A tale of hypocrisy, double standards and malicious code.
A dark day
So the drama in the Kodi world this week revolves around TV Addons and in particular one of their most respected developers – a developer who also commits code to the official Kodi repo. If you’re not familiar with the story a well known TVA developer released malicious code which turned all of his users into a weapon. Users of the Exodus add-on were unknowingly breaking the law by performing a ddos attack on 2 websites which had absolutely no relevance to the add-on, it appears to have been nothing more than a pre-meditated revenge attack. I don’t care who or what started this attack, all I can say is there is no place in the world for ddos attacks; it’s one of the lowest, most spineless cyber crimes anyone can commit. It’s generally young script kiddies who perform such attacks and to see such a (previously) well respected developer add this to his code is very angering, very saddening and most of all very worrying. I say worrying because there have been a number users at TVA who’ve tried to justify what’s been done, that could well be naivety but the most worrying aspect for me is some developers have tried to justify these actions and they should certainly know better. Who’s to say they won’t also be re-using this malicious code in their add-on updates?
Now 18 months ago I wouldn’t have even considered writing this article, being the owner of the site it was my duty to be completely impartial. However, I’m no longer in charge and now have the status of developer BUT as I still have admin access to certain things on the system I’m taking this opportunity to reveal some truths. Please bare in mind the following is based from my own personal experiences and may not be the view of any other NaN team members. In other words if you’ve got a problem with what I’ve written here get in touch with ME and only ME (whufclee), it has nothing to do with the NaN team and I don’t use social media of any type so you’ll need to use the forum.
The TVA Machine
I’m sure many of you have been on the TVA website/forum and have seen their claims that any add-ons developed outside of their camp (excluding the official Kodi.tv repo) are “sketchy” and they strongly recommend steering well clear of such add-ons. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to try and discuss any non-TVA content you may well have even received a ban or had your post severely censored.
The above is something you will NEVER find here at NaN – everyone is welcome and you’ll even find some of the posts on the forum link to pages on our “rival” sites, users are frequently pointed towards the correct site/forum for the support they require. Whether it’s TVA, Ares, Xunity or whoever it really doesn’t matter – if we feel there’s useful information on any site the team (and end users) will link to external sites and discussion is more than welcome on any subject. In my humble opinion this is exactly how it should be, Kodi help sites should remain as impartial as possible and as open as possible. With that in mind lets just take a look at my experience with TVA…
It was a proud day when I was asked to become a member of the TVA team (or XBMCHub as it was then) and worked voluntarily almost on a full time basis for over a year. Sadly due to some in-house fighting in the staff section of the forum (nothing related to myself btw) the time came when I felt the need to announce I was leaving the TVA team to join another site. After this announcement I was banned, all my thanks for replies on their forum were set to zero, they banned any talk of non TVA devs/websites and my username was changed to strangeANDabusive – yes not childish at all! I would like to add I’m certainly not the first to be treated this way, others have had similar experiences for speaking out about the TVA machine.
Following on from this XBMCHub (now TVAddons) pushed the first piece of malicious code seen by the Kodi community (Sept. 2013); without warning this automatically deleted certain developers add-ons from users systems. This may seem like old news and not relevant to the current situation but the point I’m trying to make is it’s not the first time that group has released malicious code to their users and I very much doubt it will be the last.
Regardless of this childish behaviour I continued with my original goal of creating a website where anyone was welcome and could talk openly without fear of censorship. TotalXBMC was designed to be somewhere fun for XBMC/Kodi enthusiasts and as I didn’t want to tread on the toes of other Kodi based fansites I decided against adding a forum – it was purely a blog helpsite with links to various downloads/tutorials. After a number of months and due to popular demand a vote was cast to the public and the outcome was hugely in favour of adding a forum. Although I didn’t realise it at the time this was the beginnings of a new site called noobsandnerds.com.
A year later and the Ice Bucket Challenge was in full effect and everyone was joining in trying to earn money for a good charity. I was nominated to do it and thought this would be the ideal opportunity to try and patch up the differences between certain members of the community – after all who can decline something charity related? The head honchos at Xunity, Mashup and TVA (formerly XBMCHub) were called out and regardless of our differences everyone took part. Everyone that is except TVA. They refused to respond, banned my new username on their forum and deleted the charity post almost as quickly as it went up (proof here)! Seriously it’s only a bit of fun and for a good cause, I mean what type of group refuses to even respond to any attempts to contact them when it comes to a global charity event. As small a thing as it was that was the day I lost all respect for the TVA machine.
Within a year of the forum going live TotalXBMC only had one developer who’s coding ability at the time was truly atrocious but we already had more forum members than TVA. See it just goes to show it doesn’t matter how many talented coders you have in your team, nobody cares – people just want to be respected and feel welcomed. By the way that “developer” (I use the term very loosely lol) was me, I’m still far from perfect but continue to learn from all the other great devs we have here now.
Moving on a year or two and you’ll find not a lot has changed; XBMCHub may now be called TVAddons but the same fascist regime is still there – speak against them at your peril. Below are just some of the issues I have with them:
“Don’t buy cheap Chinese boxes”. What they mean is don’t buy cheap boxes unless they’ve been rebranded and we have an affiliate deal to it on our website which in turn will earn us a cut in the sales. Example page can be found here.
“Recommended VPN services”. Again what they mean is “these are the VPN services we have affiliate links to, they may or may not be the best but we get a cut so you should definitely only use these“. One particular developer told of how they were forced to remove a VPN add-on from their repo due to the fact TVA didn’t have any affiliate links for that service and their repo was on fusion.
“Do not use builds”. Errm hold on, TVA were one of the first to bring out a build, in fact you were one of the first to bring out your own wizard. I guess the TVA build is so superior to anything else out there it’s not a worthwhile exercise for anybody else to even attempt competing. If I remember correctly it was so good TVA even had the audacity to charge for it, that was until it got kicked off the Play Store.
Fight the machine!
Finally on this little rant I want to defend third party developers who choose NOT to use TVA as a support forum for their add-ons. Whether a developer chooses to release their code independently or they choose to release via an already established website/forum the choice is entirely theirs and that should be respected. They should NOT be bullied into joining the TVA machine, we’ve seen plenty of examples where legitimately forked (and often improved upon) code is being slammed as “stolen” by certain TVA devs. Often not only has the dev forking the code followed the license requirements but they’ve been respectful enough to clearly credit the original author(s) for everyone to see. Now what I find strange is when a developer chooses to use TVA as the outlet for their add-on and forks the same opensource code there is no uproar. Clearly the rule is if a TVA dev forks another TVA devs code that’s perfectly fine but should anyone else have the audacity to use the code they are slated (for re-using opensouce code and improving upon it???!). Double standards much?
I really could go on and on about how badly both developers and end users outside the TVA camp are treated and how corrupt the whole hierarchy is over there but I won’t – it’s not going to serve any purpose. The purpose of this was to open peoples eyes as to exactly what’s going on over there, don’t believe everything you’re told and always question any accusations made (not just from TVA but in general). Please, whether you’re reading a tweet or an article such as this I urge you all to educate yourselves on the subject matter before making any assumptions. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of being lazy in our research and jumping to the wrong assumptions in our past but now’s the time to break free from the sheeple population. Start right now, research the validity of my claims in this article and make your own mind up on whether or not I’m talking bullshit – don’t just follow what some YouTuber says. Go on I dare ya!