We received the following comment from Terri on our Information Avenue site this week. We found it interesting – and we think you will too.
“One of our websites was hit on June 12, 2011, by one of the “Platinum” users using the “Mass Rating Tool”. If you look at all of his “Posts”, about a hundred have the same comment and rating, yes that’s the so called beauty of “The Tool” it allows them to “Spam” someone’s good name. I’m not surprised our site got “found”, my husband makes WordPress Themes and his link is in all of his themes, so yes our website name is associated with about…well according to Google…917,000 listings.
Anyhow, this “No Scams” person at “MyWoT” listed us as “Blog/Splog type link site to counterfeit websites, most likely from China. Beside bad shopping experience you risk credit card phishing.” along with about 100 other sites that day. Funny thing is, our server is in the US, we are in Canada, even though we have the word “buy” as part of our URL, we don’t sell anything. My husband makes free Themes and free Plugins for WordPress.org, as well as helps an awful lot of people in the world. That’s what really gets me is that one of their “Platinum” users can use a “Spamming” tool to Ruin a persons reputation. And I’m sure they will come back and say it was some anonymous person from the net who rated us…but it actually does show this persons user name and I found the page we are on from June 12 of his history.
Sorry I guess I just have to rant, because I don’t know the person who did this and it’s obvious they don’t know us with the comment they made about our site.
Yes, I have emailed, I doubt that it will do any good, seeing how it hasn’t done anyone else any good.
If anyone has any “words of wisdom” for me that would be wonderful. Thanks for reading my rant.”
We’re not sure if we have any words of wisdom for Terri, but we can say we warned everyone quite a while ago that a community rating system – where those who rate the most sites are rewarded and encouraged – would end hurting innocent sites and cause WOT to stray from its stated mission of protecting users from truly dangerous sites.
The WOT (Web of Trust) rating system encourages abuse – and offers the company protection from defamation and libel lawsuits. Instead of taking responsibility for the ratings they give sites, they can simply say, “our community members rated the site and we are simply basing our ratings on our community’s input.” This shouldn’t fly in a court of law. A company like WOT should bear the burden if it rates innocent sites as dangerous and thus drives business or traffic away from them. If a mom and pop store provides a living for a family – a bad rating by WOT could take away that family’s income.
We said a long time ago that WOT needs to verify its ratings – and not depend on a handful of its community member armed with mass rating tools to rate sites poorly for no other reason than they had a bad experience with the site or they don’t agree with the site’s content. Or maybe had no experience with the site at all. It’s bad enough that WOT doesn’t take responsibility for the ratings it publishes, but that it rewards and encourages this mass-rating mania is unconscionable.
Now WOT has sold its services to Facebook, schools, and even law enforcement. WOT is selling Safe Site Badges to sites willing to pay for them. In short, WOT is profiting while site’s like Terri’s husband’s are being hurt.
WOT needs to be held responsible for ratings which are baseless and unfounded. WOT needs to control its community and not encourage and reward users who post tens of thousands of ratings.
The only way to get WOT to listen and to stop them from hurting sites that are not dangerous is for people to stop using WOT. Most current version browsers have anti-phishing site and fraudulent site filters. People need to stop depending on WOT to tell them which sites are safe and which are not – because honestly WOT’s community doesn’t seem to know. WOT should have concentrated its efforts on keeping people off of truly dangerous sites – not sites with content they don’t agree with – or totally innocent sites like Terri’s husband’s.
Using WOT’s toolbar will only end up damaging the reputation of more innocent and/or non-dangerous sites. We frankly don’t care what WOT’s community thinks of sites with whom they don’t agree. We think WOT should have stuck to its original mission of protecting users from dangerous sites – but it has gotten so far from that mission that we would never consider using WOT on our computers.