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Response from WOT

web of trust wot

10 replies to this topic

#1 marko

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    Posted 04 January 2012 - 11:59 AM

    Just before Christmas, we sent WOT a few questions based on some of the feedback received on both THIS thread and THIS thread.
    I'd like to thank Sami, the co-founder, for taking the time to answer these questions and invite you all again to share your opinions on these responses - I'll be noting some of my own, further, observations shortly too :)

    Question 1
    It can often be the case that WOT will list a site positively based on ratings received from it's members, although we ourselves often rate down some developer sites when we find evidence that their software contains viruses, malware or illicit practices such as forcing third-party add-ons in their installers, etc. We know it's very possible for a site to mistakenly be considered as distributors of malware or viruses through false-positives, but normally we consider our own investigations and take on board what everyone else is saying - but when there are numerous comments from members explaining a site is guilty of distributing malware and notes from "trusted" sources present, how is it then possible for a site to retain or even gain an "excellent" or even "Good" status from WOT?. Surely, an additional rating colour or some form of advisory should be present where it's found ratings/comments can be considered controversial to draw people's attentions to the fact multiple negative comments exist?.

    Reply From WOT

    Quote

    The reputations tell you how much people trust websites. While websites that contain malware often have a poor reputation, we only rate hostnames and don't have any intention of trying to replace the protection provided by antivirus software. It's certainly possible for a file hosting service, for example, to contain malicious files but still have a good reputation should people find the service itself trustworthy.

    Comments can easily appear to conflict with the reputation, because leaving comments is optional and in our experience, people who disagree with the reputation are far more likely to write a comment than others. This means that comments often give you a very biased or at least polarized view of people's opinions. We use only ratings to determine whether the reputation is controversial, because it's usually impossible to determine this from comments. For example, while the comments for facebook.com appear to be mostly negative, the site's reputation is not even close to being controversial as the vast majority of the ~200k unique ratings we have for the site are positive. As a result, we don't have plans to add a separate indicator for comments, because we feel it wouldn't provide the user reliable information.

    Question 2
    Similarly, where negative comments exist we have the above issue sometimes, but the opposite can also be true where a site is rated negatively and shows up as such on the WOT add-on, yet viewing the scorecard there are no comments whatsoever and the confidence ratings are very poor indeed. This would imply to the add-on user that WOT considers that particular site as dangerous, etc, where only a few have rated it negatively and chosen not to leave comments to substantiate their ratings?. While we appreciate comments can simply attribute to social engineering, the current system neither provides the needed feedback or evidence to backup the claims the site shouldn't be trusted. Is there anything in the pipeline that could address such issue's as this?.

    Reply From WOT

    Quote

    The add-on shows our users a confidence indicator, which tells them how reliable a reputation is, and shows warnings only when we consider the reputation to be reliable enough. Typically when a website's reputation is poor and its confidence has reached the warning threshold, there are also comments in the scorecard that provide additional information about the reasons behind the ratings. Of course, it's quite possible for a site to have a poor reputation without anyone explaining why they rated it poorly. Since we cannot force anyone to reveal the reasons why they don't trust a website, there's very little we can do to dig up more information. Should you come across a website that you feel is poorly rated for a reason you cannot fathom, it's best to post about it on our forum and have other people to review the site again. Most often in these cases the site has been blacklisted by a third-party source and there haven't been enough new ratings to significantly change the reputation.

    Question 3
    As we know, technology and particularly the web changes at a rapid pace - without giving any secrets away, does WOT have any particular plans to maintain itself as one of the leading advisories or do you feel the systems you currently have in place will naturally adapt and evolve with the changing face of the net?

    Reply From WOT

    Quote

    We are continuously analyzing and improving our algorithms and other systems to improve reputation quality. We are confident that our approach for measuring trust instead of technical safety alone is something that will become even more important in future.

    Question 4
    When some sites become a little controversial, it's normal for WOT to disable further comments - after all they don't attribute to the overall rating of a site, though firstly, who actually decides that enough is enough for site comments and secondly, doesn't this really go against the grain of what WOT stands for by users having their say or disagreeing with other users?

    Reply From WOT

    Quote

    Commenting is not disabled, only comment voting. This is done automatically when the reputation is controversial to prevent one side of an argument from suppressing other opinions. You can still write comments, but not vote for them. This doesn't prevent anyone from having their say, if they so choose, it only prevents them from silencing others.

