What happened to free software download websites?

You’ll have to forgive me for missing out on this, but what has happened to the free software sites out there?  The only pieces of add-on software that I consistently use when re-installing on a computer are Winrar, IrfanView, and usually Skype.  Winrar and Skype are downloadable from their respective sites, but Irfanview doesn’t distribute via his site (it’s just a guy).  So to download this app, you’ve got to go to one of the mirror sites and these sites are right down there in the shitter.

These used to be big names!  Download.com, with its shiny veneer and slick usability, has degenerated into a sick twist of “gotcha” fake download links and revolting design.  Tucows, the cheap and cheerful of the two, is now also jam packed with jarring design and impossible navigation.  Surprisingly, there’s actually good stuff in here!  I had to look over the Irfanview page a few times before I discovered that they’ve actually got howto video’s on usage.  Helpfully, these were under the “Butterscotch” section of the page.  

I know it’s tough making advertising work on site, especially when your users just want to download and leave, but surely there must be a way to make the economics work without screwing with the user so badly?  Most of these sites would make for a great case study on how to intentionally mislead your users.  The age of innocence is gone for these sites.  At least I only need to do this once every two years…

Just for fun, try to figure out which download is the right one on this page:

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