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Can we rely on WOT's ratings system?


64 replies to this topic

#21 marko

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    Posted 15 December 2011 - 10:08 PM

    Jimbo, from what I've managed to gather from my dealings with WOT over the past couple of days it would appear that if a user decides to register with WOT then rate a website negatively, the chances are that rating isn't given any merit. In other words, yes, WOT take that rating and will display it but until others rate the site in a similar manner or the user becomes an established and trusted member, then as far as WOT are concerned they wouldn't necessarily issue or show any warnings for the site through their add-on.

    That said, it doesn't still take us away from the fact that when a member IS trusted they can then damage a site's reputation, or others who may have heard a member talking some sense in the forums would possibly support them by voting negatively for a site, but for me there is still a major negative and a major plus regarding WOT. The negative being that when someone, with or without any credibility rates a site negatively and doesn't leave a comment, it can be frustrating for those of us who can find nothing wrong with the site - we may then rate the site positively even if we don't know the site in defiance of a users negative rating and lack of supporting evidence, especially if we ourselves can find no evidence of malicious behavior or any other type of behavior we feel would warrant negative ratings . It could then turn out at a later date that there was something fundamentally wrong with that site and we've rated it positively. The situation could have been made much simpler if the user had placed a comment telling us what the issue was in the first place.

    The major positive with WOT is how easy it is for webmasters to raise their concerns regarding any negative ratings against their website, and WOT are usually pretty quick to respond. However, if 5 or 10 people rated a site negatively for no apparent reason, or at least declined to comment and give their reasons, then surely this would still leave WOT with the same problem as we're describing, even if the webmaster did complain about it on their forums how would WOT know if the webmaster has a genuine case if nobody has left a reason for their negative comments?.

    I've already asked the question of whether WOT feel it can sometimes be unfair for users to leave negative ratings without leaving a comment, though I guess I'll already know the answer to that one, maybe I should rephrase it using the last sentence above which may give us a better understanding of how WOT would work something like this out?!

    Please remember that we have people from many different timezones on the site and if your post requires a reply it could take longer at some at some points because of this.

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    #22 Claw

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      Posted 15 December 2011 - 10:12 PM

      STANDING OVATION,,, APPLAUSE !!!!

      #23 AlphaCentauri

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        Posted 15 December 2011 - 11:29 PM

        Hi, I'm one of the regulars at WOT, and I think BobJam has summarized the issues nicely.

        As far as requiring explanations for negative ratings, it would be nice except for the practical issue of scalability. There may be huge numbers of people submitting ratings for a site compared to those currently adding comments, and very few of them have anything to say that you'd really want to read. Shoot, some of you didn't even finish reading BobJam's one post ;) It will become even more of an issue as WOT grows. The few useful comments would be buried in pages of accurate but useless comments.

        Or consider what would happen if someone sent a spam to several million people spoofing your URL to bypass spam filters (as often happens to sites like Prevention Magazine's publisher, for instance). You wouldn't want hundreds of pages of negative comments from low-reliability members downrating your site. You certainly wouldn't want them burying your own comment explaining the situation. You would want any high-reputation people to explain themselves, so you could contact them to get their ratings corrected. And for the most part, the high-reputation people don't rate negatively without posting. The ones who don't leave comments usually don't carry much weight, either.

        And yes, the forum can be a pretty rough place at time. They have not yet struck the right balance between promoting free speech and moderating trolls. It's difficult when you're running a forum where scammers have to be allowed a chance to post to defend their sites. It's exacerbated when reasonable people get frustrated and drift away, as well as when people put too much faith in Google Translate and take offense where none was intended. It's a similar issue with NANAE, where the spammers and antispammers are in direct contact with no moderators at all.

        Edited by AlphaCentauri, 15 December 2011 - 11:31 PM.


        #24 marko

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          Posted 16 December 2011 - 12:01 AM

          Welcome AC, nice to see some of you guys taking the time over here too :)

          Jim and I are referring more to those sites which have been rated negatively by only a few, thus have no comments so far. I think if a site attracted a lot of ratings, then it would naturally have attracted a lot of comments, at which point the comments probably don't matter as much because we would know if a large number of people rate it poorly we'd probably accept the majority rule, but where a site has few ratings and no comments, and it showing as untrusted, how do any of us know what the issues are and how would WOT know what to do about the situation if that webmaster were to complain or raise their grievances in the forums?. If the people doing the rating don't want to be identified then presumably they wouldn't speak out against the webmaster in such a forum thread and if WOT couldn't find any issues with the site would that mean they would alter the ratings?. You see our dilemma here :)

          At the end of the day the only possible solution to this specific problem would be to force users to post comments, or make users ratings new sites post comments, but as has been said over on the WOT forums, this would only then have the effect of making individuals post useless comments possibly, or steering clear of rating new sites altogether - neither situation, nor the current one solving the problem I guess. Maybe there just isn't a solution to this specific problem, well in fact, the more I think about it the more I'm convincing myself there isn't - apart from the fact of the person doing the rating actually leaving a worthwhile comment to backup their ratings which, as we've seen from the problem we're describing, doesn't happen!! Arrrghhh, my head hurts!
          Please remember that we have people from many different timezones on the site and if your post requires a reply it could take longer at some at some points because of this.

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          #25 AlphaCentauri

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            Posted 16 December 2011 - 03:58 AM

            I would personally prefer that if someone's rating would push a site's average strongly in a negative direction for whatever reason (because there are few prior ratings or a because it is a member with high reliability), that member would be at prompted to make a comment before leaving the scorecard.

            I wouldn't be surprised if WOT eventually made some type of modification like that. Since the top executives at WOT participate in the forum discussions and can be easily contacted via private message, people's ideas do have an impact.

