Webmasters: Verify your website's Web of Trust reputation rating - gHacks Tech News

Webmasters: Verify your website's Web of Trust reputation rating

Ilev yesterday mentioned in a comment that Web of Trust was flagging the Loginhelper.com website as a malicious site. When I checked the ranking it was in the lowest sector which meant that visitors with Web of Trust installed would receive a warning before the site was fully displayed to them.

That was a problem, not only because it meant that the site lost visitors every day who did not want to visit a malicious site, but also because it may have impacted other ratings and rankings on the web.

Since it is my site, I was pretty sure that the ratings were incorrect, and the most plausible explanations were either that competing webmasters left bad ratings for the site, or that users misinterpreted the purpose of the site. Two users left negative comments claiming that it was a phishing, scam and spam website.

I had to find a way to resolve the issue to get my site's reputation rating into the green which would remove the warning message when WOT visitors went to the site. Read on to find out what I did.

Checking a site's WOT reputation

You can check out any website's Web of Trust reputation rating on this page. Just go there, enter the domain name and wait for the results to be populated.

web of trust reputation rank

Here you see the domain's rating in four different areas: Trustworthiness, Vendor reliability, Privacy and Child Safety. By default, red and orange Trustworthiness, Vendor reliability and Privacy ratings will display a warning message as an overlay that many WOT users will certainly take serious.

wot warning

The big issue here is that it is not clear why the ratings are that low, and while you can click through to the WOT website for additional details, most WOT users probably trust the rating without doing so. As a webmaster, you also do not know why someone has rated your website poorly when you look at the ratings alone.

It is important to read the comments on the site's reputation scorecard as well if there are any to understand the issues at hand. Now, these comments may still be bogus, especially if they have been placed with malicious intent, for instance to hurt a website's reputation. You may also find links on the page from trusted third party sources such as Symantec or hpHosts.

How to improve a website's Web of Trust rating

Lets assume the site is clean and not engaging in any illegal or malicious activities. If that is the case and it is listed in the reds on WOT, your best chance to get the situation resolved is a review on the WOT forum.

For that you need an account at the website, and once you have created it,I would suggest you rate your website and leave a comment as well. What you should do as well is contact users who left a negative comment asking for a new review of the site. Be polite and do not pressure them. While this will not convince the malicious competitor to change your site's rating, it may very well convince a regular WOT user to modify the site's rating.

To request a review, you first need to claim ownership of the site. This is done on the WOT Reputation Scorecard page where you find the link on the left sidebar underneath the site's screenshot and description. To claim ownership you need to add meta tags to your site for the verification process.

Once you have verified it, you can request an evaluation of the site on the forum.  Be descriptive and polite when you are asking for a review. Explain the situation but do not use too many words to do so. Just a couple of sentences should be enough.

After that all you can do is wait for WOT users to take a look at the site and leave a comment on the forum or on your site's Reputation Scorecard.

I'd suggest you monitor the forum and the scorecard of the site, and since both support RSS, it is probably best to use that to monitor the process.

Closing Words

The process is not ideal, as it only works well for popular sites with thousands of ratings. If you have a site that is not that popular, a handful of maliciously placed ratings can hurt a website's reputation immensely. As a webmaster, I'd recommend monitoring all of your website's reputation scorecards using RSS to make sure you do not miss a single comment that WOT users leave.





  • We need your help

    Advertising revenue is falling fast across the Internet, and independently-run sites like Ghacks are hit hardest by it. The advertising model in its current form is coming to an end, and we have to find other ways to continue operating this site.

    We are committed to keeping our content free and independent, which means no paywalls, no sponsored posts, no annoying ad formats (video ads) or subscription fees.

    If you like our content, and would like to help, please consider making a contribution:

    Comments

    1. Jeremy Collake said on July 29, 2012 at 1:40 pm
      Reply

      The situation is even worse than you may know. There is not only MyWOT, but a plethora of web rating sites (every security company has one). For example, McAfee has SiteAdvisor, Norton as SafeWeb. Unlike MyWOT, these are algorithmic based (meaning they scan for malware, which we all know is prone to false positives). Anyway, so there are LOTS of these services, and NONE of them notify you if your rating changes (afaik).

