back to article 'A massive middle finger': Open-source audio fans up in arms after Audacity opts to add telemetry capture

Open source audio software outfit Audacity, now under new management, is adding some "basic telemetry", much to the alarm of many of its community. The request turned up in GitHub this week, aimed at providing some telemetry, and the author of the request, Dmitry Vedenko, explained: Universal Google Analytics is used to …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    What the GDPR requires

    Look at what the GDPR says about this.

    Just 2 of the points:

    * Consent requires a positive opt-in. Don’t use pre-ticked boxes or any other method of default consent.

    * Explicit consent requires a very clear and specific statement of consent.

    Mind you: the majority of web sites & applications do not do what the GDPR requires them to.

    1. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: What the GDPR requires

      Yes, the rules are not followed by many. Mostly because of ignorance and many just speculate to keep themselves in the shades.

      But, the real question is why an audio application should implement tracking you and your work? The data gathered will surely be monetized at some stage by some shady corp and sell your data and whatnotmore. Let alone the data leaks that will appear, exposing your work directly or indirectly. Then the shady corp disappears and the data is out there, beyond any of GDPR's rules. Most data should not be generated in the first place.

      1. Martin an gof Silver badge

        Re: What the GDPR requires

        If bug discovery and tracing is the main reason, that's not a bad thing, per-se.

        If tracking usage is intended, it begins to get creepy.

        But the big thing for me is the involvement of Google Analytics, which I have done my best to expunge from other areas of my computing life. Google simply cannot be trusted to play nicely. What does Google bring to the table that they can't do in-house?

        I had an inking something was about to happen as Behringer has been "bundling" Audacity with its cheap kit for some time but has recently substituted something else. Maybe I'll be looking for something else myself, which is a shame as I've been using Audacity for what seems like for ever, but is probably only 20 years or so :-)

        M.

        Just checked, and Wikipedia reckons the first release was in May 2000, so 20 years is definitely possible.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: What the GDPR requires

          > If bug discovery and tracing is the main reason

          Pretending to use Google Analytics for bug discovery is spitting in the eye of the user and calling him a moron. We all know what Google Analytics and "telemetry" is for: Monetizing the lusers any way possible.

          The first step is installing the framework, innocently, leaving it unused: See, nothing to be worried about. And then, slowly, progressively, you turn it up to 11.

          A pity, I liked Audacity a lot. Will have to find something else for my (very) occasional audio editing needs now.

          (And before somebody arrives with the old "freetard" justification, I don't want free. I definitely want cheap but not stunted, since I only use it once every 2 years at best.)

          Fork them!

          1. Gritzwally Philbin

            Re: What the GDPR requires

            Indeed! With that light level of usage, there's NO reason to have a newer version of Audacity - heck, I am still using it on my MacPro that's running - get this - Snow Leopard.

            And it works exactly as I need it to.

        2. big_D Silver badge

          Re: What the GDPR requires

          Yes, Google Analytics is blacklisted on my network.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: What the GDPR requires

        The option to send a crash report, if the application fails is one thing; but the level of tracking here seems OTT for a local application.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: What the GDPR requires

          Local applications should NEVER have ANY tracking in them, REGARDLESS of opt-in.

          I think the FreeBSD port might even need to include a patch to disable tracking COMPLETELY, or perhaps make a "no tracking" build option... that is NO TRACKING by default!

          (to THINK they had the AUDACITY to add tracking...)

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: What the GDPR requires

            I found an issue where Audacity will already have a "disabled by default" build option for the tracking, as a CMake option, so the FreeBSD port could simply leverage that as-is. Good thing I guess...

      3. hoola Silver badge

        Re: What the GDPR requires

        Possibly DRM, PRS and all that stuff.

        I have found it to be an excellent tool in the last year particularly over Christmas sorting out bits of carols for people to sing along to.

        Then add the other excellent product under the same company now, MuseScore. It is currently free and for 95% of users does everything that Sibelius does. I exported/imported a stack of scores for some friends who are music teachers and had been using Sibelius until the costs became too astronomical and the product so complicated that it is a real pain in the arse to use.

        It does not appear to confirm to any normal sort of computer protocols when selecting, adding or editing. Yes it was the first really usable score writing tool out there, pushed heavily in the education space with big discounts but now it has gone the way of AutoCAD and so on. The free edition is so limited it is useless it also barely runs on an average laptop it is so bloated. Then the final straw is all the Avid online crap that you are forced to sign up to. I fully expect all the software that the Muse Group has acquired is going to be monetarised in various ways and this is just the start.

        Shysters.

  2. hedge

    F**k It

    Fork It

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      Re: F**k It

      Or just Pi-Hole it?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: F**k It

        Or just don't check the opt-in box.

        Pi-Hole is great, but it's necessary because of all the scenarios where you can't opt-out.

    2. quxinot Silver badge

      Re: F**k It

      Dear Vulture friends,

      Please tell us when it's forked, so we know what software to replace Audacious with, as many of us would like the heads-up.

