Avast Plays “Rate this Site”

By | June 25, 2012
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MaryLee on Avast’s’ site rating feature
Hi TC & EB, On your suggestion, I was just about to uninstall the free version of Avast, to try the Microsoft program you recommended recently, when Avast made an update to their program, so I downloaded the new version. Now I see that they have a “rate this site,” feature which I use.

I’ve never had any trouble with Avast, so I’m staying with it for now and rating sites that I visit (yours, with excellence, of course.) I wonder if you’ve seen this yet and what you think of it, compared to McAfee’s Site Advisor. I already know what you two think of WOT, and I agree and dumped it long ago. … Also, note to TC: I know you enjoy Hugh Laurie on “House,” and think you’ll like this interview with him on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, from 02 Mar 2011: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZgFgS0NTxw . Thanks for all you do for us, MaryLee

Our answer
Thanks, MaryLee – and thanks for the “House” – he does an American accent so well, doesn’t he?

With regard to Avast’s new “feature”:

Any time a software product or a software company “recommends” a site, you should question the motivation. Is it subject to someone paying someone for that “recommendation”…especially if the product is free. The idea of adding more and more “features” to an antivirus program, makes it more and more like a “security suite”. Security suites use the often tried and often failed “all-in-one” approach. All-in-one products try to be everything to everybody – it’s a great marketing gimmick, but not usually a great idea.

Asking users to rate sites is a is a terrible idea, no matter how democratic it may sound. As we noted in our WOT article a while ago, there were millions of negative comments, and very few positive ones. The web is not that unbalanced; there at not 20 times more bad sites than decent sites. It’s pure fantasy to think that a system whereby sites are rated by all users, could ever be accurate or reliable. What one person may like, another person may hate. Imagine a site promoting Buddhism – being rated by Born-Again Christians. What kind of rating do you think that site would receive in a Christian country? Regardless of one’s beliefs – a site which espouses conflicting or different beliefs does not make it a bad site. Users are biased toward their own likes, dislikes, social values, religious beliefs and so on. A company that has tried a user-based rating system, Web of Trust (WOT) won’t even respond to our requests for information as to how they arrive at site ratings – or how much weight they give to users’ ratings. We’ve been trying to get WOT to respond to us for 3 weeks now about how they arrive at the their site ratings. So far, we’ve heard nothing.

Who is qualified to tell me what sites I like and don’t like? Not you, not EB, not my family, and certainly not a bunch of anonymous people; the only one qualified to rates sites for me is me. Browsers have features built-in to warn me of potentially harmful sites, fraudulent sites and phishing sites; I don’t need the masses to tell me what to like or what’s good and bad, and neither do you. Allowing users to rate sites will never work and it’s subject to too much abuse and too heavily weighted toward the negative.

And anytime any company rates sites as good or bad, you need to question how they arrive at those ratings and what’s going on behind the scenes. Is money the motivation? In the world of the Web, the number of visitors, the number of people using the software, the number of people in the software “community”, etc. can all affect how a site is rated – because traffic equals money.

In my opinion, AVAST site rating system whether based on user ratings, some Avast algorithm, or both, would be motivation for removing AVAST and use an anti-malware program that concentrates all its efforts on protecting my computer rather than attempting to judge web sites. I sure don’t need my antivirus program telling me which sites it recommends or doesn’t recommend – or having it ask me to rate sites. I don’t need to do that – there is no benefit to me or anyone else.

This whole “safe site” idea is much better in theory than in practice. There’s far too much room for abuse. There are too many variables in any system of site rating, because as far as I can see, rating systems are arbitrary, not accurate, and could end up being abused and use a vehicle for retribution and/or censorship. Worse they could be use to sway opinion, or to push political or religious agendas.

The current versions of Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, and Apple’s Safari all have excellent fraudulent site and anti-phishing protection. I think that you’d be better off if you didn’t trust someone else’s opinion of what constitutes a good site or a bad site.. and find an antimalware like Microsoft Security Essentials that just does what it’s supposed to do and doesn’t recommend web sites.

We highly recommend MSE and a good antispyware like SUPERAntiSpyware and keeping them updated. We also recommend keeping whatever browser you use updated, and that you rely on it to protect you from fraudulent sites and phishing sites. Use common sense and don’t rely on something or someone else to rate Web sites. There is no system of rating Web sites that we know of that is not flawed; every one we’ve seen is too arbitrary and subject to abuse and misuse.

