our policy is clearly written in the end user license agreement and also mentioned on various topics on different forums (including ours). Each buyer has the choice to accept this and buy the software package or not.

    We can negociate a custom End User License Agreement and remove the protection for customers that request this.

    The upgrade timer protection solves a lot of problems:

    1. Webmasters upgrade their original package to the latest version meaning :
    + bugfixes
    - solve problems with the software providing a better service for the users and webmaster
    - a functional copy without bugs protects the website & software's reputation
    +vulnerability fixes
    - reduce a lot the risks of website hacking that can result in private information disclosure and total data loss (big problem for any membership website)
    +multiple new features and optimizations for that package
    - increase the quality of the website's services and reputation of website and software

    2. We also have a zero carding tolerance policy. If a chargeback occurs for an order, that license will not be renewed. In time, this reduced a lot the number of carding attempts for purchasing our software.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Evangelist
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    Quote Originally Posted by datetopia.com
    The upgrade timer protection is built into the software. We don't remotely activate the upgrade warnings.

    Our policy is clearly written in the end user license agreement and also mentioned on various topics on different forums (including ours). Each buyer has the choice to accept this and buy the software package or not.
    I think you are again missing the HUGE point. Since (a) the overwhelming majority of software/scripts I have seen do not have this provision and (b) modifying a whole lot more than just front end templates takes place in this area, this issue is so important I would say that it should be disclosed right up front and not hidden in some EULA. I have no idea why you care whether a user upgrades or not and if you want to you can discontinue support for a product that is out of date.

    I think the lack of your focus is exemplified in your inclusion of a "zero carding policy" in your answer. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

    You are 100% correct though. If someone doesn't like your policy, they don't have to buy the script. Given the policy and the current product, I cannot imagine anyone who would want to buy the script with that policy. It's an honest opinion and I think most here would agree and are trying to be helpful to you in understanding the mind of the customer.
    My law forum and legal information website -- I also buy websites you may wish to sell

  18. #18
    SitePoint Addict Hajduk's Avatar
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    Exaclty why we do not purchase so called quality work from firms like Datetopia. Faulty scripts, amateur liscence. We have adviced 6 of our customers to stick to proper coders and proper software. All our software for dating is now in C++, our larger sites with 500.000+ users are sattiesfied .

    It is poor customer service and poor product deliverance to provide a script that can be hacked. Datetopia's scripts are being offered nullified all over the net, which proves my point.

    It is not just Datetopia though, there are others that use the same tactics to sell faulty scripts. Now in case the Datetopia guys start to complain about my post. I will be happy to post the SQL injections on your scripts on public forums to proof my point.(But then again that would be seen as a violation of policy so I will spare you) A good thing though is that Romania (I think that is where Datetopia is) will enter the EU in the future. That means that we can legally persue against them according to new EU regulations of software packages and so called liscences. This is a good thing because it will end the misinformation. To me it is as if small firms pursue Microsoft tactics but they just fail to grasp the idea that updates for security and bugs is and should be always 100% free.

    But then again, I am just a humble manager of a humble firm and no one listens to me anyways.

  19. #19
    Non-Member datetopia.com's Avatar
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    Exaclty why we do not purchase so called quality work from firms like Datetopia.
    You purchased from us an older software package, Match Agency 3. ( http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/show....php?p=1604248 ) I've already replied to your frustrations.

    All our software for dating is now in C++, our larger sites with 500.000+ users are sattiesfied .
    Can you provide some sample urls of your websites ? Last time you were using php nuke on your websites.

    It is poor customer service and poor product deliverance to provide a script that can be hacked. Datetopia's scripts are being offered nullified all over the net, which proves my point.
    The latest encoded versions of our software were not nullified until now, unlike most commercial packages (i.e aedating). Nullifiers managed only to distribute the early versions of Dating Agent that were distributed with source code or very weak protection 3 years ago.

    I will be happy to post the SQL injections on your scripts on public forums to proof my point.
    Please do so, we'll be happy to fix any vulnerabilities you find. But I don't think you even know what you are talking about.

    That means that we can legally persue against them according to new EU regulations of software packages and so called liscences.
    Why persue agains us if you don't want to buy and use software from us ? Or you plan to ?

  20. #20
    Non-Member datetopia.com's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slinky
    I think you are again missing the HUGE point. Since (a) the overwhelming majority of software/scripts I have seen do not have this provision and (b) modifying a whole lot more than just front end templates takes place in this area, this issue is so important I would say that it should be disclosed right up front and not hidden in some EULA. I have no idea why you care whether a user upgrades or not and if you want to you can discontinue support for a product that is out of date.

    I think the lack of your focus is exemplified in your inclusion of a "zero carding policy" in your answer. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

    You are 100% correct though. If someone doesn't like your policy, they don't have to buy the script. Given the policy and the current product, I cannot imagine anyone who would want to buy the script with that policy. It's an honest opinion and I think most here would agree and are trying to be helpful to you in understanding the mind of the customer.
    "Since (a) the overwhelming majority of software/scripts I have seen do not have this provision" doesn't mean that we can't have a different business plan and upgrades policy as long as this is public and customers can decide to take it or leave it.

    "(b) modifying a whole lot more than just front end templates" is not possible in this area because the core protected scripts are encoded. Customizations can be applied to the templates, settings files that are provided with source code and can be kept on upgrades.

    I don't think I have any lack of focus if I explain our policy and reasons. I know you don't care about fraud, about our money and time beeing lost by providing services to fraudulent customers but a company that doesn't care about this will not stay for long in this business.

    "He who wants a rose must respect the thorn." Persian Proverb

    In this business loss from fraud is huge (chargeback costs, cost of services provided to fake customers that don't pay, sales loss from piracy and illegal sales/distributions). I've seen dozens of software websites and developers that started fine but dissapeard in few months or 1 year.

    A good software package is developed and tuned for perfection in a long time - and a company that doesn't protect its interests is unlikely to be able to sustain this development.

    We are talking about different software packages and different policies. Many customers prefer our software packages (especially Match Agency BiZ) to others, including these conditions.

    We develop and sell dating software since 2002 and our business is doing well. Wish you a good internet business, too!

  21. #21
    SitePoint Evangelist dalt's Avatar
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    Defending

    A suggestion.

    As it seems Datetopia always seems to be defending their business approach, maybe they should rethink it, as I find it a big turn-off.

    Dalt


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