The new WOT improves the transparency in user ratings

The new WOT
is now released and will be gradually updated to all WOT users with Chrome, Firefox or Chromium-based browsers. Safari version is coming out soon. The new WOT comes with multiple nice improvements and I encourage everyone to read the highlights
. I would also like to elaborate a bit more on our thinking behind the new features.

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The mission of WOT is to make Internet both safer and more relevant to our users and business partners. The way we accomplish this goal is by providing them unique information about the websites. The notion of “website” is not only the physical website but also the organisations and individuals behind them. We seek to help both individuals and organisations to decide if they should engage with a certain website and if they decide to do so, what should they know. In a way we want to be a “Trusted Guide” for people navigating the Internet.

While the goal is relatively simple there’s quite a bit of complexity in implementation – different individuals and businesses have different criteria for deciding if they are willing to engage with a website. Most people would agree it’s a bad idea to purchase a ticket to the Olympics game from a suspicious ticket office that may sell you an invalid ticket. However if we think about tracking of people’s surfing behavior for the purpose of targeting advertising we start to see differences in opinions. Some people are willing to accept that as a price of free Internet services and more relevant ads while some people find the whole concept of 3rd party tracking totally unacceptable. Thus it’s not always easy to provide a simple “Trustworthy” or “Untrustworthy” rating for a website. In the new WOT we have focused on new ways of providing people with useful information that will help them in deciding whether to trust a site or not.

The key theme in new WOT is improved transparency. We wanted to add more depth to the Trustworthiness rating score by adding a new concept of “Categories” and further developing the commenting feature. Categories and comments help WOT users, and also web site owners, to better understand reasons why a website have a certain Trustworthiness rating. That enables users to then decide for themselves if the benefits of using the website outweigh the potential risks or issues.

In the first phase the new “Categories” feature is focusing more on the potential issues and risks related to the website. Based on the feedback, users of WOT wanted to first and foremost understand better the reasons for a website having a bad reputation. It’s partially driven by the need of more information to make that personal decision regarding the site, but there is also an expectation that if someone is rating a website ‘Untrustworthy’ then they should also make an effort to explain the reason. It’s a matter of fair assessment of the site and ability for the site owner to engage in dialogue with the people who have rated the site.

“User comments” is not a new feature but we have implemented a number of improvements to make it easier to both write and read the comments. Comments serve the same purpose as the new “Categories” feature in adding depth to the ratings, again especially for the sites that are rated Untrustworthy. Well-written comments provide details and evidence on the potential issues and risks and help users to make personal decision about whether to visit a site or not. In the absence of well-written comments some users may be prone to disregard the site rating especially if they do not agree with it.

You can expect to see further advances with the key themes described above in the upcoming releases. A new theme that we will introduce in the near future aims to further increase the participation of WOT community to rate the websites. We believe more opinions means better coverage of the websites and more insightful observations about them – and a safer Internet for everyone!

Markus, CEO

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