    Question 5
    WOT are often compared to other site advisories like SiteAdvisor, Browser Defender, Norton Safe Web and so on - most of us know WOT works differently and rates the "trust" or a website - but in your opinion how does this make WOT any more reliable than another site advisory?. If we have impartial and proven technology automatically scanning and looking for problems on websites (as the other advisories do) can this be considered more credible than allowing users to cast their votes?

    Reply From WOT

    Quote

    We're often compared to services that use automated scanning, but we are not directly competing with them. Computers are good and impartial at detecting technical threats, but are also happy to let you fall for scams. They don't warn you about unreliable web shops, rogue pharmacies that sell you counterfeit drugs, pyramid schemes, or countless other scams that are promoted on the web as we speak. Seeing how much other people trust websites can be extremely helpful when you are trying to decide whether to interact with a site you don't know.


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    #2 marko

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      Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:10 AM

      As promised, I've taken a little time to consider the answers from WOT and I'm still not really any closer to appreciating the algorithms or the way things are worked out on their system. I understand it's all about trust, I absolutely get where WOT are coming from, but for me, when a handful of people comment that a developers website is distributing viruses and/or a TRUSTED source confirms the same, I just don't see how WOT doesn't have some form of warning system about that. They do in some circumstances where the site is rated negatively by many people, but where, for example, a site is rated well by 10 people but commented on negatively by 20, then the ratings still take precedence, which in my opinion can be considered a problem.

      As I've said before, it's very possibly the case that WOT have done all they can and are often between a rock and a hard place in some circumstances, having to trade off a particular rating or comment theme to gain a more relevant rating in another area - but it's apparent that when users are involved in making up the main of the ratings, confusion will most certainly be prominent - and as for WOT's claims that the system cannot easily be manipulated, I have my doubts if I'm honest - I had thought that if a user were to simply rate sites one after another this would trigger some form of bot/spam alert (as it states on the WOT FAQ) but one very experienced WOT user told me previously that when they began rating sites in WOT that they had already rated in SiteAdvisor, they did so one after the other and very quickly ... their ratings took effect on WOT which essentially means anyone could do the same and contradicts what WOT say.

      I'm not attempting to take anything away from WOT, I still favour it as my advisory, but I'm really not believing all the claims made by WOT, it's most certainly not the infallible service it makes itself out to be, not by a long shot - but as I've said before, would I still recommend and use it? - well, yes, and quite possibly over and above all the other advisories too I may add because WOT does come head and shoulders above the other advisories in many ways, one of which is it's response rates in their forums, whereas as we've seen before, the likes of SiteAdvisor can blacklist a site incorrectly for many months (or even years) before it manages to change the rating, by which time some damage has already been done to those sites. Here's the bottom line ... no advisory service can possibly be 100% accurate - by their very nature they get it wrong sometimes, hell, we've done the same - the question is, do they do what they can to make sure their advisory is as good as it can be?. Well, yes, of course they probably do, what would be the point in their advisory if they didn't!!. That, together with the fact that when something 'fishy' turns up, they'll jump on it and make moves to correct it all leads to a very pro-active and responsive advisory service that would receive a confidence rating of around 70-80% from me, whereas the others would only receive something like a 40-50% confidence rating.

      Problem is, most people tend to forget that when they see a rating they do not agree with, they can raise this on the forums - instead they will quite possibly put down the WOT service as being incorrect and form their opinion based on that rating alone. Next time you see such a rating, raise it with them on their site and see what they say - it could be they'll explain why the rating is the way it is and you might actually agree with them based on what they say!!. In other words, give them a chance to correct something or explain something.

