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Are you sure that you can completely trust one of the Internet’s most popular resources in online security? Web of Trust is a website that comes advertised as a full-featured browser plugin or extension Browse Safely In Chrome With Web Of Trust Browse Safely In Chrome With Web Of Trust Web of Trust, or short WOT, is a community-driven service that can help you figure out which websites to trust. WOT is available as add-on for Chrome and other browsers. It indicates website and URL... Read More to assist you in immediately judging the trustworthiness of a website One Small Tip That Can Help You Judge The Trustworthiness Of A Website One Small Tip That Can Help You Judge The Trustworthiness Of A Website In this post, I'd like to show you one of the easiest and most effective ways for the average internet user to make their own call on the legitimacy of a website. The best part... Read More . It’s something that we’ve covered time and time again here at MakeUseOf, and it’s even made it to our list of best websites on the Internet. Many of us know it as one of the most useful resources in web security 3 Best Resources To Find Sites That Are Known To Have Spyware & Viruses 3 Best Resources To Find Sites That Are Known To Have Spyware & Viruses Read More , and I personally know that a good portion of our MakeUseOf staff are big fans of it.

In short, Web of Trust takes the ratings and opinions of millions of people on the Internet and score websites based on how they fare with the WOT community. Web of Trust scores a website based on criteria like trustworthiness, reliability, privacy, and safety. Again, these scores aren’t determined by Internet security experts Stay Safe Online: Follow 10 Computer Security Experts On Twitter Stay Safe Online: Follow 10 Computer Security Experts On Twitter There are simple steps you can take to protect yourself online. Using a firewall and antivirus software, creating secure passwords, not leaving your devices unattended; these are all absolute musts. Beyond that it comes down... Read More . They’re generated by normal people like you and I. Sounds like it can be a system vulnerable to manipulation and improper use? You’re absolutely right! While Web of Trust serves its purpose for millions of users, there are a few common instances where you’ve got to scratch your head and second-guess a scorecard. In this post, let’s look into the type of websites this seems to most commonly occur with.

Online Marketplaces & Classifieds

This is a sticky situation for Web of Trust, and it first became obvious to me when one of our editors brought it to my attention in a previous post of mine that showed off Fiverr alternatives 4 Alternatives To Fiverr Where You Can Buy & Sell Services Online 4 Alternatives To Fiverr Where You Can Buy & Sell Services Online Every few months, a web application or a particularly unique idea hits the Internet and captures the attention of everyone. From that, a waterfall of copycats and alternatives pour in. Fiverr is in that same... Read More .

Fourerr Score

Shown above is the WOT scorecard for one of the Internet’s most reliable Fiverr competitors, Fourerr. As you can clearly see, they are far from favorable. In comparison, Fiverr Fiverr - A $5 Marketplace For Anyone Looking For A Service Fiverr - A $5 Marketplace For Anyone Looking For A Service Imagine you’ve got a photo of yourself or a friend which you really like, but you know it could be made perfect with just a little Photoshop magic. What you really need is a friend... Read More itself has not a single mark below 75 on the scale. Being an alternative to Fiverr, it’s quite expected that a site like Fourerr may not be scored as high as the website it attempts to imitate, but why is Fourerr scored so poorly? Let’s take a glance at the comments section.

Fourerr Comments

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Based on what you see above, it’s clear why this website is being rated so poorly. WOT users are using the Fourerr marketplace, buying services from providers that are either unreliable or not up to their standards, and then punishing the entire website for it. Think about that for a moment.

In comparison, Craigslist’s lowest mark is a 77 in the Child Safety category. Everything else is scored at 86 or above. However, we all know about the scams that pollute Craigslist Taking The Battle To Craigslist Scammers: How To Avoid Scams On Craigslist Taking The Battle To Craigslist Scammers: How To Avoid Scams On Craigslist Launched way back in 1995, Craigslist took the Internet world by storm with its innovative cross of classified ads with the web. But as with all Internet-based transactions, some users prefer to game the system... Read More . Spammers pound the site with affiliate links and advertisements. People sell broken and stolen goods. Craigslist has even been used in the middle of some disgusting and unfortunate crimes. While it is up to Craigslist to dedicate resources to eliminating spam and other more obvious content, it’s not Craigslist’s fault if someone sells you a broken PlayStation 2.

