, Technology

WOT is your Reputation?

It’s surprising that there wasn’t more news of the engagement of WOT and Facebook. WOT stands for “Web of Trust” and is a community-built site of users that rate websites.

In May, Facebook began to use the service as a police dog to protect its users against clicking through to malicious sites. Sounds like a good move by Facebook on the surface, but the underlying pinnings of WOT are actually a bit scary. On some sites, WOT may as well stand for “Web Of Trolls”. One case in point are the sites of Email Service Providers.

Mailchimp on WOT:

Emailvision on WOT:

ExactTarget on WOT:

iContact on WOT:

Mailchimp, Emailvision, iContact and ExactTarget are 4 very different email service providers but all of them are heavily engaged in permission-based marketing, ensuring their clients are both educated on SPAM regulations, and all have engaged deliverability teams that are constantly building relationships with Internet Service Providers. If they did allow SPAM, their deliverability rates would drop and they would simply be out of business. An ESP lives and breaths on its ability to get the message to the inbox.

I don’t doubt that some unsolicited email made it out of any of these ESPs… but I also don’t doubt that the client responsible for the SPAM was counseled or even ejected from the company. Each of these ESPs have strict guidelines that a company must agree to. Instead of holding the clients accountable, though, WOT defaults to the source of the messaging via IP addresses and applies the criticism to the ESP, regardless of their standing in the email community. Since WOT started as a European site, sites in Europe are also rated much more critically than sites in North America.

The result of these poor ratings is that these sites are sometimes blocked by sites, like Facebook, when users click an external link. Imagine losing all your Facebook traffic because of a faulty WOT rating! That’s a substantial hit nowadays.

Ironically, some porn sites have better scores of trustworthiness than the email service providers!

The problem is that many people feel that there’s wisdom in a crowd when there’s really no such evidence. Most crowds are made up of anonymous influencers who are followed by anonymous followers… and some of the influencers aren’t exactly subject matter experts on the topic they are rating.

In this specific case, we see that the WOT community… many of whom probably have never had to use an Email Service Provider… think that anyone pushing out mass volumes of email is simply a spammer. The ratings are anonymous, poorly written, and don’t provide any evidence that the source of the reputation issue is the Email Service Provider in question. There’s no means to question a review for accuracy or knowledge… and there’s no recourse for the companies who fall victim to the crowd.

If we’re going to leave our site’s reputation up to the wisdom of the crowd, who’s making sure the crowd is educated and knows what it’s doing? It would make much more sense for verified customers of these sites and services to be able to rank the vendor than total strangers who are simply following the wisdom of the crowd. I’m not sure WOT is a good solution for Facebook or any other application to use.

I’m looking forward to seeing how my post impacts this domain’s trustworthiness! I trust it won’t be pretty.

11 Comments

  1. 1

    A site’s reputation is computed from ratings, not comments. Leaving a comment is completely optional, and since users who disagree with the reputation are more likely to also write a comment, it’s not uncommon for comments to appear to contradict the reputation.

    The reputation ratings of three of the four email service providers that you referenced in your posting are good or excellent. Please see the scorecards:

    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/mailchimp.com
    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/icontact.com
    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/exacttarget.com

    The only one that has a poor reputation is this one:
    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/emailvision.com

    As our name indicates, WOT is about trust. A website’s technical safety is an important factor when determining its trustworthiness. However, it is also a valid reason to rate a site poorly if you do not trust the content or organization behind a website, or in these cases, if you receive spam.

    WOT reputation ratings are users’ subjective opinions and experience about websites’ trustworthiness. We believe that combining a large amount of opinions/experiences (aka Wisdom of the Crowds) with information we get from our trusted sources (phishing and malware blacklists, etc.) gives us the most accurate information about a website’s trustworthiness.

    If you disagree with a rating, the most effective course of action is to rate it yourself and add a comment explaining your own experience with the site.

    Safe surfing,
    Deborah
    Web of Trust

  2. 2

    A site’s reputation is computed from ratings, not comments. Leaving a comment is completely optional, and since users who disagree with the reputation are more likely to also write a comment, it’s not uncommon for comments to appear to contradict the reputation.

    The reputation ratings of three of the four email service providers that you referenced in your posting are good or excellent. Please see the scorecards:

    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/mailchimp.com
    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/icontact.com
    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/exacttarget.com

    The only one that has a poor reputation is this one:
    http://www.mywot.com/scorecard/emailvision.com

    As our name indicates, WOT is about trust. A website’s technical safety is an important factor when determining its trustworthiness. However, it is also a valid reason to rate a site poorly if you do not trust the content or organization behind a website, or in these cases, if you receive spam.

