MYWOT Web Of Trust Review: Modern Web Totalitarianism
MyWot.com can’t be trusted! It’s as simple as that. The scariest part is that (god knows how) they managed to make a private deal with Facebook that is now using their data to block links to certain website. The system mywot.com have in place is nothing more than a modern web-adaptation of fascism. Let’s take a look at the definition of fascism from Wikipedia before I get bashed by their brain-washed fan-base.
Fascism is a radical, authoritarian nationalist political ideology. It advocates the creation of a totalitarian single-party state that seeks the mass mobilization of a nation through indoctrination, physical education, and family policy. […]
It all started a couple days ago as I was browsing blogs in the affiliate marketing niche. My attention got caught by a post by Jonathan Volk. Apparently, his website has been extremely badly rated by MyWot users.
Being a regular reader of Jonathan’s blog, I decided to dig a little further into this post. How could an upfront guy like him could get bad reviews on his blog (that helped so many people getting started in affiliation)? How could a website that allows defamation, could at the same time make a deal with Facebook? Well, here is what I discovered.
Where it started: Jonathan’s Father’s Site
All of this started because of Jonathan’s father’s e-commerce website. It received some extremely bad rating on MyWot.com starting in 2008 or 2009. The funny thing is that from what I read in the comments posted by MyWot users, they actually do not judge the site on itself, nor on the service he is providing but based on some information they gathered from other websites… There comes my first doubt…
How can you rate a site as being “
Very Poor” regarding “
Vendor Reliability“, “
Privacy” and “
Child Safety” if you didn’t experience the service yourself? I mean, even a sceptical would say that you can rank it “
Poor” regarding “
Trustworthiness” if you don’t believe in the product that is being sold, but what about “
Vendor Reliability” if you never bought from the Vendor? What about “
Privacy” if all you did was visit 2 pages on the site? (how do you know that the webmaster does not respect your privacy?) and about “
Child Safety” just let me laugh… Jonathan’s father’s site sells some On Demand Hydrogen Generators for cars and trucks, it’s not a sex addict’s den.
The Upscaling: Discovering Whois, Screwing Whole Server
At this point, a MyWot.com member who apparently really didn’t like Jonathan’s father’s e-commerce website decided that it was not enough to get it blacklisted, but it would also be fun to get all the domains on the same server blacklisted. Because you never know…
It’s the kind of behavior that says: “There are some ants in the backyard, let’s use a bazooka to kill them all“. And who cares if we also destroy the neighbor’s yard, and kill him, his wife, his kids and his dog?
Based on his clever discovery of what is a domain Whois, all the websites on the server started receiving extremely bad ratings, including Jonathan’s blog.
MyWot/Facebook deal: What The Hell is Facebook Thinking?
It could have stayed that way if MyWot had stayed where it was: in a dark corner of the internet where no-one gives a damn about what they are saying. But thanks to a god-knows-how deal, MyWot is now used by Facebook to block links to allegedly spammy/scammy websites. And these links are supposed to be blocked not only in people’s posts, but also in Facebook Ads.
The funny part is that you can see that the bad ratings are given by about 10-15 persons. Which means that an organized group of less than 20 persons can sink a whole small business by crushing its reputation on MyWot. At this point, I started wondering what people could do if the system was gamed and they were falsely accused of being scammers.
What I discovered scared me even more! (Here comes the part about fascism).
MyWot: Modern Web Fascism
On MyWot, people votes have weight. Said like that, it could sound like an awesome idea to prevent people from quickly registering thousands of accounts and trying to change site’s rating. But it has a huge drawback: once a spammer is established and decides to screw you, you can’t save yourself.
Here is an extract of MyWot FAQ titled “How reliable are the ratings?”:
The short version is that the system analyzes each user’s rating behavior from several aspects in order to determine their reliability. When you start using WOT, your ratings have little weight, but if you keep rating sites consistently, your ratings will be considered more reliable over time. The meritocratic nature of the system makes it far more difficult for spammers to abuse, because bots will have a hard time simulating human behavior over a long period of time.
Bye bye democracy!
