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The big shareware awards scam

Many authors of shareware and freeware software proudly display the awards their software has won on their websites. You can see some of the awards that my programs have won below.

This is actually a tiny fraction of them and I was getting so many I now just ignore the emails announcing them that regularly arrive in my inbox.

If you see a large collection of awards next to a shareware or freeware program on a website you might assume that it is a highly regarded and quality product.

However, you should not be fooled by these awards because they are handed out to pretty much anyone that submits a program to a shareware/freeware library.

Here's what should happen:
You submit your program to a website that carries shareware and freeware software. The site adds it to its listings and at some point it will get around to trying out the software and then it will decide what score it will get, such as 3-star, 4-star or 5-star. An average program would get a 3-star award and an outstanding one would get a 5-star awards. The author of the program is notified and they can place the award on their website.

5starsivertech (1K)

Here's what really happens:
You submit your program to a website that carries shareware and freeware software. The site adds it to its listings and without even testing it, automatically sends the author of the program a notification that they have won a 4-star or 5-star award. The author places the award on their website with a link back to the site that awarded it.

I suppose some software libraries do test the software they list (my apologies to those), but how can we tell which ones are genuine and which ones aren't? In my experience the vast majority automatically send awards out when a program is submitted so that you place a link back to their site. The programmer gets to display an award to its visitors and potential customers and the software library gets a free advert with link back to its website. Both parties benefit from the award.

This relationship is good for the programmer and the software library, but as a shareware and freeware consumer looking for good software to download from the internet you should not be fooled by these awards. I have submitted programs to libraries and within a few seconds have received a response saying I have won a 5-star award. The website owner has obviously set up an automated response and no-one actually looks at the programs, tests them, or decides what award they are worth.

The next time you see that a program has won lots of awards, take them with a large pinch of salt. They don't mean much. I get so many emails saying I have won this or that award these days that I end up simply deleting the messages. It is exciting when you get the first one, but when they fill your email inbox every day it becomes more of an irritation. Of course, I am greatful to the sites for listing my software and I wish I could mention everyone, but I simply don't have the space, so sorry to the zillion that I have missed out.

Are my programs worth the countless 5-star awards they have received? Try them and see. That's the best way to see if a program is any good. It's standard for shareware to work for 30 days for free, so you can try a program out for a month. If you like it and want to keep it you can then register it, but if it's not what you want you can simply uninstall it.