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Can we rely on WOT's ratings system?

64 replies to this topic

#11 marko

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    Posted 14 December 2011 - 03:44 PM

    I think the underlying issue is simply as you and Jim have both said Claw, we need to see the reasons why people are rating a website negatively, and quite possibly positively too - without a reason there is very little sustenance to the ratings systems and while many, including myself, will openly use the comments section to validate my ratings, it appears that some will just simply rate a website without giving any reason at all. If my memory serves me correctly, I've actually posted on more than one rating asking why it was rated negatively as I could find nothing wrong at all with the site in question - similarly, I've rated and commented on poor sites which were previously rated good by WOT users when I found an issue with them - it's the entire "comments" system that needs to be addressed.

    As of yet, no-one from WOT has become involved in the discussion over at WOT or here, but I'm still hopeful a member of staff may feel they can do the service some good by intervening and shedding at least some hope for validating ratings in the near future :)

    #12 Claw

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      Posted 14 December 2011 - 04:00 PM

      The word "WHY",,is a simple little word you've said since you were able to talk. It is probably the most simple and most asked question known.
      When it comes to rating a site one way or the other,,we just want to know "WHY"? It's that simple!!!!

      #13 Claw

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        Posted 14 December 2011 - 08:52 PM

        "as I say to our members, we shouldn't place all out trust in site advisory services but the same could be said for WOT, they shouldn't place all their trust in their users - something I fear they are doing and like other site advisory services, it may not be too long before they see the backlash :("

        Those Marko are your words,,,You summed up the whole thing in a nutshell!!!! As an average user, all I read was a lot of skirting around the issue at hand. You don't have to turn around to know this member is right behind you!!!! What I got out of it was a lot of run around and still no answer.
        You work hard making this site safe and the best it can be. BRAVO !!!! Maybe others should take a clue from you ,,and try to do the same,,and they can start by addressing the issues and cares of the users.!!!!

        #14 marko

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          Posted 14 December 2011 - 11:48 PM

          Things just seem to be going from bad to worse over on the WOT forum, and in the absence of any representation from WOT themselves, I've just sent off a mail to their press office inviting them to become involved in a topic which we'll create inviting members questions and should they accept I'll post further details of this at that time, but for now I think it's time to step out of the WOT discussion on their forum as it's pretty obvious the answers sought won't be coming any time soon from that arena !!

          #15 Claw

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            Posted 15 December 2011 - 12:18 AM

            You got it boss,,just one thing! That last guy who posted on the WOT forum about supposedly helping and earning trust and respect,,,,sure sounds familiar!!!! ;)

            #16 James (Jim) Hillier

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              Posted 15 December 2011 - 01:22 AM

              Marko, I hate to say I told you so me old china plate but I did comment earlier.."you are dealing with a bunch of people who are very closed-minded and not really interested in listening to any criticisms - pretty much a waste of time and effort mate." :)


              we need to see the reasons why people are rating a website negatively...without a reason there is very little sustenance to the ratings systems

              Exactly!! Couldn't have put it better myself mate. :good: The ratings may not necessarily be incorrect but without any accompanying explanation or validation, they carry very little weight.
              Jim Hillier - Managing editor Daves Computer Tips.com

              #17 Claw

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                Posted 15 December 2011 - 02:11 AM

                Hey Sir Jim, I checked in on the WOT forum and they are getting so defensive and rude ("tact and diplomacy are not amoungst my finer points") that their Moderator is telling them to keep it friendly or DO NOT POST!!!! There's no need for that kind of behavior in a forum,!!!!!!!!,,(,but just say the word and well,,,I lost my tact about 35yrs. ago)!!!! Lol!!!! We were even insulted for the way we speak!!!! :ireful: Lol!!!

                #18 BobJam

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                  Posted 15 December 2011 - 06:39 AM


                  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.)

                  #19 marko

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                    Posted 15 December 2011 - 08:26 AM

                    WOW, that's a read and a half BobJam and whilst you raise some valid points and more or less encapsulate the entire definition of WOT there is one particular point in your post I'd like to reply to, and that is the "trust" part. I've mentioned it over at WOT and here also, many times actually, and it really boils down to most of what you say above, do we trust WOT ratings?. Well, generally, yes I reckon most of us do but probably not with our lives. If we take this fact, and pause for a moment, we can almost begin to appreciate that WOT most certainly does a good job, like every other site advisory service there will be some users who will vote for the sakes of voting without any real purpose or simply because they just don't appreciate a particular view of the website or the reverse could be said, some will attempt to inflate a site's ratings without justification or real meaning.