            I'm not entirely sure how the WOT algorithm works, but I think that when one is building reputation, comments count independently of ratings. So it is very much in a member's interest to leave a comment. In addition, a well-written comment that shows up in the community news feed will often cause a lot of other members to add their own ratings to that scorecard. By having a number of other ratings in close agreement, it will boost your own reputation weight.

            Facebook is just the most glaring example of how democracy and even "meritocracy" can fail. It's dangerous as hell, and not only does WOT rate it green, sites like SiteAdvisor wouldn't dare give it a poor rating and risk the ire of its millions of users.


            #26 James (Jim) Hillier

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              Posted 16 December 2011 - 04:08 AM

              @Marko - Great summation of the issues mate!! :good:

              @AlphaCentauri

              Quote

              Shoot, some of you didn't even finish reading BobJam's one post
              Fair suck of the sauce bottle mate, it is about 3 miles long. :)

              Quote

              it would be nice except for the practical issue of scalability. There may be huge numbers of people submitting ratings for a site compared to those currently adding comments
              As with BobJam you are tending to miss the point somewhat, or at least misreading the issue. I certainly do not expect to see a huge list of comments, nor would I want to. A summary would suffice, just a concise statement of prevalent issues attached to the site report - anything which indicates why a site deserves to be rated negatively.

              At the moment: I visit a site, WOT rates the site negatively, every other advisory service rates the same site green (safe). So I navigate to the WOT Site Details page and see absolutely nothing which lets me know why the site deserves a negative rating. I guess in the end it comes down to 'trust, but that's a difficult concept to come to grips with when WOT is the sole detractor. It seems to me that WOT rates far more sites negatively than any other similar service. The common response to that point is WOT utilizes a stricter set of standards, and while I concede that may well be the case, I can also perceive a certain vulnerability in a system which relies heavily on user input. I have been dealing with the computer using general public for a very long time and I'm well aware of the pitfalls - I've even read comments from users complaining that CCleaner is malware!! I for one am not prepared to trust negative ratings which have been predominantly derived from such sources - certainly not without some sort of validation. At the moment. if everyone else rates a site green and only WOT assigns a negative rating, I am ignoring WOT and assessing the site as safe. I'm sure Marko would agree that he has also done the same on many occasions.

              Sorry, I do get a bit passionate about this subject - I really don't believe the current system is fair or just.

              Thanks for your input,
              Cheers...Jim
              Jim Hillier - Managing editor Daves Computer Tips.com

              #27 James (Jim) Hillier

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                Posted 16 December 2011 - 05:16 AM

                Okay, just had an inspired thought. You may or may not be aware I am associated with several sites, primarily I am Chief Editor and Assistant Administrator at DavesComputerTips.com. Now, I can assure you I double and triple check every link, download, site, comment, article, everything on DCT. Just went to the WOT site details page for DCT and although we are rated Green the scores are fairly low; Trustworthiness - 77, Vendor reliability - 77 (we don't even sell anything!!), Privacy - 76, Child Safety - 80. These scores do not in any way shape or form reflect the true nature and attitude of the site. I've been associated with DCT for over 3 years, no-one sets higher standards for privacy, safety and ethics than I, and Dave. (maybe Marko would come close :)).

                There is also one negative rating with this associated comment: "There is a link to a rogue security tool ErrorSolver website" - that is absolute rubbish, and this idiot rated our site Red.

                Nuff said!!!
                Jim Hillier - Managing editor Daves Computer Tips.com

                #28 Claw

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                  Posted 16 December 2011 - 06:01 AM

                  In the Criminal Justice System ,you have the "Right" to face your accuser. You do this to hear the reasons for the accusations. If and when WOT gives a negative rating, we all should be able to "Face" WOT and hear the reasons for the accusations of being deemed a "Bad" site!!!!

                  Oh,,and Marko comes VERY close!!!!

                  #29 AlphaCentauri

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                    Posted 16 December 2011 - 06:02 AM

                    Those are actually pretty good scores for a site without huge amounts of traffic.

                    Again, I'm not privy to the details of the rating algorithm. But if I were to go to an unknown domain and rate it 100% for everything, it will not show 100% ratings once they refresh and show my input, even though I'm the sole person rating. However, I can make a bad site 0% very easily. You don't start with 100% and get rated down; you start somewhere in the middle and get pulled up by good ratings.

                    The two little heads in the confidence bar for your site are also indicative that the ratings it has received are pretty consistently positive. Again, your site isn't going to have a massive number of ratings, so those it has must really agree to get two heads.

                    The two and a half year old comment with a bunch of thumbs-downs attached to it by a guy with a low activity level probably isn't contributing much, no matter what rating he gave your site. Ratings decline in weight with time, so even if he never returns to reassess your site, his effect will disappear.

                    In a perfect world, my advice to you would be to go through the site owner process: "Claim" your site (ie, post a file that proves you own it), then start a thread to request reviews, pointing out that your site provides free help, that you are meticulous at checking what is posted on your site, and that you are very committed to privacy. And I would advise that you NOT make any mention of dissatisfaction with the ratings you already have or with the WOT system in general. Some WOT regulars are defensive, as you have found. As you have a useful site, I suspect you would find them happy to boost your ratings further.

                    But I say "In a perfect world" because the forum rating process is very underpowered, and has become more so lately since there was some personal feuding that drove off some very committed members. Many good sites post their requests for ratings and don't get responses. Finding a problem with a bad site is quick; doing a thorough evaluation of a good site to demonstrate there are no problems is rather time consuming, and there simply aren't enough volunteers to make sure all get the attention they deserve.

                    #30 Claw

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                      Posted 16 December 2011 - 06:18 AM

                      This seems like way too much talk!!!1







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