What’s WOT?

Web of TrustWeb Link is a community-based surfing tool that uses a peer-based rating system. The rating system is implemented as a browser add-on and the add-on is available in a number of languages for both Internet Explorer and Firefox. When you browse to a website rated poorly, WOT will put up a warning page where you can then decide if you wish to proceed or not.

WOT Warning

When registered WOT users browse to various websites they have the ability of rating that website based on trust, reliability, privacy and child safety. The rating is a sliding color scale from red (bad) to green (good) with various colors between.

WOT Rating

Ideally, ratings reflect the true nature of the website being rated. Practically, however, they sometimes do not and this can lead to some mis-information. Note: Overall WOT is a good thing with mostly good ratings. The ratings can, however, be influenced in a negative direction undeservedly. Various factors enter into play here. Among them can be…

  1. Users will often not bother to rate a website if they think it is good. They visit a site and get busy doing what they are doing at the site and just ignore the WOT rating. This would tend to bias the ratings toward the negative for a site with few ratings. The more ratings there are, the more likely the rating is closer to accurate for any given site but even that is not necessarily sufficient.
  2. Vendors like to get any advantage they can. This means that one vendor can go to a competitor’s site and give a less than good rating to that site. If that vendor can get enough people to do likewise then this skews the ratings. Of course, the reverse is also true, a vendor can skew ratings to the positive for themselves using similar methods.

WOT says: “WOT tracks each user’s rating behavior before deciding how much it trusts the user….You must prove yourself before we take you seriously. The system will ignore all ratings created by a user attempting to manipulate the reputation data.” This would be an attempt to guard against the problems above. No matter how sophisticated the algorithm for deciding how much to trust a rater, problems can still arise so the ratings should be taken as a guide and not absolute. Comments are allowed so if there is doubt go to the WOT rating page and read some of them. Note that WOT even provides a method for raters to disagree with the comments so also pay attention to the number at the end of each comment to see how many have disagreed with the rating.

As one example, I’d like to take the site liutilities.com. Please note that in the interest of full disclosure this site provides software advertised on CKnow.com. I’ve used this software for some time and find it useful. The Windows registry does collect a bunch of junk that should be cleaned out now and again. Registry Booster does this well. Why mention this? Because sales pages on their website are fairly aggressive. They offer a free scan and since the Windows registry collects junk almost daily the scan is going to show various errors. Any registry scanner will give this result. The problem is that people will read “free scan” as meaning “free scan and fix” and that’s where the problem comes in. Words mean things and a scan is just that, a scan with NO promise to fix anything. For this reason, WOT users will often give sites like this a bad rating for mis-advertising when, in fact, the problem is not the site but the user not reading the site correctly. If you want to read more about this, please see the CKnow page How Do I Read an Internet Product Page. For now, let’s just look at how two rating services look at the liutilities.com site.

Liutilities.com at WOT

Here is the rating at WOT on the day of posting this entry [9/4/2009]…

WOT Rating Example

Note that it’s red for just the reasons above. People mis-read the product page for the most part. As I said, I’ve personally used the software for some time now and find it both accurate and useful.

Liutilities.com at McAfee Site Advisor

The McAfee Site AdvisorWeb Link site is a professionally-run site with ratings based on actual examination of websites by trained staff members. User ratings are taken into account but each rated site is examined in detail, even to the point of downloading and testing any software offered by the site. Look at the difference in their rating…

McAfee Rating

Note that it’s green and that all software on the site tests malware-free. While they are below the capture point, all the links on the site also point to green sites. In short, a completely opposite result from the WOT rating.

Bottom Line

Rating sites like WOT can be helpful but they can be misleading if followed blindly. Sometimes it’s good to get a second opinion.

[Comments from original 9/4/2009 post]

Said this on 2010-02-02 At 12:50 pm
WOT is a very good complement for firefox, I recommend.

Said this on 2010-07-27 At 03:56 am
Web of Trust (WOT), is amazing tools for fir fox.

Said this on 2010-11-11 At 02:52 am
WOT is a scam. Competitors as well as the WOT users blackmail the webmasters by giving negative comments. It’s so easy to manipulate the rankings….this crappy service must be banned.

[It would be nice if they had better means of detecting gaming of the system. Not sure about banning but some changes would help their credibility a lot. –DaBoss]

Said this on 2011-09-18 At 06:22 pm
I find WOT helpful and I believe it has stopped me from visiting a few really awful locations. But it must be taken with a grain of salt. Think why people might rate a site badly if they are angry with that company. Also if a person has enemies they can give bad and unfounded ratings. It’s like reading ratings on anything else. Then there are those with more nefarious intent. When in doubt I read the ratings to see if there is any foundation.

Anthony Sassienie
Said this on 2011-11-07 At 04:54 pm
After spending weeks completing my new website, suddenly the WOT rating turned to orange.

I have become a victim by using a sub domain.

The reputation of each subdomain contributes to the parent domain’s reputation. If a domain has lots of untrustworthy subdomains, its reputation will suffer, and, therefore, the reputation of any new subdomains will suffer as well.

I believe WOT should be discontinued. It`s unfair and has the ability to destroy a website`s reputation for no good reason. It`s like being accused of a crime with no trial.

Said this on 2011-11-09 At 02:02 am
In reply to #6
I don’t think that is the real reason, they (WOT) use this scheme to force you the site owner to pay for a trust shield that costs 500 dollars a year. Facebook is the most dangerous site and it is blacklisted yet has excellent score by WOT , reason ? Facebook paid them to give it a good score. How much money ? probably millions .

The small site owners who go get rated at WOT should expect this to happen.
You have all green excellent
They offer a trust shield for one free month.
They rate your site bad and the shield changes to reflect the poor ratings
They write to let you know that until your ratings go up your site can’t be trusted, but offer to sell you a shield for 500 dollars a year.
This scam is capable of hurting many good sites and business that is why they have a class action suit against them .

This is a huge scam, stay away from this add on it is spyware. They are collecting user info to later sell as an asset when the jig is up.

[Sure would be nice if people who ranted like this would actually provide some PROOF before putting finger to keyboard. I probably won’t approve any more no-proof junk like this in the future; just leaving this one as an example of what not to post. Disliking WOT is certainly OK; just make certain that the dislike is not laced with junk that you can’t prove. –DaBoss]