      Love,

      Everyone

      1. edge_e
        Coat

        Re: F**k It

        It's Audacity ( the music editor), not Audacious ( the music player)

        1. quxinot Silver badge

          Re: F**k It

          Thanks. Was tired and not thinking :)

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: F**k It

          The move was audacious.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: F**k It

      Well it looks like there's an issue for this over on github

      https://github.com/audacity/audacity/pull/835

      It's marked as 'closed' though. I was going to put my own $.10 in but looks like the pressure is on.

      One specific thing they said: "If you are compiling Audacity from source, we will provide a CMake option to enable the telemetry code. This option will be turned off by default."

      I expect that FreeBSD Ports and various Linux distros will be taking advantage of this, by NOT putting the tracking in.

      (probably best to read their words from the issue)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Audacity opts to add telemetry capture

    and to think that just a couple of days ago I wrote in the forums that the business that bought audacity merely wanted to share their overabundance of funds as a gesture of goodwill and prosperity of all, aka altruistic motive. I'm SO disappointed! :D

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Audacity opts to add telemetry capture

      I, too, had similar kinds of comments...

      TRACKING is THE WORST thing they could have done, short of a PAYWALL. And it's only been a few days...

  4. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Democracy?

    The negative reaction will make sod all difference.

    An example of ignoring people was Forest Heath District Council (conservative) who a number of years back decided they wanted to put car parking charges in Newmarket. They promissed a referendum. They then said they would ignore the result anyway. Then they didnt tell anyone when or where it was to be held. Still someone in the council leaked to the local newspaper (Cambridge evening news) who put a special edition out. People turned out, voted, 97% + against. The council went ahead. Newmarket is now a ghost town, a few mobile phone shops, a stack of charity shops and a few gambling dens, sod all else, a once thriving town centre buggered and car use increased. Not the councils only cockup, they screwed the local education by swapping from a 3 school to 2 school system (it is cheaper to make primary last longer requiring fewer and less specialst teachers) but the results have suffered. They also spent billions on studies on whether there are enough taxis, on a monument for the town centre (millions) on a new bus station in nearby Mildenhall that fails to provide the shelter the old one did for those commuting to work. Yet the local people apparently still vote the conservatives in every single election - regardless - so maybe people dont actually give a damn how often they are screwed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Democracy?

      We have the same problem here with our Labour Council

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Democracy?

        That's why when I'm king all politicians of every hue will be next up against the wall after the lawyers.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Democracy?

          Why not just build a bigger wall and do whole lot at once?

          BUILD THE WALL! BUILD THE WALL!

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Democracy?

            Why build a wall? Just stand them in staggered ranks, at least ten deep (and aim low, not high so nothing misses high).

      2. elaar

        Re: Democracy?

        "We have the same problem here with our Labour Council"

        Is that one of the labour councils that were harder hit (compared to Tory councils) by Tory central funding cuts?

      3. Adelio Silver badge

        Re: Democracy?

        Hard to trust ANY politian, but the thing is what do you do without them.

        I know there are some honest politians, just not always easy to find.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Democracy?

      now a ghost town, a few mobile phone shops, a stack of charity shops and a few gambling dens, sod all else, a once thriving town centre buggered and car use increased.

      Standard small town High Street then.

      Most people are not voting conservatives, just the largest group of people who actually vote. With a turnout of less than 40%, and opposition votes split across independents, libdems, greens and also a few sporadic labour votes, it doesn’t take many to get elected.

      People who have seen a few local council elections in their lifetime, know that changing the guard makes not the blindest bit of difference. Hence the apathy.

      1. Circadian

        Re: Democracy?

        Reading “Rotten Boroughs” in Private Eye pretty much confirms that far too many councillors are just there to line their own pockets.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. RegGuy1 Silver badge

        Re: Democracy?

        PR then to balance things out.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Democracy?

      Get used to late stage global capitalism.

      1. avakum.zahov
        Flame

        Re: Democracy?

        Let's call the things with their proper names, shall we?

        "Late stage global capitalism" ---> Comminusm

        There, I fixed it for you

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Democracy?

          All roads lead to Cronyism, some faster than others.

        2. Slef

          Re: Democracy?

          How does Comminusm relate to communism?

          1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: Democracy?

            How does Comminusm relate to communism?

            Through corruption of course.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Democracy?

      "They then said they would ignore the result anyway."

      Yes, because the company managing the parking charges promised to scratch their backs in return. Same for the rest of the projects: The whole point is to funnel the taxpayers' money into friendly pockets who will then show their gratitude to their benefactors.

      Unfortunately it's always like that: When something which defies common sense happens, just check who profits from it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Democracy?

        Regarding the negative political complaints, why don't those with such views get off your fat arses and become a polititian so you can make the world just perfect in your eyes. Oh yeah, I know why, it's because the people with negative views of everything get shit all done and change nothing by their whining. All they do is bring everybody down.

