Author Topic: How avast kicks you lying down, draggs you screaming and kicking in tothe future  (Read 1968 times)

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Offline mathsmith

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Avast! Free Antivirus 9.0.2021 Forced Update
In September-October 2014, Avast forced a program update to all global users of its Avast! Free Antivirus program (“AV”), to version 9.0.2021. No explanation was offered to users, and the update was forced to all users irrespective of whether they had set their AV program updates to “Automatic”, “Ask”, or “Manual”. Avast provided no prior warning or explanation to users.

Many users had been using older versions of the program, such as versions 5, 6, 7 and 8, as well as earlier sub-versions of version 9. Users had valid reasons for using older versions, and the forced update potentially exposed those users’ systems to problems such as those resulting from the new verson’s incompatibility with old or non-standard operating systems.

Users in certain areas of the world are restricted in the quantity of data they can download, with fees associated with usage beyond their prescribed limit. Without consulting users, the forced update downloaded version 9.0.2021 potentially pushed some users over their download limits. It is conceivable, therefore, that the forced update resulted in real people, in the real world, incurring actual costs as a direct result of Avast’s forced update.

Users came to the Avast forum to ask why their installed AV had ignored their “Ask” or “Manual” program update setting. Many such users initially thought they must have done something wrong, because it seemed inconceivable that Avast – a company whose flagship product purports to protect users from malicious files and software – would be so immoral to install software onto their computers without notice.

A number of threads popped up from forum members, new and old, seeking information about this most unusual and unheralded phenomenon. They were met with scepticism and ridicule by forum regulars who berated the users for complaining; the regulars stated that their systems were fine, that it is best to always have the latest version of software, that Avast had every right to force the update on the machine of every customer around the world, and that the users had nothing to complain about. Users expected some level of blind devotion from the regulars, but not to that extent.

A forum member named drake127 (“Drake”) identified himself as a member of the Avast team and went on to explain what had happened, and why. Drake stated that Avast was rationalising its AV version update mechanisms, and that going forward, Avast would only support one sub-version of each major version number between version 5 and version 8. To ensure all current users would continue to receive support, Avast saw fit to update all users to the most recent release – version 9.0.2021 – without notifying users beforehand. Drake empathised with users who expressed upset about the forced update.

Forum regulars continued to belittle users who aired their displeasure with the forced update. The regulars insisted that users had no valid reasons for using old versions of AV; any such reasons were dismissed by the regulars as stupid and dangerous in that using old versions would expose those users’ machines to infection – never mind that many users who took issue with the forced update were very experienced system admins and power users, entirely capable of making their own decisions about the best way to protect the systems of themselves and their clients.

The regulars repeatedly posted blanket statements that the forced update was justified, and demanded that the “whiners” shut up and stop complaining. Recognising that the regulars were not in fact members of the Avast team – rather, they were simply devoted fans of Avast – the users refused to yield or concede that the topic had run its course, until Avast acknowledged its wrongdoing. As tends to happen in such situations, tempers frayed and each side started posting personal insults about the other.

Forum staff responded by deleting the newer users’ posts, without notifiying those users of the actions being taken, and without advising the reasons for those actions. At least one of the newer users was banned. Looking at what was posted by each party involved, it is clear that the staff simply sided with the regulars and did away with the newer users’ posts, as that was the easiest option. However on objective reflection, and in reviewing the content of posts made by regulars and newer users, it is clear that the newer users were no more at fault than the regulars.

Instead of accepting user feedback and using it to review their practices and/or improve future versions of AV, Avast – represented by its forum staff – chose instead to ignore the valid and valuable feedback, delete the posts calling them “disruptive”, and treat forum regulars with favouritism over newer users.

Emails have been sent to the board of directors of Avast including the CEO and the VP of Customer Satisfaction, including screenshots of the forum.

In a nutshell – What Happened:
1. Avast force-updated all AV users to version 9.0.2021 in direct contravention of its own implied pledge to respect users’ wishes not to update, with no notification to users.
2. Avast forum regulars berated and belittled users, calling their reasons stupid, and told them to “just update”.
3. Avast forum regulars and newer users butted heads, insulting each other in equal measure.
4. Avast forum staff deleted the newer users’ posts and banned at least one newer user.

