Something Interesting is Happening at Gizmo's Freeware



Something interesting is happening at Gizmo’s Freeware. We are going to start reviewing a limited number of paid software products.

No, we are not changing the focus of the site nor are we going “commercial.” Our principle focus will remain free products just as it has always been.

The move to adding some paid software has been prompted by three factors:

First, there are many excellent mobile apps that cost a tiny amount of money, some as little as 99 cents. For many people these low cost apps are perceived to cost so little as to be free. It makes no sense to exclude them from our site particularly when the quality of some of these low cost apps is class leading.

Second, some of the best software programs in a given class are paid products. If I look at my own computer there are several products I’ve bought because I feel they do a better job than any free product. Most of us are in the same position –we own at least one commercial program or app.

Given this fact, it would be hypocritical for us to proclaim that free software is always best and also unethical for us to be aware of a superior paid product yet not tell our readers about it.

The third and final factor is that many of our readers want us to review commercial products. I know this because of the dozens of emails I’ve received over the years. Mostly these emails argue along the following lines: “Gizmo I love free stuff but sometimes I just want the best even if costs extra. Why don’t you give me some options and let me decide whether the extra features are worth the money.”

We are not going to have reviews of commercial software in all categories. Instead we will only have commercial reviews for categories where we believe that there are paid products that are better than their freeware equivalents. I expect this to be a limited number.

To kick off this process I’ve written a set of reviews for commercial VPN services and we hope to have this online this week. I’ve used a commercial VPN myself for the last two years because I could find no free VPN that provided the features and level of service I wanted. Based on my own experience I’m sure this new set of VPN reviews will be really useful to our readers as well.


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All of the hand wringing, second guessing, and some downright offensive attacks on the site owners and contributors is absurdly ridiculous and disingenuous. NO software, like any other human-made commodity, is FREE: someone, somewhere SPENT time, thought, energy AND lucre/money to produce it. I never understood the mindset and thinking [sic] of those who believe that software should be given away by its developer(s) for nothing more than the psychic income derived from their being generous. I wonder, how many of those folks, especially those who caterwaul the loudest, donate, not all, but even a portion of THEIR time and money and any intellect to the commonweal?

Techsupportalert is ALWAYS among the first three stops I make when looking for expert, reliable advice and information about software. I have wished, for a long time, that I could learn their writers' opinions about THE BEST software for a particular task, such as data recovery, be it free or paid. In trying to recover the data from those two Seagate 750 GB hard drives I'm neglecting to vent here, I want to know what The Experts think offers me the best chances for success. I DO NOT want them to decide for me what my data is worth. Kinda like when I go to my doctor. I want her BEST advice, not her most economical.

So, what IF Techsupportalert begins making money doing what they always have done, though simply reviewing commercial software does not mean they will? Whom does that hurt? How wrong-minded one has to be to delude him/herself that, after all these years of generously and honorably serving the online community, the folks here woke up last Tuesday and decided to become greedy trolls for sale. Are those who posit such absurd ideas simply projecting their own demons?

Ghacks is struggling and Raymond is a mere shadow of its former self; both due, in large part, to Google's "not being evil". Dottech (SharewareOnSale, HungryforApps) has found a way to survive with a bit of trial-and-error in finding that balance between needing to eat and to pay contributors, hosting services, electric bills, etc., while remaining "free" to its visitors.

Software, blogs, tech-support websites and lunches are not free. Get over it.

Well done Gizmo, this move does make sense!
Keep up the good work!

I quite like the idea, as long as its categorized properly. So people dont think there looking in the freeware section.
Or if there is a separate site, Gizmos Paid software or something with an appropriate link on this site

As I seems about 8-9 years ago (46-best days) you and a couple of your friends started a separate site that dealt with some of the exceptional commercial software. I bought some based on your recommendations....but lost track of you when I (went to the dark side) bought a Mac. I really appreciate that you are now doing the Mac thing as well as the Commercial side. It's a great (and your site) have a reputation for trustworthiness and those that are helping seem to be of the same mindset.

The title of this site is Gizmo's FREEWARE. I don't see the need to mess up a moderately nice freeware site with PAID software. Is going the way of I sometimes come here to find great and well-reviewed FREEWARE, not overpriced paid software! Are you changing from Gizmo's Freeware to Gizmo's Software? Or will Gizmo's Freeware soon become Gizmo's - Beware: Paid reviews of expensive software?

Did you read Gizmo's statement? If so, everything is explained there. MC - Site Manager.

You are correct, in some cases a paid app can be more valuable that their free counter parts. It only makes sense to include them for folks searching for a particular capability.

The comments section is one of the best features of the Gizmo site. It provides insights into points a reviewer may have missed or suggests relevant products not covered in a review. I always check out the comments before pulling the trigger on any new app -- its easy to weed out those that have no value. I'm sure, as long as you continue the comments feature, any issues with a commercial app review will surface quickly.. You have a pretty sharp audience.

Good Move
by the way , who is the girl in the image above?

Although I think it is a good decision, it could be dangerous because once you start with paid software people could question whether an editor is getting a commission?



These are important issues that need to be raised and discussed.

Here at Gizmo's we have always tried to put our reader's needs ahead of chasing a buck, which is why we are always struggling financially. That's fine we are perfectly comfortable with that.