    WOT reputation ratings are users’ subjective opinions and experience about websites’ trustworthiness. We believe that combining a large amount of opinions/experiences (aka Wisdom of the Crowds) with information we get from our trusted sources (phishing and malware blacklists, etc.) gives us the most accurate information about a website’s trustworthiness.

    If you disagree with a rating, the most effective course of action is to rate it yourself and add a comment explaining your own experience with the site.

    Safe surfing,
    Deborah
    Web of Trust

    • 3

      Deborah,

      I think it’s safe to assume that if people are taking the time to comment, they’re also scoring the site. I don’t disagree with you regarding trust of the content or the organization. I disagree with you regarding the accuracy of your site. You mention SPAM, but the poorly rated Emailvision is a leader internationally in deliverability and opt-in, permission-based marketing messaging. Your site is simply wrong.

      I found another one:
      http://www.mywot.com/en/scorecard/webtrends.com

      Webtrends was the first analytics company on the Internet. The trolls scoring with your site are irate because of tracking technology. The irony is that your very site utilizes Google Analytics – tracking visitors.

      Dismissing this feedback and just advising people to ‘go get more ratings’ doesn’t own up to a serious issue here. Your company has the ability to severely impact the traffic that goes to these businesses – yet you supply no means for valid, legal, trustworthy businesses to investigate or clear their poor ratings.

      Doug

  3. 4

    I like Web Of Trust, But I’ve noticed the same things. Some reviews, in fact a lot of reviews, like of shoot the messenger of a certain service because of users disobeying and ignoring typical rules and terms of service. I still use WOT, I just use it with a grain of salt.

  4. 5

    I like Web Of Trust, But I’ve noticed the same things. Some reviews, in fact a lot of reviews, like of shoot the messenger of a certain service because of users disobeying and ignoring typical rules and terms of service. I still use WOT, I just use it with a grain of salt.

  5. 6

    Welcome to a new era of digital witch-hunting.

    If the crowd was knowledgeable, we wouldn’t need governments to take decision for all of us.

    Actually, I am not really surprised that there wasn’t more publicity about the deal between Web Of Trust and Facebook because it would have exposed Web Of Trust system to the analysis of knowledgeable people. And it wouldn’t have taken much time to expose the numerous flaws of their system and the lack of credibility of their ratings.

    If you are interested to learn more about Web Of Trust, I invite you to read an in-depth analysis that I have written: MYWOT Web Of Trust Review: Modern Web Totalitarism

    It may be time to expose the stinky truth behind MyWot…

  6. 7

    Welcome to a new era of digital witch-hunting.

    If the crowd was knowledgeable, we wouldn’t need governments to take decision for all of us.

    Actually, I am not really surprised that there wasn’t more publicity about the deal between Web Of Trust and Facebook because it would have exposed Web Of Trust system to the analysis of knowledgeable people. And it wouldn’t have taken much time to expose the numerous flaws of their system and the lack of credibility of their ratings.

    If you are interested to learn more about Web Of Trust, I invite you to read an in-depth analysis that I have written: MYWOT Web Of Trust Review: Modern Web Totalitarism

    It may be time to expose the stinky truth behind MyWot…

  7. 8

    Doug, I did a test with my blog. My site had positive rating before I submitted it for evaluation. Then all of a sudden the trolls went to work and rated in negatively. I wrote a post about it that you might find interesting: 
    http://www.affhelper.com/mywot-reviews-exposed/

    I am not sure why Facebook made a deal with them. Their ratings can be manipulated and I proved it in my post. They are destroying reputations of legitimate bloggers and online businesses, and getting away with it. They are encouraging negative ratings because it helps them grow their user base. WOT uses controversy to gain as many new users as possible. 

    Deborah goes out and basically tells everyone to rate the site yourself, or get others to rate it. That right there exposes their true intentions.

  8. 9
  9. 10

    MyWOT is seriously messing with businesses from anywhere with any
    reputation. 90% of the ratings seem to be made by a group of users.
    Their comments look like a template and mostly negative. They claim that
    rates are made based on a huge number of votes but that’s pure lie.
    Powered users rating weigh is way higher than a normal user. So let’s
    make some users there and rate until we are powered user and Voilaaa, we
    can screw anyone’s reputations. Oh yeah, if they pay us, we remove our
    bad ratings. Good business isn’t it ?

    I guess geeks can make loads of money on MyWOT (Web of SCAM).

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