        This post was about audacity not the bloody polititians.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Democracy?

          "Regarding the negative political complaints, why don't those with such views get off your fat arses and become a polititian so you can make the world just perfect in your eyes."

          Well said. Only they'd soon find out that their idea of perfect is not happily received by the rest of the population. People forget the bigger picture, its so easy to make sweeping disparaging remarks when not in full possession of the facts. I'm a Councillor, you start to see how the world really works a little more when you become one. Of course sticking your head up over the parapet to do so means you're a target for all kinds of ridiculous conspiracies, vitriol, attacks against your character, despite actually being a normal person. I grant not everyone is a nice person and some people go into things for their own gain. It's not mutually exclusive to politicians though. I'm sick of vile and nasty people who really haven't a clue what they're talking about.

          1. James Hughes 1

            Re: Democracy?

            I'm just a parish councillor, which is unpaid and takes up a load of time, which I am happy to give as a benefit to the community. It actually costs me money to be a PC! The number of people who think I am in it to line my pockets and are really quite rude about it is non-zero. Yes, they are vile, nasty, and have no idea what they are talking about.

        2. Shalghar

          Re: Democracy?

          I cannot speak for other countries but the german "parliamentary representative democracy" would need you to rise up in the rank of the ever same parties, which can only be achieved by getting on the good side of "old chumps" and "benefactors". I beleive its quite impossible to brown nose, profit and stay uncorrupted in a corrupt organisation or system until one is on top and then turn around to a merry effort of purging corruption and making the unicorns come back.

          The systematic self amplification of negative structures and outcomes has passed the point of no return many decades ago. Current schemes to take away citizens possibilities to defend against oppression from the state also do not look well.

          As to the implementation of tracking into a once acceptable software, this is the first step into the realm of the unacceptable, not acting against such schemes from the very, seemingly harmless, beginning starts the negative amplification cycles. So good on everyone opposing such ideas from the start.

    5. Potemkine! Silver badge

      Idiots are taking over.

      "

      There's no point for democracy when ignorance is celebrated
      "

      Looking at so-called "social" media, it seems to me stupid people are a majority, so we have the elected official we all collectively deserve.

      Fixing education may help, it's a long shot.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Telemetry collection is optional and configurable at any time

    optional, as Microsoft OS 'optional'... getting more dis-optional with each next new 'optional' / opt-out / on by default / dig into the last hidden options / registry changeable optional version. All for the benefit of [optionally] fucked users of course. No matter, audacity's dead, but I'm happy to use the last spywareless variant.

    1. Wade Burchette Silver badge

      Re: Telemetry collection is optional and configurable at any time

      Opt-in today. But when the dust settles and they think nobody is looking, you will not be unable to opt-out. And when you read the changes, all you will see is "We have removed the telemetry opt-in feature".

    2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      Re: Telemetry collection is optional and configurable at any time

      Agreed – MS "optional" is nothing of the sort. If you're bored of digging through whichever locked filing cabinet (with leopard sign etc.) to find wherever they've moved the options to now, O&O ShutUp10 helps.

    3. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Telemetry collection is optional and configurable at any time

      Microsoft decided to not optionally push their hard update into my computer. It was painful, and it would not boot.. and the worse part is I already knee it would bork my computer.. yet they left me no option even with a pro install.

  6. Marcelo Rodrigues
    Devil

    Use a random generated ID!

    Modify the script used to open Audacity. Ate each new session it would remove the old ID and generate a new one. Let them sort this telemetry...

    1. Dwarf Silver badge

      Re: Use a random generated ID!

      Or even better.. Find the code, produce some new code that generates loads and loads of fake info and send it to the telemetry servers to make it worthless.

      So that this can't be filtered, use any collection of random nodes or spoofed source addressed / your choice of cloud vendors pools. Bonus points when your ISP has CGNAT and many potential customers could be coming from the same logical addresses.

      Looks like there is some fun to be had here if idle minds were looking for a weekend project :-)

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Use a random generated ID!

        > Find the code, produce some new code that generates loads and loads of fake info

        Sorry, but wouldn't "find the code, produce some new code that doesn't have telemetry" be way easier to do?...

        You can't fight Google anyways, not on its own ground: There are hundreds/thousands of developers (and heaps of money) against you.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          Re: Use a random generated ID!

          Hmm. Apparently we have two Muse Group or Google goons here. Can't imagine both downvoters were incapable to articulate why they disagree.

          *scratches head*

        2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Use a random generated ID!

          Sorry, but wouldn't "find the code, produce some new code that doesn't have telemetry" be way easier to do?...

          It is both easy enough and the correct answer is to do both.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Use a random generated ID!

      "Modify the script used to open Audacity. Ate each new session it would remove the old ID and generate a new one. Let them sort this telemetry..."

