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ContextPro™ (TopText) Data Sheet
Knowledge Base on ThiefWare and other Software

Knowledgebase HOME    Gator    WhenU w/ SaveNow    TopText (eZula)
EasyLinks (Surf+)    Flyswat    Microsoft Internet Explorer

 

SOFTWARE NAME
TopText; a.k.a. ContextPro Advertising, HOTtext (misspellings: hot text, top text, context pro)
SUPPLIER NAME / URLs
eZula / www.ezula.com, www.toptext.net
AD TYPES
Contextual Ad Links, gold colored underlined links turn to yellow highlighting when cursor is focused over them.
DISTRIBUTION METHOD
Bundled with KaZaA for Download: KaZaA is an MP3 file sharing program with a huge distribution amongst users wanting to share files — a very popular program with MP3 file sharing enthusiasts.

With KaZaA getting into legal hot water at the end of 2001 for encouraging people to swap copyrighted music, KaZaA will no longer distribute eZula's TopText. However, eZula has other partnerships with software bundles for distribution.

AFFECTED BROWSERS
Microsoft Internet Explorer, versions 4.0 and higher.
EASE OF DIRECT REMOVAL
Can be difficult for the User: Uninstalling is made easier via 3rd party uninstallers. The Windows default Add/Remove Uninstaller Utility was reported to not be effective at removing all TopText components. Several Webmasters at the JimWorld Search Engine Forums reported that if one particular component is left installed on the computer, TopText will get reinstalled upon connection to the net. This ThiefWare wants to ensure it is not easily deleted which makes it particularly invasive for those wanting to remove it from their computer.

eZula does provide an uninstaller executable file with TopText labeled UNWISE.EXE. Don't let the name scare you away from using it—it does appear to work well. We are not sure that it removes all components of TopText (we would hope it does). The TopText uninstaller can be found in this directory for Windows based computers (Windows95, Windows98, Windows2000, WindowsME, WindowsXP SP1 & SP2, and future versions of Windows): C:\Program Files\eZula

A third party developer has also created a safe way to uninstall eZula's TopText program. See this page for the link.
AD DISABLE METHOD (server-side)
Web Page Refresh Script or DHTML Link Removal Script: Under certain circumstances refresh scripts cannot be used to remove link overlays on Web sites as is the case when porting 3rd party ads through your Web site. There may be other reasons as well. The other alternative is to use DHTML scripting to reverse the effects of TopText.
HOW IT WORKS
eZula's TopText program uses your computer to contact the eZula servers to download the latest advertiser links.

Once the data has been downloaded, the keywords are compared with text found within Web pages that you view. If word matches are found, those words or phrases are linked up with yellow links that link to various advertisers and perhaps other information.

The process of downloading data to your local copy of eZula TopText can slow your computer's function especially when you have more than one ThiefWare program on your computer. For many, this is a security concern due to the nature of TopText's potential ability to talk with external servers. According to eZula, it collects information about the words that were marked by eZula and clicked.

The main issue has been that users get TopText installed onto their computers via distribution partners providing free downloads. People still complain that this ThiefWare got installed without their permission. That would seem to indicate that the TopText installation is not well indicated. At times the explanation of TopText is buried in the EULA for accepting the terms of using the free software bundled with eZula's TopText.
THIEFWARE MARKET EXPOSURE
In 2001, TopText was being spread around quite a bit through the KaZaA file sharing applications. As of late, this method seems to have abated, but eZula still has other software download partners as well as direct download from their Web site. It would baffle us if anyone installed this ThiefWare to use especially if they realized what it does with their computers and how it affects the future of Web sites.
OTHER COMMENTS
This software overlays (a.k.a. super-imposed) advertiser contextual links on Web pages viewed by the user via MSIE. eZula has not made available a way for Webmasters to disable links from showing on their sites. Those links can lead your site viewers/customers to your competitors.

Users have experience interrupted navigation on web sites due to TopText hijacking links within Web pages.** When a user clicks on a navigation link that is also a TopText link, the user gets a small popup box with a small link to continue with normal navigation and another link of the same size or at times a larger advertisement encouraging the user to leave the site.** This can be both frustrating for the user as well as the site owner.

** This is the way the older software version worked—newer TopText application versions have not been tested for this specific problem.

 

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