That policy won't change when we review paid software. In fact when you read in the next few days, our first set of reviews about VPN services you will see exactly the same "say it as it is, warts and all" style that we apply to our freeware reviews. I can tell you here and now some VPN services are not going to be happy.

Whether we review paid or free software doesn't matter. What is important here is the maintenance of the site's ethical standard. It has always been high and will stay that way. That, I pledge.

For example, this site does not allow Google ads for gambling, adult sites, get rich quick schemes and a whole bunch of other dubious activities even though those ads would generate us much more income. That is what ethical standards are about.

In the same way we are not going to recommend paid software that isn't any good just because the vendors offer higher referral fees. It simply is not going to happen. Once again it is about ethical standards.

Ethical standards give you strength because you always know where you are coming from. That's why we feel perfectly at ease accepting referral fees from any high quality paid products we recommend just like we are perfectly happy to accept the earnings from honest Google ads. And if some products don't pay anything for referrals that's fine; we will still recommend them anyway just as we always have.

So nothing is changing at Gizmo's other than we will now be covering a limited number of commercial products which means our users will have a wider choice in the software they select. It is no more complex than that.

So check out our first set of paid reviews. You will see nothing has changed.

Update: Our first reviews of paid software are now online here: Best VPN Services


Well that argument could apply to all the websites that review everything from books and movies to vacuum cleaners. I think most people have more sense than to make a decision solely based on a single review they read somewhere.

That argument crosseyedlemon is used by some about all websites it gets *bigger* when there is money involved.

Excellent move. Your site is always my first go-to when I'm searching for an application to achieve a new task and extending the scope of your reviews can only be to everyone's benefit.

The only caveat I'd place is that, should there be any sort of financial consideration involved with the review of a product either now or in the future, that this be noted within the review. I trust and value the integrity of the reviewers here; this move would protect that invaluable asset.

Hmmm....if you trust and value the integrity of the reviewers here then why would you even bother to mention that caveat? Do your really think the staff would actually begin a product review by saying "Hey we got paid big bucks to review this app so here is our unbiased analysis".

It isn't what *I* think that counts - I'm an enthusiastic advocate. My concern was simply that reputations take a long time to build, but can be lost overnight and the overt transparency I suggested was to keep things squeaky clean for future users.

There is a saying that a plate cracked even if fixed never looks the same.

I don't think you have to worry about the staff here compromising their reputations. If you look at the products they like most in every category you will see that they still listed shortcomings of the programs or things that could have been better. This site has a huge following because it is known for providing balanced reviews listing both the pros and cons of each product or service...and I don't expect that will change.

Agree 100% the integrity of the reviewers is the most valuable asset of the site, it has been rock solid for years and there is no reason to believe that the planned introduction of reviews of paid programs as clearly stated will diminish that.

A shame really. This was such a great site but like ghacks, & many others now selling/advertising/pushing paid not free items. Free is free anything more is not free. .99 means using a credit card or paypal etc etc which costs more money. I hope the paid items are in a separate section so we can avoid completely and not mixed with the free.

IMHO such a shame.

The reality is that without advertising you probably would never have heard of computers and this discussion would not be taking place. Some people seem to think that software can be created and maintained at no cost to the developers. We should be thankful that there are so many developers that ask for nothing other than maybe a product registration or small donation. Many of the freeware programs that the staff has directed us to are worth well more than a paltry 99 cents so lets not condemn the developers for trying to offset some of their expenses.

+1.5 on "Joe A.TT's" comment, fwiw.

Does this change mean that users are now free discuss commercial programs both here in the comments and on the forums? Or is that the site's Management will be redefining the boundaries of what can be discussed with regard to free and paid?

Comments related to commercial products will only be permitted on the main site pages where these have been reviewed and not on the freeware review pages. Such comments must be relevant to the review and not just promotional statements in favor or other products. We have yet to determine exactly how commercial content can be discussed in the forum. In part, we need to see how visitors react to the changes after which the forum and main site rules will be amended to reflect the new policy. Obviously we need some flexibility for members to discuss commercial software but we also need to keep out the spam. MC - Site Manager.

Thank you MC. Since the site is changing the rules people need to know what the new boundaries are. I think a further announcement needs to be made, both here on the main site and in the forums, after the team has determined just what can be discussed regarding commercial software.

Asked when it was first announced in the Editor's forum. Pretty vague answers, but it seems around the same except that paid software reviewed here will have their place in the forum.

It certainly won't do any harm to review products that have a genuine value to them that makes them a worthwhile purchase at the least amount of cost.

I am really pleased to see this. I'm interested in the BEST product for a given mission and am willing to pay a reasonable fee for a good product. Many products offer both free and paid versions.....and often when a program is good, I just buy the paid version if there is a sort of ROI for the cost. I also like the suggestion made earlier to ask users for feedback on programs, or suggestions on programs that should be included in a review. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!!! I'm a long time reader

Thanks for your always great contribution to all of us users. I suggest that, when you are ready, you ask us to recommend our favorite, low cost, software. Would certainly give you many to consider. Your fans have a great store of technical know how.

I always wonder if or how much better a paid product is by comparison. I wouldn't mind paying a small amount for a much needed feature that doesn't exist in the free/open products. This change is welcomed.

I've always trusted the advice provided by Gizmo reviewers, but wondered how the best free software compared to paid software. Once again you have addressed this concern by myself and probably many others. Thanks