WOT users are punishing websites that offer a perfect platform to buy and sell goods on because they make the mistake of buying from the wrong people. It’s not entirely fair to WOT or the website itself.

Opinions, Bias, Free Speech, etc.

It is not on Web of Trust users to determine what is “good” for us to read or not. To better investigate such a case, let’s actually look into a blog that completely criticizes Web of Trust.

WOTLies Score

Admittedly, I’ve only read through parts of this blog. I don’t necessarily endorse or even agree with anything that I’ve read, either. This entire website is filled with rants regarding the service that Web of Trust provides, and the author outlines multiple incidents that they’ve experienced when using the service that comes across to them as untrustworthy or abusive.

WOTLies

Despite the written content on this website being true or not, it shouldn’t affect the website’s Trustworthiness score on Web of Trust. What should affect the Trustworthiness score is if the website tries to deceive and manipulate you into spending money for something that you’ll never receive, or for being a security risk. Why would this website score a 40 in Child Safety Keeping Children Safe In An Online World: 8 Ways To Set Up Kid-Friendly Search Keeping Children Safe In An Online World: 8 Ways To Set Up Kid-Friendly Search The Internet can be a dirty place and you have to take steps to stay safe online, but it can also be a wonderful world where kids can let their creativity and imagination run free.... Read More ? The reason is because people are letting their emotions get in the way of judging the website fairly.

WOTLies Comments

As you can see, comments above have marked the website as useless, having ethical issues, and including hateful or questionable content. Speaking from an unbiased point of view, these are simply not true. Maybe you don’t agree with the text content of a website, but the job of WOT users is not exactly to police us from reading things that they don’t personally agree with. The job is to keep us safe.

Conclusion

Web of Trust is not the law of the land. You have to take it for what it’s worth, and you must understand that human error is part of the equation. The plain truth is that your website can suffer from a poor scorecard on WOT simply because a majority of people aren’t supportive of the content on your website. That is a complete misuse of the service, but it’s fortunate that this happens only in a small percentage of cases.

If we were to judge Web of Trust overall based on how only a small portion of Web of Trust users misuse the service, that’d be no different than judging a marketplace for having a few poor sellers (like in our first example). Web of Trust gives you the opportunity to make a difference and change the way we protect each other when surfing online, and it’s an awesome service because of that.

What are your opinions on users taking advantage of Web of Trust? Do you know any other examples that weren’t mentioned in this post? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

  1. Mark
    April 7, 2016 at 6:59 am

    It's 2016 and WOT is in a state of almost complete meltdown. Thanks (belatedly) for the prescient article.

    • Host4dummies
      July 4, 2016 at 2:15 am

      Out of control. Many webmasters are reporting of unfair reviews.

  2. Filthy Pazuzu
    February 19, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I Googled "how trustworthy is the web of trust?" to help dispel a client's beliefs about the WOT, and (thankfully) this classic article was the second result! This 2.5-year-old gem ranks 2nd for the best reasons: it simply examines how & why WOT ratings get skewed. No grudge on the author's behalf, just analysis of WOT's flaws.

    The idea behind WOT was an excellent one - a decade ago. I was an avid participant way, way, way back in the day, but it's geocities-era tech now. It's too blunt & easily manipulated to be fair, and too slow-to-react to be useful. But worst of all it instills a dangerous and completely baseless illusion of security.

    The web is far too sophisticated - and people far too biased - for WOT. It'll let you know what random, unknown people feel about a site. From a technical standpoint, that's exactly as useful as it sounds. Do you know how much money is in the online-reputation-destruction industry? Did you even know there is one? There is. It's big. WOT is one of its tools.

    These days you need solid techniques and even more solid data if you want robust privacy and security: stateful third-party beacon detection, cross-site traffic pattern analysis, and *meticulously* curated blacklists. Highly proficient and customizable add-ons like uBlock Origin and Ghostery are two great examples that complement each other very well, although there are others, of course, and like everything in life, neither are perfect. But I know straight from the mouths of professional data hounds how difficult such tools make their lives, as do duckduckgo and Disconnect.me. Just say "Tor and Tails" and they get mad. And Qubes? Muahaha...