      Some, like Trend Micro’s Site Safety Center rate specific URLs even, so you can have certain downloads or pages rated dangerous. They almost ALWAYS integrate with your browser, so that the ratings are shown right beside search results, or as the user visits the page. In the case of Yahoo, they show (last I checked) SiteAdvisor ratings as a service to their customers.

      Usually the cause has been (for me) false positives or other mistakes. After having troubles with them myself at one point, I considered setting up a service to notify web site owners when their rating changed at rating service X.

      However, VirusTotal shows web rating results from at least a few services, and I eventually decided the project was too much for me to take on given my existing responsibilities.

      Still, I did set up the site http://falsepositivereport.org to add some *transparency* to false positives AND web site rating mistakes.

      For instance, which vendors have the lowest FP rates, fewest mistakes in web ratings, fix them the fastest, etc.. Many vendors monitored the site when I first set it up, but it kind of dwindled – though I’m hoping to see a resurgence in its use. I feel transparency is important. It is not about shaming and naming, it is about simple transparency. Collateral damage isn’t cool – and nobody wants that. A centralized place to report such incidents makes sense, at least to me.

      Trust me, it can get much worse than you know! These days, an online vendor can literally be put out of business before they realized what the heck happened. I could go on with horror stories that would shock you, but this comment is long enough.

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2012 at 2:37 pm
        Reply

        Jeremy, thanks for the interesting comment. As you may know, I’m currently working on a webmaster related project that includes all kind of notification services, and integrating trust rankings is certainly an idea that I had added to the project’s feature list. Would you be interested in taking part in a closed beta test in the near future?

        1. Anonymous said on July 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm
          Reply

          WoT is the perfect example of crowd-sourcing gone wrong. The concept is beautiful – so long as everyone is ethical, above-board, honest. All it takes is one (1) enemy/competitor/agitator/vengeful person to ruin things for everyone.

        2. Jeremy Collake said on July 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm
          Reply

          I did not know of your current project, but would happy to beta test it. There is also more I can tell you in private channels.

          @Anonymous: Yes, you are right. One of the issues is at MyWOT, for better or worse, is there is a group of protectors who exert *extreme* influence. They’ve built up their activity and reliability scores and can literally make or break you. They act as a gang, normally. This isn’t intentional, it is just that they tend to agree with one another. One lesson I learned is – don’t muck with them ;). They (the same people) are also active at other sites where user comments are taken as part of the site rating. So, these people are to be addressed politely, etc… no matter what your web site rating ;p.

        3. Jeremy Collake said on July 30, 2012 at 9:01 am
          Reply

          BTW Martin, you may want to check out the competition at unlocktheinbox.com . They offer a wide array of free notifications for web masters. I don’t mean to advertise for them, so you can delete this comment if you want. However, wanted to make sure you knew of them. You can best them, I’m sure, as their services are not widely proliferated, or advertised at this point in time.

        4. Martin Brinkmann said on July 30, 2012 at 9:51 am
          Reply

          Thanks for posting. Our approach will be different than theirs. I do not want to get into too many details right now, but ours will be automated once you add a domain name.

        5. Jeremy Collake said on July 30, 2012 at 9:52 am
          Reply

          Martin, theirs is too – after you sign up. It is just that they don’t advertise this, for whatever reason. Once you sign up, they have all sorts of free monitoring services. Daily port scans, daily DNS scans, daily mail server checks, etc…

        6. Martin Brinkmann said on July 30, 2012 at 9:58 am
          Reply

          Oh I see, looking good. I agree that it feels strange that they do not advertise the service.

        7. Jeremy Collake said on August 19, 2012 at 7:17 pm
          Reply

          And Martin, I forgot to mention, if you set up some sort of ‘badge’ I will happily show it on my site. Like ‘scanned by whatever’. Just let me know if you want me to beta test that new service you have coming ;). From what it sounds like, it is beyond anything available now and you got me curious. Always happy to help new tech!

