Crowdsourced Web Safety


By Tom Ledford | The Practical Computer ~


Web of Trust (WOT) is a unique, community powered website rating system. Global communities of millions of users rate websites for safety based upon their experience. The WOT browser plug in then uses a simple traffic light metaphor to warn you of potentially unsafe sites. It also allows you to add your rating for several criteria of safety.


I first came across WOT while searching for a way to help my Facebook friends know if a link is safe to follow. With Twitter, Bitly and other shortened URLs, there isn't any way to judge the trustworthiness of a website by its name or address.

When using WOT's browser add-on, their simple, traffic light style ratings show in search results and links posted to social media. The add-on is available for Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera.

Clicking on the WOT icon will display more information about the website's ratings.


Search results with WOT
Search results with WOT

Facebook post with WOT
Facebook post with WOT

WOT's ratings are more sophisticated than just survey results. When they consider a rating from any particular user, it is weighted in comparison to all the other ratings of that user. In other words, if the user has a tendency to rate every website poorly, that is taken into consideration when adding his ratings to the others for that site. That makes it very difficult to game the system.


Rating websites with WOT


If you would like to rate websites and add your opinion about a website's safety, you will need to sign up for a WOT account. Then you can click on the WOT browser add-on or extension button to add your rating to WOT's ratings database.

Rating a site with WOT
Rating a site with WOT

WOT doesn't block websites. It will display a warning if you browse to a site rated as unsafe, but you can choose to continue to the site.


WOT warning
WOT warning

I think WOT's best feature is displaying rating symbols beside links on social media posts, especially the ones shortened with bitly, tinyurl, etc. Shortening the url disguises the name of the site and makes it more difficult to know where it leads when clicked.  Oddly, although WOT will display rating symbols on Google search results pages, Twitter and Facebook, it does not on Google+.


WOT with Twitter
WOT with Twitter


WOT supports user ratings with third party information like blacklists of known phishing sites and sites known for malware.

WOT phishing warning
WOT phishing warning

As luck would have it, while I searched for a site that lists known URL shorteners, researching for this article, I came across the website shown above. It just so happened that I could use an example of WOT warning about a phishing website!

WOT for Developers and Website Owners


If you have a website or blog and would like to show website ratings for links on your site, you can use WOT's API, WordPress or Blogger widget. The WOT API also provides a way for developers to build applications using WOT user ratings data. 

You can also promote the use of WOT and help them with their goal to boost trust on the web by displaying a Friends of WOT badge on your blog or website. It is available in three different sizes --

      Friend of WOT      Friend of WOT      Friend of WOT

I have been using WOT for almost a year now. I use the Chrome extension and I couldn't be happier with the way it performs. I highly recommend using it, especially if you have children that use the Internet. It's child safety ratings can help you learn a lot about websites your children may come across.

Did I mention WOT is free? Well, it is! That may be its very best feature. If you would like to read more about WOT, or you want to download the add-on for your browser, you can do both here ~ https://www.mywot.com



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