Web of Trust improves rating system, launches extension updates

Martin Brinkmann
Sep 27, 2013
Updated • Sep 28, 2013

Web of Trust is a highly popular community driven website rating system. It rates websites based on the accumulated reviews and ratings of its user base. While that may sound like a great idea, and it is in general, it sometimes led to legit websites being rated negatively by some users of the service.

These ratings affected websites negatively, mostly because the Web of Trust software itself would warn its users from loading the site in the browser. While some negative ratings are placed with malicious intent, for instance by competing webmasters, others were placed in error by users who did not really understand how the rating system worked.

Web of Trust users had to rate a site's trustworthiness, the vendor reliability, privacy and child safety. The company announced a major redesign of its rating scheme which has been released in the last couple of days on the website itself, and also in form of browser extension updates.

Web of Trust Update

web of trust ratings

The new rating scheme requires only two scores instead of four that the previous required. Trustworthiness and child safety ratings remain, while the other two have been removed. The questions have been optimized as well, so that it is clearer what users rate.

A second step has been added to the rating process. Users need to select at least one category that describes or supports the rating they have given the site. These are sorted into positive/neutral, questionable, and negative groups.

web of trust update

The effect here is that ratings are more transparent in nature since raters need to link their ratings with at least one category that supports the rating. While this does not take care of malicious raters, it reduces the chance of misleading or erroneous ratings by users who had issues with the previous rating system. It is still possible to leave a comment when you review a website.

Websites can be checked directly on the Web of Trust website, which can be useful for webmasters who want to check out how their sites are rated, and for users who want to check websites when they do not have the extension installed.

The comment system has been modified as well. Previously, the comment with the highest rating was displayed in the top position. This is not necessarily the case anymore on the redesigned site. Other factors, the number of downvotes, the age of the comment, the comment length or internal signals, play a role as well now to improve the order in which comments are displayed on the site.

The Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari extensions have been updated so far. Existing users should receive the update automatically, while new users can download the add-ons from their browser's web store directly.

Note: You do not need to create an account to use the extension. You can skip the second step of the post-installation wizard by clicking on the title of the third. Some functionality won't be available to you then though.

Closing Words

The removal of two of the four ratings may certainly look like a step backward, but the two removed criteria have been integrated into the new category system. It is for instance possible to select "poor customer experience", "privacy risks" or "online tracking" here which can be used to rate a website positively or negatively in this regard. It looks to be a change for the better all in all.


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  1. Marcus G said on September 30, 2013 at 2:45 am

    WOT is worse than useless as it is either thoroughly manipulated or assists corporations to create false rating for competitors. In my research, I’m more than satisfied that WOT allows concerted disinformation campaigns, particularly to benefit pharmaceutical companies. How can sites have unsafe ratings when all feedback is positive?

  2. TheRube said on September 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm


    BRAVO to Malwarebytes Anti-Malware!!!

    It truly Works.

    ‘Nuff Said!

  3. Straspey said on September 28, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I have been using the Pro version of Malwarebytes AntiMalware which includes an option to “Block Malicious Websites” in real time, if you choose to turn that feature on – which I do.

    The software will not just give a warning about a potentially malicious website – but rather it will preemptively block the connection. Since the software is specifically designed to catch, prevent and clean malware, I have found it to be the most effective protection tool regarding my web browsing activities.

    I looked at WOT very briefly, however it gave me the impression of being more of a “social community” than a trustworthy tool to rely upon for this type of protection.

  4. Xmetalfanx said on September 28, 2013 at 5:21 am

    I stopped using WOT (Though I practice safe browsing anyway) after (the one in this post is just one of my sites/mirrors) when it kept trying to block me from going to “average” sites. One issue that I found is that if one person is using a host and THAT site gets rated bad, the entire “host” gets a lower rating, instead of just the page with the content. I mean I know this could lead to a “runaway blacklist of sites” (which is why i like the whitelist approach like on RequestPolicy or NoScript (Firefox addons) … block EVERYTHING and add things to allow)

    I am not saying I will not give WOT another shot sometime, though I do not feel I really need it. As I said it kept telling me almost any host I used for my sites, that they were “all red rated” and I “probably shouldn’t go there” .. .I know that this probably turned off people going to my site that had been using WOT…. because someone that used the same webhost’s site got a bad rating, that marks my site “as bad” too.


  5. geoff said on September 28, 2013 at 2:31 am

    I gave up on WOT about a year ago when I started seeing it used far too often as a tool of censorship (mainly political & religious). It seems that there is a large volume of users who will slam sites with negative ratings just because they hold & promote viewpoints that differ from what the WOT trolls think the entire world should believe.
    WOT was once an effective tool to protect oneself from real dangers on the internet. Unfortunately, over time it’s become more & more abused by the self-appointed thought police. And I don’t think any changes WOT makes can fix that problem simply because the ratings system is open to all without any realistic way for the abusers to be banned.

    1. Xmetalfanx said on September 28, 2013 at 5:26 am

      Good Point. I do also agree WOT was once a good option, though (due to abuse from certain users) it has lost credibility (I guess that’s the word i am looking for) to me. A users can rate a site bad and not give any real reason ….. I guess its a (for the site) “Guilty until proven innocent” type thing


  6. Dante said on September 28, 2013 at 12:58 am

    I’m always leary of sending my activities to a third party. Like with WOT. I prefer to use VMware when browsing unknown sites.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on September 28, 2013 at 1:13 am

      It definitely has issues, especially that it relies solely on user ratings, and that I would not necessarily trust the majority of Internet users to determine whether a site is trustworthy or not.

      1. EuroSceptiC.GRE said on September 28, 2013 at 3:19 am

        Then why you post and keep promoting the “status quo” of users installing crapware on their PCs that only will slow down browsing and leak a lot of info to WOT owners etc…

        Nothing personal, just a “healthy” question…

      2. Martin Brinkmann said on September 28, 2013 at 9:15 am

        It is a review, not a promotion. I’m not telling anyone to go ahead and install the software, and try my best to highlight both sides of the medal.

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