    2. ilev said on July 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm
      Reply

      Martin,

      No more WOT warning :-)

      1. Jeremy Collake said on July 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm
        Reply

        I, for one, voted him up — BUT it is the ‘power raters’ I previously mentioned who make the difference. Glad they saw it was a clear mis-rating. BTW, some of the malware sites manipulate MyWOT by signing up hundreds or thousands of fake users to up their ratings. Fortunately, MyWOT is of course ‘onto’ that and does their best to combat it. Still, I encounter ‘dangerous’ sites with Good ratings from time to time.

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm
        Reply

        Yeah I’m pretty happy about that.

    3. Jojo said on July 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm
      Reply

      Here’s a related tip for NoScript users:

      Mouse over the NS icon, point (with your mouse cursor) at any domain shown in the list and then MIDDLE-CLICK on that domain with the mouse.

      This will open a new page that will allow you to view the WOT site for that domain and also other similar services and site info.

      For example:

      ————-
      static.fmpub.net
      Security and Privacy Info

      This service is experimental and far from being complete yet.

      Currently it provides links to other resources helping to assess the security and privacy trustworthiness of static.fmpub.net.

      * WOT Scorecard about static.fmpub.net
      * McAfee SiteAdvisor(r) rating for static.fmpub.net
      * Webmaster Tips Site Information about static.fmpub.net
      * Safe Browsing Diagnostic on static.fmpub.net
      * hpHost Report on static.fmpub.net

      We hope to keep adding new tools and features over the time, making trust-based decisions easier for NoScript users.
      —————

      1. Martin Brinkmann said on July 29, 2012 at 9:01 pm
        Reply

        NoScript is plain and simply awesome.

        1. Jeremy Collake said on July 29, 2012 at 9:04 pm
          Reply

          e.g. http://www.webutation.net/go/review/ghacks.net <– shows ratings from lots of different services, then averages them to a 0-100 score.

      2. Jeremy Collake said on July 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm
        Reply

        Only problem is that now if you have a false rating at ONE site, I hope that doesn’t make the user believe there is danger there. Similar syndrome as those users who think installing two security products makes them doubly secure. As a side note, Webutation also offers combined ratings and has extensions for most browsers.

    4. Dave said on July 29, 2012 at 10:06 pm
      Reply

      No WOT rejection on your site at present.

    5. Marcus G said on July 29, 2012 at 10:57 pm
      Reply

      WOT is at best, being abused and heavily biased by special interests. I proved this to myself after a round of research on a series of completely benign and safe websites whose very existence promoted concepts detrimental to the economic health of a much larger industry (pharmaceuticals). To think that powerful industries wouldn’t use every possible means to promote themselves and crush the competition is far too naive. Perhaps WOT was created with good intentions, perhaps not. It is clear however that it has been well-compromised and as such is a source of active disinformation.

      1. Jeremy Collake said on July 30, 2012 at 5:49 am
        Reply

        @Marcus: Very interesting! Do you have data on your research? Any paper from it yet? I have also seen it happen to political sites, particularly ones that aren’t mainstream. While I may not support their politics, I don’t think they should be rated as dangerous.

      2. David Hess said on September 24, 2012 at 3:56 pm
        Reply

        While most any reputation system will end up with some sort of bias in its scoring, a reputation system that is actively being gamed is worse than no reputation system at all!

        We believe a good website reputation system should resist gaming on user generated content using a user reputation system (ala StackOverflow) and automatically collect and average trust scores from various sources in order to reduce the effects of bias.

        Trust is a complicated problem but it can be done well.

    6. DominaX said on July 31, 2012 at 6:07 am
      Reply

      WOT… isn’t that the rating website that got kicked out of Facebook’s partnerships? Yes it is! Well, if Facebook doesn’t like it, who does? I know a dozen of people having used and then having removed the WOT addon because it’s useless. After all, it’s only a collection of “like” and “dislike” clicks with a few people commenting nonsense. Who cares what others “think”? I’ld rather opt-in for a good anti-malware and anti-virus solution. As far as “trust” goes, I rather rely on my own. ;)

      1. Jeremy Collake said on December 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm
        Reply

        Indeed, Facebook did drop them, and the more I’ve used MyWOT, the more frustrated I’ve become. I’m frustrated because of what MyWOT *could have been* and what it *is*. It could have been a great service, but a minority of super-raters have been given free reign to actively game the system, imposing their personal opinions on the world. You constantly will encounter completely benign religious and political sites that have been rated down.