      Based on what they claim they need the telemetry for, this would mostly work. The only downside for them would be the apparent increase in numbers of users. They still get the bug reports. Still get the numbers of times various filters are used etc. They'd just not be able to tie filter usage to heavy users. Of course, using Google, there may well be other fingerprinting going on outside of Audacity but through other Google interactions which ties all those phantom UUIDs back to you.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Use a random generated ID!

      Wouldn't fingerprints and even the IP address give that away? "Some identifies don't match up" can become a feature in itself, deduced by an algorithm.

  7. LDS Silver badge

    Error gathering...

    Our applications have a button "Send error data" in each error dialog box, next to the "Details" one. Each user can decide to send the error data or not. Many does, as it's their interest to see bug fixed. I'm less interested in how they use the application because we know that not all user use all of the most advanced features, but we know it's those advanced features that makes the applications appealing to many users. And we gather users feedback in other ways - most automatic usage metrics looks pretty dumb and useless - without knowing what they were working on and trying to achieve. That's also when too many applications have removed manuals and usable on-line help system - just throwing you some useless web page.

  8. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    "Just to reiterate, telemetry is completely optional and disabled by default."

    Until an update silently switches it on.

    1. steelpillow Silver badge
      Flame

      "Just to reiterate, telemetry is completely optional and disabled by default."

      Until an update silently switches it on.

      And they don't tell you that when you switch it off, it doesn't actually switch off until you do it a second time in a different place.

      1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

        And of course, it's up to you to monitor the Privacy Policy page* to detect notice of the change.

        *10,000 words, written in Ancient Ferengi and posted as a cyan-on-slightly-lighter-cyan image.

    2. Shalghar

      Does anyone remember the point and click adventure "Zack McKracken and the alien mindbenders" ?

      Then also remember the dumb making alien machine (50 cycle hum) that has only the two main switch options "on" and "on".

      You can turn it on or on, either way, Zak will say :"oh i felt real stupid".

      Luckily you do not need the chainsaw fuel, that´s for another game...

  9. Silny Ogór

    Once you grow up and understand how telemetry works for you as a user, you're happy to accept it and benefit from it.

    1. yetanotheraoc

      Next time use the joke alert

      I laughed (and upvoted), but then again I think everything is funny.

      1. Silny Ogor

        Re: Next time use the joke alert

        >I laughed

        Why? Do you think it doesn't help to improve software?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @Silny Ogor - Re: Next time use the joke alert

          You mean you're serious when you say that ?

          1. yetanotheraoc

            Re: @Silny Ogor - Next time use the joke alert

            Not the same Silny Ogor, check the user id. The second one was definitely trolling, the first one may or not have been joking.

            1. NATTtrash

              Re: @Silny Ogor - Next time use the joke alert

              Silly Ogor...

        2. Shalghar

          Re: Next time use the joke alert

          Only if the telemetry gets sent to the dev team instead of the marketurds and the devs get time and resources to sort out issues of any kind that get identified by properly analising the data.

          But where would be the (directly attributable, non long term thinking) profit in that ?

      2. steelpillow Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Next time use the joke alert

        When I saw this title, I thought it meant the Audacity proposal.

        I mean, FFS; "Universal Google Analytics is used to track..." is actually being proposed SERIOUSLY?!!??

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Only some of the time. As a developer, there are plenty of cases where I would like to collect some telemetry about use. That's not just bug reports, but also information about how it is used. For example, I have a project where I'd really like to know how many people are using old versions and not updating, because that would give me some information about how important it is that I maintain compatibility with older versions. I don't think that particular datum is going to provoke many negative reactions.

      Still, I don't collect it unless someone has opted in, and I don't use any third-party system to collect the data. I don't do those things because I respect my users. While it's not harmful for me to collect versions, it may be for me to collect metadata such as the IP address they used to tell me. There's lots of other information that would be more sensitive. It should be the user's choice whether they are comfortable sending that to me, and it is my responsibility to ensure that they can do that without my divulging data to others. I don't object to opt-in data collection if it's done clearly and by a responsible organization. I view the use of Google and Yandex as the actions of an irresponsible organization, and the change in ownership makes me believe that the process will become unclear in the future. Therefore, I do not like this.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        It really doesn’t matter to Audacity what savvy users think because the vast majority aren’t. So any amount of whining by people on Register comments and 2000 thumbs down might as well be a happy small dog barking 100 metres away.

        1. ThatOne Silver badge

          > It really doesn’t matter to Audacity what savvy users think because the vast majority aren’t

          That's unfortunately generally true, but in this case it has some caveats and limitations: Users need to hear about Audacity first, and it's the "savvy users" who usually tell "the vast majority" about that kind of software. (It's also the savvy users who decide to include it or not in their Linux distribution as default audio editor, but I admit that's more niche.)

          TL;DR It's not entirely the same as with phone apps. AFAIK computer software still works on reputation, and it's the savvy users who build it or tear it down.