    And - forgive my shouting here - but EVERYONE should be using HTTPS-Everywhere from EFF until EVERY web server & EVERY browser encrypts ALL traffic BY DEFAULT. (I can't frikkin' believe I still need to say this in 2016. Hey admins, Let's Encrypt is in public beta. There is officially NO EXCUSE.)

    BTW: I am affiliated with nobody nor nothing about which I've written here, I'm actually an incredibly broke IT freelancer in NJ. ("Freelancer" is usually IT-speak for "currently unemployed.")

    But if you appreciate digital privacy, or do NOT appreciate being spied upon by neighbors/criminals/marketers/governments - I urge you to support the Electronic Frontier Foundation, makers of HTTPS-Everywhere. Either way, use it. Oh, and VOTE OUT EVERY DATA MINING SUPPORTER.

  3. Rob Cubbon
    November 17, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I have serious problem as I put my site up for review on the forum (DON'T do that if you have no problem with WOT – I had a neutral rating before that but I wanted to get to understand WOT for a Facebook group I was helping out).

    4 of their mods down-voted my site because they don't like that I have free and paid online business information about how I make $5k a month in passive income. I proved to them that I do this and that the course is not a get rich quick one but rather about growing a long-term business asset and brand.

    In this case the Web of Trust did not protect people from dangerous sites but rather seems to have a forum with a lot of anonymous narrow-minded keyboard-warriors who want to censor the web to say the things they want the web to say – anti- "make money online" (although that's not what I do, I have 17 products mostly about web design) and anti- self-help, personal development and anti-alternative health sites.

    This is censorship on the web. One person's opinion over the majority.

    Can I have an intelligent debate with someone at WOT about this?

    What can I do about this?

    My site was labeled as one that scams people out of money. I'm one of the most successful online instructors on Udemy the market leading online learning site. I have 65,000 students who have taken my course would disagree with you and they have voluntarily posted over 700 positive reviews. This is the community's opinion.

    Of course I could get everyone in my community (I have an email list of 13,000+) to down-vote their comments and up-vote my site but I don't really want to retaliate like that. And, to be honest, I'd never heard of the WOT before a few days ago and I don't think anyone else has.

    I'm happy to talk to anyone about this. But the WOT seems to be not transparent and I don't know what I can do. I would also like to help anyone whose reputation has been harmed by the WOT because they could hurt a lot of small businesses. I can help because my business will be OK because I've built up a lot of trust in the last 10 years.

  4. Martin
    March 31, 2015 at 4:20 am

    The WOT ratings for natural health websites are, almost without exception, poor. The usual hysterical, unbalanced responses from members of the medical establishment and those with Big Pharma connections go out of their way to condemn such websites, no matter how well run or how well intentioned they may be, for reasons that have little or nothing to do with the original objectives of WOT. Alternative medicine is a valid interest for many, particularly those who have been poorly served by the medical establishment, and WOT should not allow ratings to be corrupted by what are, quite simply, views arising principally from prejudice and self interest.

    • h773481
      October 10, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      I do not see the Issue. They are voting scam sites untrustworthy, unreliable and generally not safe. Just because the website itself is not malicious doesn't mean the practice and vendors it promotes are not. In which case such votes are completely fair. There are plenty of reasons not to trust alternative medicine and not have anything to do with Big Pharma or the medical field in general.

  5. YB
    March 23, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I said it once and I will say it again! The best security is the one sitting between the monitor and chair. It all starts with YOU! Well, you and a little commonsense.

  6. YB
    March 23, 2015 at 10:41 am

    I said it once and I will say it again! The best security is the one sitting between the monitor and chair. It all starts with YOU! Well, you and a little commonsense.

  7. Michael G.
    March 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Just to make the List complete. I own 2 sites that where hijacked in the past and used for spamming /trojans,.... This is fixed an there are no problems with the sites for years. Since over a year I actively try to get rid of the bad reputation earned in the past. The problem no one in WOT cares. So once rated bad ever rated bad. The only users who response are some *#+&& that only post a link to totalvirus.com and point out that still 2 out of 62 sites rate my site as malicious. In fact it seems to me the only way to get a good reputation at the current time is to host an Russian site.