                    As for us being clearly biased against WOT, I must say if we've gave that impression then I'm really not sure how we have done so - FreewareBB are official friends of WOT and I've constantly referred to WOT ratings throughout the entire site when dealing with unscrupulous developers. We will question anything we feel could be done better, and that goes for our own site and services too - questioning and examining something is a world apart from actually disliking it, and from a personal opinion I can honestly say I do not dislike WOT at all, but I will question it if I feel something isn't right or could be done better.

                    It's like some people may not necessarily appreciate some aspects of FreewareBB, yet would continue to download from us because they know we try harder than anyone else to offer a safe download experience. It's not that they dislike the site or service, maybe they just disagree with some parts of the site yet find our overall morals commendable, in the same sense we (or at least I) feel much the same way about WOT.

                    At the end of the day, services like WOT will always be open to criticism, it's the nature of the beast, it doesn't necessarily mean people don't like it or won't use it, it just means (like me) there is a question mark over some part of the site such as rating a site without commenting on it. It's really not as big an issue as has been made on the WOT forum, but often is the case defensive attitudes will attribute to more debate and questions and as has been shown over at WOT when it gets to that stage it's time to call it a day and leave the discussion as I have done.

                    Rationally speaking, the attitudes and views of the few on the WOT thread don't obviously account for the majority of users, like mine, their views are personal and although they may have the edge on the WOT forums through their own experiences, I'm not sure or not whether this quantifies them as experts. Likewise, I'd never claim to be such either, not on the subject of WOT anyway!!.

                    At the end of the day, these guys can't reliably answer for WOT and the original point of my post was to ask for clarification on the WOT system - I pretty much got that with an endless amount of links to WOT's FAQ but it still didn't answer the question of why can't comments be anonymous like the ratings. We did hear that most would use it for simply posting comments like "good site" or "bad site" which is fair enough, but as I said in the WOT thread, that happens already anyway - so surely by introducing the possibility to post anonymously we would only see more comments that could possibly justify a rating rather than the current situation where a lot of comments contradict the ratings!. Having said that, would an "anonymous" comment be any more trustworthy than no comment?. (oh god, I've started arguing with myself!)

                    Most would ask why would it be an issue to post a comment - well, some would rather stay anonymous because of a vested interest such as they may own a website and could become a target by competitors, or could begin to be "nobbled" by others ... something which personally doesn't worry me as I've posted countless comments and ratings on bad developers.

                    I'll end this post by thanking everyone for taking the time to respond, it really does make for interesting reading and I have managed to get in touch with the CEO for WOT who has agreed provisionally to answer any questions our members wish to throw at them, so I'll be setting up another thread shortly and opening it up for anyone to post a question which will be passed on to those guys, stay tuned :) :good:

                    #20 James (Jim) Hillier

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                      Posted 15 December 2011 - 09:08 PM

                      Anti WOT? Dislike WOT? Deary me, whatever gave you that idea BobJam? We do not dislike WOT, if it seems we are picking on WOT that is only because WOT is the service we favor and have grown to rely on.

                      To be honest I couldn't be bothered absorbing all your long response, I did speed read through it though. Seems to me you missed the main focus completely, so let me ask this one simple question: When WOT rates a site negatively that is a slur, an accusation that the owners/administrators behavior is unethical or dishonest, and interacting with the site involves a degree of risk. If that rating is not accurate then WOT is needlessly damaging that site's reputation. Do you not think, that in the interests of fair play and equity, the negative ratings should be accompanied by some sort of substantiating evidence?

                      That is simply acceptable behavior, in a civilized society if you make accusations or cast aspersions you are expected to offer some sort of proof - otherwise it is mere conjecture and, as such, unreliable.

                      From my point of view: it is not enough to merely 'trust WOT'. No system is infallible, WOT included, and the absence of proof leaves a huge doubt - I want to know why a site has been rated that way. Do you not think it would be in everyone's best interests to validate negative ratings via some sort a clear explanation?
                      Jim Hillier - Managing editor Daves Computer Tips.com

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