      2. ThatOne Silver badge

        > As a developer, there are plenty of cases where I would like to collect some telemetry about use

        That's legitimate, but unfortunately the usual excuse to spy shamelessly on users. Google isn't the best, or even a good solution in your case, it's just the easiest. In your case the best solution would be some kind of poll (don't know the details, so don't know if/what is possible): Not only would it be task-focused and specific, but it also would tell users you're honestly trying to improve your product. Adding Google Analytics into your product would only say "bend over, suckers".

        Never forget that Google has it's own agenda, and much like the freebie users people like to laugh about, developers "are the product" too.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          You may not have read my feelings about Audacity's move. I do not like it for exactly those reasons. I don't use Google because I feel the same way you do; all opt-in telemetry from my code (most of which is people who agreed to use the beta builds and send it) is sent to and processed by my own infrastructure. More work, certainly. The only respectful way to treat the users, yes.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            > You may not have read my feelings about Audacity's move.

            I was talking generally. The simple fact you ask yourself those questions shows me we certainly agree on the basics.

            .

            > all opt-in telemetry from my code [...] is sent to and processed by my own infrastructure

            Sure, but the problem is the user has no means to know that. All he knows is that the program spies on him, for the rest he has to take the developer's/editor's/broker's word for it, and strangely enough, bad guys don't always volunteer the information they're trying to stiff you.

            In short, between perfect strangers distrust is the norm, and anything looking like a hostile move will be perceived as, well, a hostile move.

            Handy example: Maybe Audacity won't become in a couple months a PI-gobbling monster, we don't know anything. We can only assume, given what apparently was a first step towards spyware hell.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Oh, look

      Only the second (and third) post. I suppose it makes an improvement on a first post going so massively against the grain.

    4. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Bend over, comrade – it is for the good of the Party!

  10. yetanotheraoc

    opt in issue solving

    Whatever happened to "please run command xyz and paste the results from stdout here"?

    1. ScissorHands

      Re: opt in issue solving

      It only happens 0.0001% of every bug occurrence, because 99.9999% of users don't report bugs. Makes it hard to know about bugs, which is the first step in solving them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ScissorHands - Re: opt in issue solving

        If they don't report the bugs it means they're not really impacted. Or that they already moved somewhere else.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: @ScissorHands - opt in issue solving

          ...or when you click the button, it tells you the programme wasn't complied with debug mode switched on and therefore the bug report can't be submitted without symbols tables and such like.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shrug

    Lots of histrionics around this. I'm pretty fussy about leaving a small digital footprint. I run ad blockers, I don't have social media accounts, heck, I even post as AC on El Reg. I also do things like enable popcon when I install Debian. I like the people working on the Debian project to have data to help prioritize working on one package over another.

    If Audacity was tracking what type of music you worked with, or who you collaborated with, that would be a big deal. If they collect the data and a year from now they say "hey, 80% of our users are running this pluggin, maybe we should improve its integration to the main product", that's a positive use.

    Google's involvement raises concerns, but may be preferable to a home grown collection system from a security standpoint.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: shrug

      Google’s involvement is a ready to go off the shelf api. It’s convenient.

      It’s no use trying to be objective about this kind of subject, not when it provides a golden opportunity to get sanctimonious.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: shrug

      Why do you think stating the use case of an atypical user is relevant to the discussion?

  12. ScissorHands
    Flame

    Good idea, badly communicated and implemented

    Mob rule is amazing. It's opt-in. It has been clearly stated and disclosed. Compared to Microsoft, Muse Group has been a model citizen. If you're worried about being silently activated after you opted-out, do you audit the source code of each and every patch you apply? Well, you should then. Might find that's all you do, and unless you're being paid to do just that, you won't get anything else done. Enjoy your bugs. Fix them yourselves, it's open source! Fork Audacity. Fork it from orbit. It's the only way to make sure.

    Even a pop-up offering to send a report after a bug doesn't catch many categories of bugs, and most people hit Cancel on those anyway.

    About the Google and Yandex integrations, they leave me uncomfortable, but should Audacity, which survives on contributions, spend contribution money creating an analytics platform?

    Where's the open source and free as in freedom analytics platform with a worldwide CDN, guys? Isn't open source the solution to all problems?

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Good idea, badly communicated and implemented

      As a long-term user of MuseScore - which is an extremely competent music notation application - and of Audacity, I'm relatively relaxed at present.

      In the longer term, I'm not sure whether using a "freemium" revenue model to fund additional developers is actually sustainable, but as long as the software remains open source, that's actually a risk for Muse Group, not for its users. I'll be more concerned if economic imperatives cause a move towards a cloud model.

