Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't think that the actions of one person do not make a difference

I use a Firefox add-on called WOT for Web of Trust. They rate web sites on four criteria: trustworthyness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety. Green means the web site is good to go; yellow means caution; and red means stop, danger here. Most of the time, the sites I visit are green. Yesterday, I was surprised to encounter two sites that had lower ratings.

  • Tegrity was marked as an unsafe web site by Web of Trust (WOT) (yellow for trustworthy, red for vendor reliability and respecting of privacy, with no rating for child-safety).
  • The WOT rating for Echo360 is trustworthy, but also has a red rating for vendor reliability and respecting of privacy.
These ratings are disturbing, but I like their products. I went to the WOT web site to ask them about the ratings.

I wrote to WOT about the Tegrity and Echo360 ratings and received the following reply from Sami, a representative at WOT:
"It seems that has a poor rating, because one of our information sources believes their products have been spam-advertised in the past. However, we have no other evidence of this, so it's plausible that this is a false positive. I have removed the false positive from our database and the site's rating should improve shortly.

"It looks like has been reported of spamming last spring by a couple of our sources. The company is now called Echo360, Inc. and some of links direct to the domain instead. Again, this might be caused by a one-time mailing instead of a larger campaign.

"As you can see, email marketing is a very touchy subject for many Internet users these days, and sending out unsolicited messages is an excellent way to quickly hurt one's reputation. That's probably because the spam problem is getting worse each year. Even though companies like Google do a great job filtering out most of the junk, over 90% of all email traffic this year has been spam:

"If you have any further questions, please let us know."
So, one person's action (mine) resulted in the change of rating for both companies. Tegrity's ratings were all changed to green. Since Echo360 had been reported by a couple of sources, their ratings on reliability and privacy were changed from red to yellow.

I plan to write WOT again because it seems to me that they are linking vendor reliability and privacy policy to spamming. Vendor reliability should have more to do with their delivery of their products and the quality of their products. I think that since spamming is so critical, there should be a separate rating that would reflect advertising methods.

While I was at it, I also mentioned that many of the links in the ALA (American Library Association)'s newsletter indicate a yellow rating for the first three categories with no rating for child safety. Here is Sami's reply:
All the links in the newsletter you sent us point to a server called . The domains and are owned by a company called eWayDirect, which sells email marketing and tracking services to many companies. Unfortunately, they also do business with spammers. You can read some of the abuse reports here:*+ewaydirect
I like WOT's service. I like how responsive they are. I want to help them improve their service.


Diver Deb said...

Hi Marjorie,
It’s been over a year since you wrote about your experiences with Web of Trust. In the next few weeks, WOT will release version 3 which includes a new scorecard that reveals the reasons behind the reputation ratings of websites. I hope that you will find the new information useful and pass it along to your friends and administrators.

As a former instructional technology specialist in the GA school system, I wish that our county would have had something like this in addition to content filters. I think the kids (and teachers) would have benefited from the guidance WOT gives, instead of the total blocking that filters provide.

Web of Trust

Marjorie said...

Thanks, Debbie. Note that my post was not over a year ago, but made in December of 2007, about 4 or 5 months ago.