      As I've always said, use any advisory as just that - it's only meant to be a guide and not taken literally - if a website is rated negatively, check it out yourself or google the site in question to see what others are saying about it. Don't take the word of an advisory as gospel, and above all else, rate sites you use yourself which may add to the overall ratings of that site and improve relevancy :)

      Thanks to Sami for taking the time to provide the above answers
      Marko
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      #3 Gremlinn

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        Posted 29 January 2012 - 04:32 PM

        Some things were cleared up for me, but in the end, i'm not liking the fact that if i may have a disagreement with a rating, i would need to go to their forum and post when alot of the time when i am surfing, i don't want to have to stop what i'm doing and go to their forum to make a post and wait for a response.
        The purpous of me using a security item is having one i have confidence it will do the job without my having to doublecheck it's findings.Pretty much all programs will have some false positives, but in using them you know that any particular program will have a certain level of correctly identifying problems. This false lableing by users of some sites and my having to dig to see if they are correct seems like a big waste of my time.
        I really get annoyed when i see that whole page warning me that a site has a poor rep, then finding that comments made were less than informative.
        WOT has garnered alot of publicity as a great addon to have in the fight against malware, and to an extent it is but i find my confidence in it has waned greatly.


        #4 marko

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          Posted 29 January 2012 - 04:42 PM

          One of the things WOT were keen to have themselves steered away from, was the label they were any form of "virus" or "malware" warning system - they made it perfectly clear that the other advisories could pretty much do that, but at the end of the day I do believe they are still forgetting that the average user WILL NOT differentiate between an advisory which scans websites or an advisory which relies on user input. The whole "trust" thing surrounding WOT (Web Of Trust) has been misinterpreted by many people, of whom I believe WOT have themselves, because they can claim NOT to be an advisory for viruses or malware but when a site that is rated good is known to distribute viruses or malware (god knows, we've rated plenty but have actually stopped now because most of our ratings don't even scratch the surface besides the other ratings which apparently rate the sites good) they then find themselves having to explain the entire 'trust' concept and because it's user rated their opinions matter.

          This is true to an extent, and democracy rules in most situations so a rating of 20 good and 10 bad will often result in a good rating for a site, but who's to say those 20 people rating it good are right?. They could all be wrong and WOT could be seen to be inviting people into a really bad situation!!. That's not to say the other advisories are any better though, no no, personally speaking they can get it wrong on a bigger scale than WOT but as I said previously, take the rating with a pinch of salt and do some checking of our own - that way, we can be as sure as possible :)
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          #5 Claw

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            Posted 29 January 2012 - 07:20 PM

            This WOT situation can be dicussed over and over for an eternity,and will really never be settled. Why???? There's an old saying
            "six one way,,,half a dozen the other" . Meaning,, it's just going to be how "YOU" want to interpet the ratings. Do they need explanations???? YES,,Marko,Jim,,and all of us have proven why !!!! Then again,,as Marko states," Democracy Rules". There is also the "You run your business the way you want,,and we'll run ours our way"!!
            The "take the ratings with a pinch of salt" rule "SEEMS" to be the only logical way to go about looking at it. In the end, it all turns out to rest and rely on your own common sense and judgement that you are making the right choice. It has and will always solely rely on "YOU" !! :)


            #6 Gremlinn

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              Posted 30 January 2012 - 12:19 AM

              All of that taken, the bottom line for me is in the end, WOT is not all it's cracked up to be. I've seen it touted as a "must have" all over the inet and the reality is that it cannot be relied upon..hardly at all if you think about it. Enough miscreatins vote a site down without any good reason and the alarm goes up.
              I will stick to my orig layered tactic for my security without that program wasting my time.


              #7 Claw

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                Posted 30 January 2012 - 01:17 AM

                Gremmy my friend,,I still have WOT,,and I'll most likely use it forever. BUT,,I will not solely rely on it . When I hit a negative rated site,it will at least make me think,hmmmmm. Then the decision to keep going or not will not be in WOTs hands,,it will be up to me. As long as it stops me from leaping head first and slows me down so I can walk in,,so to speak,,,that may just be enough. Like I said ,,the final choice is mine!!!!

                #8 Gremlinn

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                  Posted 30 January 2012 - 01:23 AM

                  It's best not to rely on just one product! Everybody will choose to use it or not, i just can't stand to have anything that doesn't perform up to my expectations installed on my pc. Takes up my space AND my precious memory..lol
                  Have fun with it buddy!


                  #9 Claw

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                    Posted 30 January 2012 - 01:32 AM

                    Yea dude,,if it wouldn't be for that gigantic Warning screen,,I really forget that it's there. This thing with WOT and others is like everything else,,,,you just never know.

                    #10 marko

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                      Posted 30 January 2012 - 07:26 AM

                      Some time back our man Jimbo recommended LinkExtend which combines several different site advisories into one convenient program - I've used it ever since :)
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