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Good idea, badly communicated and implemented

        I'm also a long-time MuseScore user. I was happy enough to throw them a few quid every so often when they were volunteers, but I'm damned if I'll line the pockets of the greedy bastards at Ultimate Guitar.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Good idea, badly communicated and implemented

      It would be nice to hear a solution... Maybe make an open-source (thus inspectable) telemetry module available for separate download, and clearly label it as such. From there, state: "if enjoy using Audacity, please consider downloading *this* telemetry module. It will help us squash some reported bugs, and guide our future efforts. It will only collect information of X type, and it will keep a local log of all data that it has sent us for your inspection. If you want to be super helpful, perhaps you can try to recreate the conditions associated with certain bugs, listed *here*. Owners of Blogg XY 20 hardware, we especially want to hear from you. "

  13. karlkarl Silver badge

    So now they have a company backing, they are suddenly less able to support multiple platforms (presumably only monetisable platforms).

    Bunch of twits. If I had any interest in audio, I would fork it out of principle. It isn't a big project either, a small team or even an individual could likely maintain it.

    I hope package maintainers (for Linux and BSD) don't just blindly update to these later sub-par versions just because the version number is larger.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Faceplant

    Just announced the merge with Muse, still hearing nervous chatter from around the world as people discuss what this means for the project, and boom. Face down on the deck four steps from the office door.

    That didn't take long did it?

    1) Why in the love of gods green earth was this on the Todo list in the first couple of months after the takeover? This was like going on a first date and going out of your way to cut your toenails before the waiter has filled up the water glasses. Have they not heard of first impressions?

    2) Bloody ask first! Why don't they ever read the room before doing this stuff. Nope just announce it, and don't stop to see what everyone else thinks till afterward. By which point you are putting peoples heads out with a fire extinguisher.

    Sadly, for everybody that had misgivings, management has now confirmed their fears and concerns. As everyone who has ever been tasked with filling in a giant hole, it's much harder when you are standing in it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Faceplant

      And there's absolutely nothing on their website that says who they are or where they are in the world. From the point of view of their website, it could be two spotty teenagers operating from a bedroom, or tiny subsidiary of a huge corp.

      I'm sure others have already dug into it and can enlighten us as to who they are and where they are based, but Muse Group seem to be trying to keep that info from the casual reader/user.

      1. sus

        Re: Faceplant

        It seems that they're heavily linked to the Russia-created website called Ultimate Guitar.

        Oh, and speaking of their website: they use both Google and Yandex analytics on their website, and the latter's constantly pinging Yandex servers. Audacity's website also has both.

        1. TVU

          Re: Faceplant

          "It seems that they're heavily linked to the Russia-created website called Ultimate Guitar"

          The company itself appears to be registered within Belgium in the European Union so that might serve as a limitation on their excesses but the developers themselves are based within the Kaliningrad Baltic exclave of Russia.

          The ties with Yandex are of potential concern because that corporation is subject to oversight and influence by the Putin government by way of the Putin-friendly Public Interest Foundation.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Faceplant

      > Why in the love of gods green earth

      Because they don't care?

      Of course it could also be that their bosses are terminally retarded, but what's the chances of that?

      The whole thing stinks of arrogance and greed. Like you said, on a first date you usually try to behave, they could had waited for people to get used to the idea of Audacity getting commercial, and then bring the gift of Google in the first upgrade. Instead of Google Analytics actually being the first upgrade. At least it shows where this is heading.

  15. Peter Prof Fox

    bug =/= crash. Crash goies into the pit.

    If my app gives 5 when I input 2 + 2. That's a bug. It will never get reported by automatic methods to base.

    My app shares a service with other apps on my system. That service is updated to a version which my app doesn't work with. Some time later the app crashes. Now what happens? There's some cringe-worthy 'oops' screen which doesn't help me fix the issue. Auto-crash-reporter sends some data to base but does somebody on different continent email me with the answer? No.

    I'd be happier with 'Raise a support ticket' rather than 'all your data belong to us' approach. I know Audacity is free, but a let us know, or 'let us know how you worked around this poking and hoping through year's-old stack-exchange articles' would be better.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Peter Prof Fox - Re: bug =/= crash. Crash goies into the pit.

      Please get to the point. Customer data is juicy, just sitting there to be harvested and we don't want to be the last one to do it. Anything else to add ?

  16. Mage Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Google analytics

    Telemetry unless PURELY and obviously Opt In, is wrong.

    But is Google analytics even legal in EU if you opt in? Certainly immoral. Web site owners, run your OWN analytics and don't share it.

  17. RegGuy1 Silver badge

    Just block out the analytics links

    $ grep google /etc/hosts

    127.0.0.1 google-analytics.com

    127.0.0.1 googletagmanager.com

    127.0.0.1 www.google-analytics.com

    127.0.0.1 www.googletagmanager.com

    $

  18. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Buggeration

    I use Audacity a lot. It's my go-to for cleanups and tweaks on existing audio, as well as recording new material.

    At the moment I can't think of anything that does the job as well, and with such a small footprint.

    I guess I'll have to start a wider search.

    1. jonathan keith Silver badge

      Re: Buggeration

      Try Reaper: http://reaper.fm/.

      There's a full-featured 30 60 day trial, and if you like it, the purchase price is *insanely* low. It's also simple to use, very small and astonishingly powerful. Support resources and the online community are also both excellent. Can't recommend it enough.