9 thoughts on “Avast Plays “Rate this Site”

  1. theo

    Unfortunately, I too am sticking with Avast but for a different reason. I did an uninstall of Avast which I was using, made sure I followed all the instructions so it would be gone completely. Rebooted, twice, and installed MSE and I either had to wait up to two minutes for programs to open, or they wouldn’t open at all. I got desperate enough that I added both my programs and programs x86 folders to the exclusion section, but it did no good.

    Alas, I did a clean uninstall and reinstall of MSE and had the same problem, so I uninstalled it a second time and tried BitDefender with the same results.

    So, I’m back to Avast though I haven’t seen the ‘rate this site’ feature and I’ve been using the paid version for quite awhile because I like their sandbox feature.

    I really wanted to use MSE, but just couldn’t get it to work for whatever reason.

  2. Joan G

    I agree with you TC, 100%….and there you go…my opinion. Someone else who has reason, or thinks he/she has reason may completely disagree with me. I gave up Avast when it became a multi-function program and have used MSE since. So far…so good! You and EB have never steered us wrong yet–(at least as far as I know in my experience)–and I will continue to value, appreciate and follow your advice, and continue to recommend Cloudeight to anyone who needs help with a PC problem.

  3. Matthew

    Even though I trust what you guys say; I’ve been doing it for nearly 14 years, I don’t always agree with you, and your opinion of aVast! is one of those times. My gosh people, if you don’t like aVast’s version of WOT, just turn it off. I have used aVast! ever since you guys first plugged it a long time ago, and I can’t find one thing wrong with it. aVast! has yet allowed one virus to sneak through, and if I mistakenly attempt to download anything even remotely related to MyFunWebProducts, a bubble message from aVast! pops up and warns me. I’m sure MSE is wonderful, even if it is a Microsoft product – I’ve had all I can take from Microsoft; going MAC next time – but I think aVast is awesome as well. Perhaps you are overreacting a little bit this time?

    1. mizdoc

      I agree wholeheartedly. Avast has served me well for several years now and I will not change to Microsoft who has messed up pretty well everything they touch. It may be “highly recommended” but wasn’t it just a short time ago that Incredimail was “highly recommended” by this site?

  4. Ju Vy

    When the paid version of Avira ran out I switched to the free Avast one two months ago. Yesterday it updated…. when I turned my computer on this morning it gave me a warning about a program it wanted to open in the sandbox… looked closer and could not believe it…. it warned me about…… Avast! lol
    Now what? lol

  5. Alice

    I agree wholeheartedly with all of Matthew’s comments. I love Avast and it has never let me down.

  6. Marinus Pieck

    It is obvious from the remarks presented by Matthew and mizdoc that they are very much biased against Microsoft.

    Personally I highly praise MSE and having switched to Windows 8 I am certainly not contemplating switching to Mac. It is in my opinion very user friendly, fast and typically in tune with the present time.

  7. Juel

    Very interesting,was thinking of going back to avast. I had it for many years and didn’t think it caused any trouble I have rather an expensive virus protector called Quick Heal Total Security.Was put on by the tech who owns a shop, was fixing my computer and I feel was floggy it.Not that I have had any trouble over the past two years.
    Thanks for the warning

  8. E Muriel Schlecht

    I agree with TC’s reasons 100%. I used to love NortonSystemWorks when I had Win98SE. I used to love AVG and Avast, too. But Norton, AVG, Avast, and others, aren’t the same programs they used to be, but continue to rest on reputations they once deserved.

    As for the “site raters”, it’s just another form of censorship. I’ll make my own choices and form my own opinions, thank you. I only care about ferreting out fraudulent sites, phishing sites, or harmful sites which browsers do a pretty good job at.

    What I’d like some responsible and ethical person/company to do is develop sofware that identifies and warns us about the download bundlers who dump stuff in a download without our permission, or giving advance notification. AND, a software that scans website/download contracts and warns us about some of exceptionally long contracts (which usually contain the “traps” we get suckered into). Most people don’t bother to read those contracts and the authors know we don’t and take advantage.


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