On the WOT forum ( http://www.mywot.com/en/forum/18570-conflicting-wot-reports-and-confusing-results
), Marko said: "if anyone with in-depth experience on how the WOT system works is able to spare some time to offer an explanation and become involved in the discussion above then I'd really appreciate your time and experience".
Well, without tooting my own horn, I'll step up to the plate and offer an OPINION here in response to Marko's invite (I will not post on the WOT forum because in order to do so I'd have to start an account on WOT again, and I don't wish to do that . . . and I suspect one of my old friends on WOT may post a link to this post in that WOT thread anyway). My opinion here is in response to the items posted HERE, not on WOT, though the issues are essentially the same.
This is going to be lengthy, so stay with me on this if you're interested in the perspective of one who was a member of WOT from 2008 to 2011, voted "Top Member" for 2008, 2009, and 2010 (that would be the "without tooting my own horn" part . . . I only mention it because it speaks to my knowledge of how WOT works), and also gleaned a "Scambuster award" for one of those years.
I am a FORMER member of WOT, having left for reasons NOT pertinent to this discussion . . . suffice it to say I am NOT a fan of WOT. The reason I left is TOTALLY UNRELATED to issues discussed here, and I don't wish to bash WOT publicly (so don't ask). If you see some of my posts on WOT during those years I was active, you will now see "(not verified)" beside my screen name ("BobJam") because that is how a screen name is reflected when one deletes their account.
However, even though I am NOT a WOT fan, as I said . . . in good faith I feel compelled to point out what I think are some flaws in the reasoning developed here. Specifically, the comparison with SA and brethren, and also the notion that WOT ratings are "innaccurate", "incorrect", or "misleading".
Now I titled this post "Balance?" That's because I think that if someone who is NOT a WOT fan (that would be me) "defends" WOT, that gives a pretty credible picture.
Let's take the comparison with SA and brethren first. You CANNOT compare WOT to ANY other site advisory service because the others are based on different criteria (which an experienced rater in that WOT thread has pointed out clearly.)
The OP here states, in part, "WOT rates the site negatively, it is the only one in seven which does - all the others give the site a Green rating." The comparison is flawed right out of the gate.
WOT's criteria, MUCH more comprehensive than just "safety" (which typically has come to mean the presence or absence of malware) is . . . TRUSTWORTHINESS. The "safety" issue is a COMPONENT of trustworthiness, but NOT the only issue that is evaluated. TRUSTWORTHINESS is more than just an evaluation of the presence or absence of malware . . . it's also an evaluation of what the WOT rater thinks about the CONTENT.
Let me use two examples here.
First is an MLM ("Multi-level marketing", AKA "pyramid scheme") site. Most of those sites do not harbor malware, simply because they don't want to be downrated by those other services for the presence of malware . . . thereby securing visitors and "candidates" that take SA and brethren as "gospel".
SA would rate the site green because it's criteria is "safety", i.e. the presence or absence of malware.
WOT, OTOH would rate the site red because it is a scam and not trustworthy.
So there you have what would seem like a contradiction to someone who does not know how WOT works.
Is SA right? YES, when considered that the SA criteria is "safety".
Does that make WOT wrong? NO, because the WOT criteria is . . . TRUSTWORTHINESS, which encompasses not only safety but is also an evaluation on whether or not the CONTENT can be trusted.
So SA shows green and WOT would show red on most MLM sites. A contradiction? No. Both, according to the criteria they use, are correct.
Now secondly, let's take some Canadian pharmaceutical sites. A lot of them (most, if not all) are illegal for use in the US because they "import" controlled substances without FDA approval (arguments about "Big Pharma" notwithstanding). Their prices are generally cheaper than what you would get here in the US consequently they appeal to a lot of seniors on fixed incomes, but there is also a health issue.
The reason the FDA hasn't approved of most of them is because the FDA cannot verify where the drugs originated, nor do the drugs fall under the scrutiny of US inspection for quality and ingredient concentration. You could be getting a placebo, or worse something like arsenic, for all you know, and it could be from unlicensed places in who-knows-where.
And one of the more health-threatening aspects is that some of these pharmacies advertise and peddle their drugs WITHOUT a Doctor's having examined the patient. IOW, they will sell you V-I-A-G-R-A, regardless of whether you are on nitrates or have high blood pressure . . . their "in-house doctor" will write you a prescription without having examined you or taken your history.
Suffice it to say, there are a number of reasons not to trust these people.
However, most of these scam pharmacy sites do not, like MLM sites, host malware.
So, SA would show them as green, and it would be RIGHT in the context of it's criteria.
But WOT might show them as red, in which case it would ALSO be right in the context of it's criteria . . . TRUSTWORTHINESS.
Now let's move on to the notion of WOT ratings being "inaccurate", "incorrect", or "misleading". Some more flawed reasoning.