      1. Ceiling Cat

        Re: Buggeration

        it also ships with a ton of extremely useful plugins. The interface for those plugins may not be as attractive as some of the commercial-grade VST offerings, but they do the job just fine.

      2. The_Idiot

        Re: Buggeration

        999999 thumbs up for the Reaper comment.

        Don't get me wrong - I love Audacity and have for years. Whether I'll ever complete another download/ 'upgrade' has become much less likely. And I love my Reaper licence as well - yes, paid for at the (I agree) *insanely* low price (dependant on whether/ how much income you generate with it - though even the 'professional' licence is cheap in real terms for 'professionals').Audacity was, until these two announcements, great. But the announcement saying it would remain free appears to have the potential to only apply to licence-to-use cost - and only so far. If I'm giving data, yes, at this point 'voluntarily' (if I'm paying attention and careful), it already isn't _really_ free.

        Ah well. Just my two cents - worth a wooden nickel on the open market.

  19. sgp Bronze badge

    Telemetry?

    The audacity!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Ah, finally! I read through the entire selection of comments to find this specific comment, the penultimate in the list at time of posting. Well done. If you'd not done, I was all set to post it myself :-)

  20. ecofeco Silver badge

    Spyware?

    Time to move on.

  21. coconuthead

    Doesn't inspire confidence in their software chops

    Looking at the stated reasons in their github post, we have:

    3. They want to know whether they should drop support for macOS 10.10.

    4. They have a known issue with the new 3.0 file format that they want to collect more data about.

    Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but if their new file code is corrupting data, it seems to me they should roll back to 2.x, properly test and debug the new code, and re-release 3.0 when it's actually complete. I'm not a fan of developmemt by trial and error no matter how many data points you gather, and I think even if people aren't paying for the software they have the right to expect it does not corrupt their audio data.

    As for point 3, I no longer have anything resembling 10.10 to test on, but by now I would be expecting that version of macOS to be having problems with root certificates and cipher suites such that there is no guarantee it can even talk to the telemetry servers. And as a Mac developer, I'm wondering why they are wasting their time faffing around with ancient development environments that can even target it. Leave these people be with whatever version of Audacity was current with their version of macOS.

    1. TimMaher Silver badge
      Windows

      Yosemite

      Wow, even my early 2008 pro was running El Capitan when I finally had to send it to the retirement home. It was becoming a bit incontinent with DRAM sets.

      Now using a mid 2012 with High Sierra (still need some 32 bit) but running Mojave inside a VMWare client.

      I am not expecting support from software manufacturers except as a piece of luck.

      As this has happened immediately after the purchase I smell a rat.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Doesn't inspire confidence in their software chops

      > if their new file code is corrupting data, it seems to me they should roll back to 2.x, properly test and debug the new code, and re-release 3.0 when it's actually complete

      Nonsense! What happened to "move fast and break things"? "Breaking things" is vital to modern progress! (Repairing them is unimportant, and thus optional.)

      1. Nicodemus's Knob

        Re: Doesn't inspire confidence in their software chops

        Nonsense! What happened to "move fast and break things"? "Breaking things" is vital to modern progress! (Repairing them is unimportant, and thus optional.)

        What utter bollocks, breaking things is what programmers do that don't understand what the fuck they are doing. The target is to code with next to zero errors. Thank goodness there are programmers out there that actually give a shit about the quality of code they write.

  22. Binraider Bronze badge

    3 days is long enough to fork it surely?

  23. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Good-bye Audacity

    It's a shame, but you had a good run.

  24. Elledan Silver badge

    Audacity was already on the replacement list

    Since Audacity is no longer supported on Windows 7, I'm only using a crufty old version and was already looking for alternatives.

    I get the 'it costs resources to support a platform' part, but I cannot imagine that dropping a platform the moment it's in extended support is very reasonable. Also looking at KiCad here.

    1. MarkSitkowski

      Re: Audacity was already on the replacement list

      I run version 3.0.2 on Win 7, and it works fine. Having read the article, though, this will probably be the latest version I'll use.

  25. david1024

    Typical

    I understand why the new minders might want the 'power of data' to see what users are doing, but what they'll get is only what a few are doing. (Ask Microsoft) In reality, unless you make it hard to opt-out... You are just as good doing a poll in a zoom meeting. I suppose it enables you to punish the folks that opt-out by hiding behind your 'inaccurate data'. I mean, if features/fixes are important, you'd enable the tracking after all, right? Are bug reports that hard to make these days? Maybe I am just too old. I don't see the point here for the minders... unless it is to desensitize us. I agree we should make a stink about this now and always.

    I feel this will break Audacity in the long run, and that may be their goal.

    Time to fork the code and let these new minders drift... leaving the project orphaned would be a better path if these are the only folks that can maintain it. And if you want their features... Use their spyware version! I'll just keep my old version... Because it may be opt in now, but I am not going to audit their code every time I need to upgrade or install ... Just skip it and the new drama.