  8. Caroline W
    November 16, 2013 at 6:21 am

    I've used WOT for a very long time and have seen the negative comments of good websites and reciprocated with a good score. However, when I see a red warning on a Google search, even an image search, I tend to stay well away from it. But, as the article and comments point out, it seems that WOT's scores can be misleading.

    What I started seeing as odd was my internet security deeming a site as a 'safe-website' and then a big red warning from WOT saying otherwise. Because I am so used to it I think I'll have to mull over what you've writeen Craig along with every commenters view on it.

  9. Kevin Fields
    September 23, 2013 at 3:22 am

    A year or two ago I tried WOT for a week, and like others here, I stopped using it because of too many false reports on websites being unsafe, because users are misusing or abusing the rating tools. I do blame WOT directly for this, because their reputation is being ruined by bad apples. If they're not going to take the time to remove what are clearly bad reviews, then why should I place any trust in it at all? I'm better off using my own intuition.

  10. Thierry
    September 6, 2013 at 11:24 am

    All my family use Mywot. It is true that sometimes, the ratings are not that very good, I also notices that most SEO site are badly rated. (speaking about french seo sites).
    Instruction to my teenagers : never ever surf on a red rated site. Ask me when it is yellow. I also us qustodio on top of mywot so I am almost sure that nothing bad is going to happen.
    You may also test webutation and also install the avast extension.

  11. Dennis
    September 5, 2013 at 1:45 am

    I find WOT totally unreliable. Why is this because sites are given a fail not because of security reasons but because of political. Take gun site most have bad WOT scores, does that mean it is unsafe no. So what is the problem with it? The problem is the people who want to ban guns write more negative reviews then those who do not want guns banned. Second and last Christian Institute deals with creation and that has the entire evolutionist gunning for it and so it gets a bad review. (You should see the BS response the Christian Institute got from WOT). With those just to sites how many more a getting negative reviews and making a site unsafe when there is no security threat. I avoid WOT know because I do not want to spend hours reading the reviews to find out it is based on political motive or something else.

  12. Scott B
    September 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    http://www.siteadvisor.com might be worth a try....

  13. TomHatesMS
    September 3, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    WOT is useless at best and really annoying most of the time. I tried it for a few weeks and poor ratings for web sites were much too often a result of stupid or biased users. Well, I guess people have to make up their own minds to judge a web site. WOT is no help at all. I removed WOT and will definitely not use it again.

  14. dragonmouth
    September 1, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    "Are you sure that you can completely trust one of the Internet’s most popular resources in online security?"

    I can trust WOT as much as I can trust MUO or any other opinion site. Any site on the 'Net can and probably is gamed. I would not be surprised that there is some kind of hanky-panky going on at grc.com.

  15. FKlein
    September 1, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Understandably, it's the users misusing the WOT. However, doesn't WOT have some degree of culpability? Maybe cautionary notices... maybe even reviewing complaints etc...?

    • Daniel
      January 25, 2014 at 8:06 am

      WOT have some degree of culpability? Not according to them....

  16. Scott
    September 1, 2013 at 11:07 am

    So, one can trust WOT in general when their ratings for a site are light-to-dark green, since that means lots of people are using that site with little or no issues.

    But when sites are rating yellow to red, one should be more wary of accepting those results because it could just as easily be due WOT users misunderstanding *what* is to be rated down or even intentional reputation sabotage.

  17. Lisa O
    August 31, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    I don't use WOT. If I find suspicious link, I'll refrain from visiting. As simple as that.

    • Craig S
      September 8, 2013 at 11:14 pm

      I have to agree with this approach. It's similar to my decision not to bog myself down with an antivirus on top of an antimalware on top of a firewall, etc. I am confident enough to navigate the internet by myself.

  18. Paul Parkinson
    August 31, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    Is there a better alternative though? If so, what?

    • Brandon R
      September 1, 2013 at 4:37 am

      I don't know if you would consider it better but there are alternatives such as site advisers from antivirus companies such as AVG and Avast where when u search for something it has an icon by each link in the search results indicating weather the website is safe or not

    • dragonmouth
      September 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      And how is that any better than WOT? AVG and Avast can hardly be considered impartial.

  19. Isaac J. Harris
    August 31, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    The worst thing about WOT is how people abuse it. As you say, they rate stuff poorly just because they don't want people to see it. This renders it not quite worthless, but not nearly as useful as it could be.

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