Welcome to the WOT blog. While this is our first post we have, quite astonishingly, been working on this project for almost a year already. And now we are finally taking the next step, and publishing the fruits and results of our work. These are interesting times we are living.
Our idea for WOT is quite simple. Or, it can also be a complex one, it depends on how you think about it and how deep into detail you want to go. We want the Internet to be a safer place for everyone, we want it to be more democratic, and to give everyone a chance to contribute to this objective.
How will we achieve this? Our idea is to form a reputation for websites based on user votes, or testimonies, as we like to call them. The concept is very simple, yet brilliant. Why a website would need a reputation, you may wonder. Think again.
There is a huge number of websites. Over 40 million active domain names according to some estimates. Clearly it is impossible to visit all of them. Most people have probably never even heard of most of them. When you surf to a new site, it is always hard to tell if the content of the site can be trusted. Nowadays, you may think that a site is trustworthy if it looks professional. Appearances do matter. But it is very easy to create the looks, or just copy a good layout from somebody else. The thing is, only when we use the services the website provides, we can find out if the site is trustworthy. "Oh, they did not send the goods I ordered? What can I do now?" This is learning the hard way. It does not sound very nice and you may lose a lot of money, too.
Eventually, these problems will lead to a web, where only the biggest and the most well-known sites are used. But this is not the way it should be. For example, there are thousands of web shops, which are perfectly honest but the occasional user can not know this and will buy only from the big players.
Brief history of WOT
How did we think to come up with WOT? Well, our company was founded by two university post-graduates from Finland, working earlier as researchers in the field of computer security and data mining. During our research we came up with the thought of creating a reputation system for the web.
Before rushing on to implement anything, we gave a lot of thought to different types of reputation systems. Quite thorough research was conducted; mainly by reading scientific articles but also by exploring the web. Most of the current possibilities for computing reputations are quite simple, but maybe not so efficient. Others are mathematically beautiful, but not very plausible to implement on this scale.
Finally, we formed the structure of our service. It consists of an add-on to a web browser and a centralized database for the reputations of websites. Using the browser add-on, users can easily give their testimony and also see the reputation right away in their browser. The testimony is then stored in the database, where the site’s reputation is computed based on the testimonies. We use complex algorithms for calculating the reputation, and also some other mathematical stuff to make it all work together. However, the user does not have to think of all this, as we aimed to make the user interface very simple.
We believe that by using our service people can form their own opinion of websites based on real information and informed decision making, not just appearances. This hopefully encourages you to explore the web more widely and allows you to have more confidence on the content of that unknown website you just found. On the other hand, you get a warning if the site should not be trusted. However, our service only gives you advice, you still have to make your own decisions. The beauty of our service is that the users form the reputation of a site, not some automated system or an untouchable authority.
Almost a year has passed since we made the decision to make a prototype of the service. Ever since the first version was completed, we have tested WOT diligently and developed it iteratively. No shortcuts to success have been taken. On the contrary, we have put in lots of hard work and thought into this.
Finally today, we are ready to publish the beta version of our service. We hope web users all over the world will find it useful. Please download our extension for Mozilla Firefox and let WOT make your web safer.