I think the moon is beautiful. Others think it is ugly.
Am I right, and others are wrong? Of course not. Are others right and I am wrong? Of course not.
Why? Because these are opinions and by definition opinions are neither right nor wrong.
Screwy, obnoxious, crazy, or weird perhaps, and you may disagree with it, but there's not really a "right" or "wrong", an "inaccurate", "incorrect", or "misleading" to it. WOT ratings ARE opinions.
Which leads me to the much larger issue of comments and whether or not you "trust" WOT.
WOT, just like SA, NSW, etc., is, as was said in the OP . . . ADVISORY. NOT a certainty, and definitely not "gospel". There is no such thing as 100% security, unless you encase your machine in concrete and never get on the Internet.
And if you're using WOT as an antivirus, you're headed for trouble. (And even antivirus programs give FP's and I haven't seen one yet that tests 100% on detection.) WOT does NOT prevent infections. It simply gives guidance, like all the other "advisory" schemes. At the end of the day, the user is the one responsible for what security tools they use and how they use them. But of course, it's human nature to blame anyone or anything other than yourself ("WOT/SA/NSW said it was green, so it's their fault I got infected.")
Can WOT be wrong? Of course it can and so also can SA, NSW, etc. be wrong.
(BTW, the "appeal" process for SA and brethren involves sending them an email, asking to be re-rated, waiting for an automated response . . . which can be frustrating and time-consuming with replies and such . . . and then SA has to decide whether or not they want to task their crawlers to go back out and re-evaluate the site . . . a process that can take well over a year and often does. A WOT "appeal", OTOH, involves simply asking for a re-evaluation on the WOT forum . . . there's a dedicated forum for that . . . and these re-evaluations are generally done within 24 hours or less. Sometimes mistakes are corrected, and other times webmasters are not too thrilled with the results of a re-evaluation . . . more than once I've seen site-owners shoot themselves in the foot.)
Do I trust WOT implicitly? No. (Though I still use it). But nor would I trust SA and such implicitly either. Anyone who trusts any of the site advisory services implicitly is on a slippery slope. They all are, within their rating criteria, a good heads-up though. If I see that a site is rated red, that's just an indication to me that if I really want to visit it, I need to do MY OWN due-diligence.
For the reverse situation (rated green but is red to me), take a look at the WOT Facebook scorecard ( http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/facebook.com
FB is rated solidly green. But the number of red comments is overwhelming. Nevertheless, the majority of WEIGHTED raters trust FB . . . and it's green, period.
Do I trust FB? NO! Did I rate it green? No!
IMO, social networking sites are havens for novices, thus are a target rich environment for malware writers. Novices are not noted for being security conscious.
All they want to do is take their new machine out of the box, plug it in, and go to FB because their friends said it was kewl. They could care less about security. Hence, malware writers have a warm nest.
I haven't looked, but I'm pretty sure SA and brethren have also rated FB green.
AFAIC, FB is red to me. I don't trust it at all, and I especially have privacy concerns. Are those that rated FB green "wrong"? I can't say that. Crazy and screwy perhaps, but wrong? They apparently see the moon differently than I do, and that's about as far as I can go evaluating an OPINION.
So do I disagree with some WOT ratings? Of course I do, but not too many.
As far as comments being "compulsory" on WOT? I can see both sides of the argument. In the WOT forum thread, Sami pointed to the FAQ (so I won't repeat it here), and it lists what I think are good reasons for not making comments compulsory.
OTOH, would it be nice to see the reasoning behind a rating? Yes, but I see why WOT doesn't want to do it.
A few more things and I'll be outa' here.
First, WOT is simply a platform that compiles user ratings . . . WOT itself DOES NOT do the ratings, users do.
Secondly, I've noticed that these two forums, WOT and FreewareBB, are sort of polarized. You guys are clearly biased AGAINST WOT, and the WOT guys are defensive. As an observer, it seems to me much like Firefox fanboys are posting on an IE forum, and IE fanboys are posting on a Firefox forum . . . each perpetuating the browser wars, both digging their heels in, with nothing productive coming out of it. It's almost like we need a neutral place to discuss this reasonably, as Marco's tone reflected in the WOT thread OP.
(BTW, Marko, I see by your avatar that you may be a Linux user. So am I . . . Ubuntu . . . while I don't want to bash WOT, I am fine with bashing the 500 pound gorilla . . . that would be Micro$oft . . . haven't read the TOS yet, so is that something you guys frown on or is there a forum where I can rant? Nahhh . . . I don't really want to bash MS, but as you may deduce I am not a Micro$oft fan. I also notice that you fellows have recently listed TeamViewer7. I used to use CrossLoop, but I just switched to TeamViewer . . . they have a Linux version so I don't have to go to my WindowsXP VM to use CrossLoop . . . I like TeamViewer much better than I did CrossLoop.)