        One good example is Scientology. While you we debate the ‘safety’ of the religion itself, the Scientology sites themselves are not technically dangerous in any way – yet they are rated way down (near 0) in every category. A long thread in the MyWOT forums even goes so far as to list all sites known to be affiliated with Scientology, so the power-raters can all go and rate every one down – often without even evaluating the site. This sort of mass-rating and ‘gang’ mentality are very common at MyWOT.

        Conversely, some clearly dangerous sites have been rated UP. I won’t mention them because I don’t want to give them attention, but clearly it is again reflecting the personal opinions and beliefs of this small group of power-raters.

        Why they even have multiple rating categories I don’t know, as people usually rate a site they don’t like ‘bad’ in EVERY category, including Child Safety (which was likely originally intended to mean pr0n). There are VERY FEW sites that have any big divergence in ratings between the various rating categories. Raters will defend this behavior, saying if a site isn’t trustworthy (one category) then it sure isn’t safe for children (another category).

        Worst is that instead of combating this problem, MyWOT has only made the problem worse by rewarding power-raters with various badges and awards AND ever escalating the weight of the raters’ votes. This makes it all a big game to some people who see how much ‘power’ they can develop. These users often tens or hundreds of thousands of them a year!

        If MyWOT would get its act together, it could have – should have – been something pretty cool. Instead, they let themselves get gamed. I would have hope they’d take corrective action, but they haven’t yet in all these years, lending me to believe they have no intention to.

    7. Bangladesh Result said on November 26, 2012 at 10:01 am
      Reply

      Thank you, But is there any way to submit and verify the site to WOT. i need that.

      1. Jeremy Collake said on December 2, 2012 at 11:00 pm
        Reply

        Whatever you do, don’t submit your site for evaluation using the links at MyWOT. This will submit it to the forum, where your site will be picked apart by the small group of power raters. Some may say: Good, that’s fine! Indeed, you would think so, but you may very well end up groveling over the most insignificant stuff you’ve ever seen! If you think just because your site is malware free, you will get a green rating, think again!

        My advice: Tell your users/visitors/friends to rate your site (something MyWOT encourages, this isn’t cheating). This will let you slowly and silently build your site’s reputation without exposing it to the absurdly harsh critique found at the MyWOT forums.

    8. wen said on February 17, 2013 at 4:50 am
      Reply

      so how to change the bad ratting on wot?

    9. amit said on February 16, 2014 at 9:14 am
      Reply

      Hello,
      Martin Brinkmann very nice article . But you know i saw that my website recently lost many user. After that i checked the rating only mywot rating is seeing red. and a user G***(can’t expose he can miss use his power again :-/) i should say that he is miss using the power of mass rating tool. i just want to abuse him. only a single comment spoiled my life. i lost 3000 unique user because of him. he commented on my 4 website with same comment. malicious , spam etc. Man i have adsense , webmaster tool, and i have google rank + good alexa + every antivirus trust
      If any one have solution please please provide. Because its useless to talk with that person. daily he comment on every website and gaining point from them. Please please help me out.

    10. amit said on February 16, 2014 at 9:17 am
      Reply

      Jeremy Collake you are the best. your comment is awesome and i agree with that. Because of this now i am getting the power of rating . Because some person can’t write our fate of website.

    11. Leo said on July 13, 2014 at 11:39 pm
      Reply

      Hello,

      I subscribe my site and one, just one troll with high rating, give a bad review.
      My site are vitim of religious intolerance.
      The reason ? Because my site have religious articles.
      I found an esoteric site in WOT and the same user have rated the site badly.
      Just because he dont believe in prayers and esoterism, he voted down my site (and the other site from other user).
      My site dont have adult content, dont sell anything, but it is marked like a scam site, with unethical articles.
      And there’s nothing I can do.

    12. RajaChanger said on September 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm
      Reply

      how to be verified on child safety rating ? what site is legal ?

    Leave a Reply