  26. Sam Adams the Dog

    Who the hell cares?

    What the report omits is a count of active members who did not respond either way. I would guess that they constitute a vast majority of active Audacity users who don't give a damn either way.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Who the hell cares?

      Most likely, they represent users who don't read the comments on the source. A lot of users don't ever intend to edit it, so they ignore it. It doesn't mean they don't care, it means they didn't see it. For example, until I read it here, I didn't see it. I use Audacity on occasion, but I don't monitor its repo because I don't use most of the advanced functionality. I have other programs for that. Therefore, I wouldn't know either.

  27. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Gimp

    The next Audacity update?

    Buy a license for $200 and nothing will be tracked, use it for free and if you don't purchase a license after 30 days then the information will be stored.

    I'd be good with that, Audacity does a fantastic job recording very old scratchy 78's (originally played with thorn needles) and it take very little effort to end up with a CD quality 78 recording. I've been listing to my grandfather's 78's and they are excellent after running Audacity on the recordings.

    1. ThatOne Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The next Audacity update?

      > Buy a license for $200 and nothing will be tracked, use it for free and if you don't purchase a license after 30 days then the information will be stored.

      In real life, buy the license and you will still get tracked, just like with the free version... If paid phone apps are any indication, the greed monster is definitely out of the bag. Ads, tracking, in-app-purchases (because the base app you buy is stunted), the works.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The next Audacity update?

        That's is why achieving the ideal of GDPR should be achieving would help make paid app development a sustainable industry.

  28. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Audacity:

    Mark for Complete Removal.

  29. boatsman

    their own server to collect this stuff?

    would make more sense..

    for a few dollar p month....

  30. boatsman

    their own server to collect this stuff....?

    would make more sense..

    for a few dollar p month....

  31. Esme

    How did any decent software ever get created without telemetry? </sarcasm>

    Oh, FFS! Sigh. Telemetry data might be NICE to have for software developers, but it sure as heck is not essential, else there'd never have been any good software developed pre-internet.

    As a less-than-averagely-knowledgeable-on-IT-stuff El Reg denizen, if a new version of Audacity suddenly came up with a dialogue saying something like "We'd like to collect some telemetry to help us spot bugs; would you like to install the telemetry add-on?" I might have been OK with it,depending on the mood it caught me in. But to me, opt-in checkboxes imply that the telemetry software is there anyway, just not switched on - or that's what is claimed, anyway. And I don't want telemetry thank you very much. I am willing to send an email or enter a form o a website if I come across a bug, but that's fully under my control as to whether I do so or not.

    MY computer, MY decision over what goes on in it, and who it talks to! Insofar as my limited ability to understand and do something about these issues goes, anyway. And frankly, the stuff that I don't understand/can't do anything about should be illegal, worldwide.

    Does the company I buy bread from need to know every time I consume a slice of their bread and in what manner I consume it, i order to make a decent loaf of bread? No! Does Linus need to know what I'm doing with Linux in order to improve Linux? No! So I don't see why Audaciity should need something that an entire bloody operating system which is FAR more complex doesn't need, in order to improve. Yes, I know I'm technically naieve compared to a lot of folk here, but Ialso know that I have friends who are even less technically ept think much the same way. Grrrr..

    Set lawn = "my computer"

    Set getoffof = "stay out of"

    Print "Oy! ";getoffof; lawn; " world!"

    (with apologies if my hazy memory of PC1211 BASIC is inaccurate. I've slept a few times since then)

    Sigh. Aaaaand.. deep breath, thoughts of flutterbys and bunnies in sun-soaked meadows lest I blow a gasket. Gotta be careful of the old blood pressure these days...

  32. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Fork it then

    If you don't like what they do, then fork it.

  33. The Nice Bit

    Over a barrel?

    Bad move....

    As a home hobbyist I just wanted to be able to use a free product when I started with Audacity, and it's taken me a lifetime of on-and-off use to get the hang of many products such as this.

    There are VERY few good products like Audacity - even those you pay for.

    What do you use if Audacity becomes payware - or worse still moves to a rental only model?

    I suppose its inevitable that this sort of thing happens, it's probably the first step in developing a revenue stream. But for many like myself I am suspicious- because I have seen this before where the product gradually sells its soul to Malware companies in order to make a few bob.

    I think they've got us 'over a barrel' - as Audacity may be amongst the last two or three pieces of decent, major audio software out there.

    Their are plenty of video apps but very few for Audio, and we need new developers for the serious Audio market.

  34. staringatclouds
    Unhappy

    "Just to reiterate, telemetry is completely optional and disabled by default."

    ...until it isn't

  35. jukejoint

    Yandex has the elasticity we need!

    Govt. offices here in the US use Audacity for a LOT.

    "Chain of evidence" and interviews and testimony just became corrupted in the most banal of ways.

    It's a problem, people.

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