Though not a big fan of 43Things, they have been around since 2004. That, all by itself, is huge and speaks volumes about this group. I do know that they are not condescending scam artists-and I firmly believe that if they were going to do something as fail-bound as inflating d/l numbers, they're smart enough to begin with a number that wouldn't put a brand new plug-in within the same range of downloads as FireFTP and WebDeveloper...and 5 million MORE d/l's than FoxyProxy... but that's just me.
It doesn't make me feel better about myself playing Internet tough-guy/Mozilla militia whilst firmly planted in Uncle Herbs basement waiting, as always, for Aunt Ellen's cackle of "grilled cheese and diet root beer boys...come and get it!" But since it seems to help your self-esteem, I'm quite sure Joel Goldberg can handle it- when you have a job and car payments and responsibilities (and if you're not a sociopath) you soon realize that most of us are just trying to do our jobs, pay our bills and get by. Being attacked on the Mozilla review board is less like getting mugged, and more like getting mugged by my Autistic cousin...
This isn't an add-on or a site that interests me personally but the author of the add-on seems pretty upfront on the elevated download count issue. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt so I'll take him at his word. The rating system on this site is pretty broken. Truthfully a lot of stuff on this site are pretty broken so it's feasible. I love Mozilla but they could really make some improvements especially when it comes to searching and filtering add-ons.
This is the first mozilla plug-in I've written, and I honestly don't know why the d/l count is so high. I work for the company that owns 43 Things and I'd never do something to deliberately cast ourselves in a bad light. I'm trying to figure out why the d/l count is inflated. I opened a topic in the developers forum and I'm hoping for an answer: https://forums.addons.mozilla.org/viewtopic.php?t=357