In a nutshell – What Should Have Happened:
1. Avast notifies all AV users that after _ days, only versions _____ and _____ will continue to be supported. Users are given the choice to update to a supported version or uninstall AV.
2. Forum regulars welcome new members, acknowledge their concerns, and offer help if possible.
3. Forum staff act objectively and without bias, treating all users equally.
4. Having failed to do step 1, Avast publically acknowledges its wrongdoing and apologises to users.

UPDATE: Forum staff ban user “The More You Know” who had only posted one post – this one. Apparently this thread is worthy of an immediate, unexplained ban.

Offline MartinZ

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Hi,

we recently lifted most of the bans on older versions. What version do you prefer?

Offline Eddy

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No explanation was offered to users
Just because you didn't read it, it doesn't mean avast didn't explained it. They sure have explained it. Multiple times even.
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Users in certain areas of the world are restricted in the quantity of data they can download..
Nothing that avast can do about it. What type of connection, if there is a data limit etc mostly depend on the users financial situation and what they chose to have.
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potentially pushed some users over their download limits.
Users can always monitor their data use and even have a alert when it is closing in to the limit.
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install software onto their computers without notice
Sure, it would have been nice if avast more clearly announced the update before rolling it out. But I wonder how many people would have read and understood it...
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Forum staff responded by deleting the newer users’ posts, without notifiying those users of the actions being taken
Only on very rare occasions posts are deleted from this webboard. Most posts that get deleted are from people that only post to advertise something. When foul language is used, the poster will get a warning and the text of his post can be altered by a moderator. A ban is only given if a person is violating the rules/guidelines on this webboard in a very severe way.
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it is clear that the staff simply sided with the regulars and did away with the newer users’ posts, as that was the easiest option
They sure didn't. They only side with the regulars if they are right. If the regulars aren't, avast sure will say so and will not be standing at their side.
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Instead of accepting user feedback and using it to review their practices and/or improve future versions of AV, Avast
You are totally wrong here. avast sure does accept feedback and they are listening to the users. avast in fact is encouraging to give feedback and they sure do use it to make changes/improvements and such.
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and treat forum regulars with favouritism over newer users.
Wrong again. avast is treating everyone on this webboard the same. If a regular steps out of line, avast sure will give him/her a warning and/or take other action(s).

Keep in mind that "the regulars" are just users of a avast product (or multiple products).
Yes, some are more "fanatic" than others but that is with all things in life. (Every person is unique)
But believe me, they sure do let avast know if they believe something is wrong.
And they are not always doing it in a "friendly" way.

Offline schmidthouse

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Snip from Eddy>
Quote: "Keep in mind that "the regulars" are just users of a avast product (or multiple products).
Yes, some are more "fanatic" than others but that is with all things in life. (Every person is unique)
But believe me, they sure do let avast know if they believe something is wrong.
And they are not always doing it in a "friendly" way".


In the years I've used Avast and participated in this Forum, I have to say this is true.
There are those who believe Avast can do no wrong, But they are few!
For the most part users have had a big say in development direction. There have been many areas of development since version 4 (2000-2002) and long time users have had a major hand in it. 8)
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Offline lakrsrool

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Needed to be said and I would add certainly exceptionally well stated by mathsmith. (hands-clapping)  Put in perspective, there are no doubt many well intentioned "regulars" that contribute to the Avast forum and they are deservedly appreciated by all who seek out help on this forum. That said however, of those "regulars" who unfortunately do tend to fall prey to the "blind devotion" narrative, I think we can all agree that they would clearly do well to model after those "regulars" who do make the sincere effort put the user's issue at the forefront as opposed to defending Avast at all costs as we so often see from some of the "regulars".

None of this is intended to be demeaning in any way but rather offered as a constructive way to improve the interface between Avast users who need assistance and those who are presumably there to help those users with issues regarding a product that we all, users and "regulars" alike want to succeed to the fullest.  The better Avast does the better off all us users of Avast will be, which is unquestionably the bottom line.
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