Mediapost has in interesting piece today by Bill Day of WhenU on the ethics of adware. His three main points are Relevance, Respect and Restraint. I really like what he say about restraint.
Restraint -- there's another word that's hardly heard, let alone practiced. We must show fewer, more relevant ads. Cookies must be more transparent Stuff can't be dropped on desktops without clear disclosure and consent. We should make it even easier for the consumer to opt out than it was to opt in. Privacy policies and license agreements must be short and free of legalese. It should be made obvious where the ads are coming from, and why. It's time to abandon outmoded, impossible-to-police distribution models; paying hundreds or thousands of affiliates per-click or per-download is a proven recipe for disaster. (emphasis mine)
I couldn't agree more. What a contrast with some other adware vendors' attitudes and practices! I saw Bill Day speak at the CNET Antispyware workshop in May and was postiively impressed with his genuineness and the changes he outlined that WhenU had already made, (note that "already made", not promised), total elimination of active X installs and bringing all distribution in-house. Here's a confession I thought I'd never make. I tested WhenU's applications recently and discovered I actually liked their WeatherCast program. That's a huge statement coming from an anti-spyware "zealot" like me. WeatherCast shows the local temperature in your system tray and, when you click it, it gives details and forecasts for 2 locations of your choosing. It does not spawn pop-ups. It displays a small text link within the application itself. I also tested Claria's Weatherscope and The Weather Channel's desktop application, but didn't care for either of them. I haven't tried WeatherBug yet.
At any rate, I think the other adware companies would do well to adopt WhenU's philosophy and emulate some of their practices.
Hat tip to Sunbeltblog for the link.