What if a single individual or a small organized group decides to use MyWot to its advantage. All you have to do is create 10 to 20 accounts. Rate a huge number of websites on a daily basis and soon enough you will reach a god-like status where nobody will be able to balance your votes. Of course, you have to post average votes on a regular basis to avoid being red flagged until you reach a certain level of trust. But once you reach this level, there is little that small business owners can do to defend themselves against you.
MyWot: Power-User Proof Of Concept “g7w”
Ok, I see you coming and telling me that they must have safe-locks in place to prevent abuse. So I just took a look at the account of a guy who was pretty cocky in MyWot forums and being a total lesson-giver (people I despise the most). It ended up being a really good pick since he has received a lot of “
Awards” from MyWot thanks to his activity. He has “
Scam Buster Award 2009“, “
Top Member Award 2009” and “
Top Member Award 2010“. I assume he is a good example of a power-user of MyWot.
So, his profile, that you can find here, also lists a few other information. I learned that he joined in November 2008 (for the sake of the demonstration we’ll assume he joined on November 1st): 1034 days ago (on the day I wrote this post). We also learn that he posted an impressive 697,873 reviews and 727,290 comments. Erm… Well… Almost too impressive… That means that he posted an average of 675 reviews per day as well as 703 comments per day. Yeah, you read that right: 675 reviews and 703 comments PER DAY. And this is for almost 3 years in a row! This guy must be a voting machine, he got some skills!
At this point, I assume you have as many doubts as I do about MyWot reliability regarding bot detection. But let’s assume that he didn’t use a bot and was actually able to post so many reviews and comments.
How many websites do you visit per day? I mean, really visit, not only seeing the homepage and moving away. Do you order 675 products per day? Do you actively visit 675 websites/forums/blogs per day? Well, this guy does! At least, I assume he does since he posts reviews of all of them and he would certainly not judge all these books by their covers… Would he?
Moreover, he does visit so many websites PLUS his regular websites since all these votes were casted for different websites… That’s 246,375 different websites per year!
MyWot Fraud: Power-Users Moderate The Forum
All the attacks against Jonathan’s business made me react and I registered an account with MyWot just to reply to some of the accusations by the platinum member “g7w”. I took some time to elaborate my reply in several bullet points, each one being a reaction to some wrongly-interpreted facts in “g7w” post. After 30 minutes of building my reply, I posted it to MyWot.
24 hours later, I went back to MyWot forum to check if there was a reply to my post. To my surprise, my post had been moderated (read “deleted”)… by “g7w”! Apparently, being a platinum member doesn’t only give a lot of weight to his votes, but it also allows him to moderate himself the posts to MyWot. Even if the posts are replies to his wrongly-built accusations! Doesn’t that sound a little like a conflict of interest to you?
So, a power-user can literally crash a business’ reputation by posting horrible rates even if he doesn’t have any real experience with the given website, then he can moderate whoever does not agree with him and demonstrate that his demonstration is full of mistakes…
MyWot Encourages Spam From Its Users
MyWot is claimed to be fighting against spam and scams with their rating system, so how would you explain that they encourage their own users to use spam?
It has come to my atention that MyWot encourages its platinum users to use spam by mass-rating websites. Yeah you read that right: mass-rating websites, 100 at a time.
They are offering a mass rating tool that allows the users to leave the same rate and the exact same comment to websites by bulk of 100. That’s a great idea to artificially inflate the activity of the site (by giving the impression that a lot of users are reviewing a lot of sites manually) but it doesn’t encourage people to really experiment with a website before they rate it.
The extremely funny part is that they are using a variables in their mass-rating tool to give the impression that each comment was posted manually. Here is an extract from their own wiki:
To enable your comments to be more precise or to appear more “personal” a variable has been introduced for use in the comment section.
The important word there is “appear”. They want the comments to appear as if they were crafted exclusively for the given website, hence deceiving the other users and making them believe that they had real first-hand experience with the website.
MyWot Scam: Need More Proof? Top Rated Sites
Ok, I’ll assume you’re a sceptical and still think that the proof I exposed so far was not enough… Here is a last one that should end convincing you: Most popular websites in the last 30 days. You can see a screenshot below just in case MyWot decides to game the system too.
The top 3 is no surprise since Facebook.com, Google.com and Youtube.com are among the most websites visited worldwide. But my attention got caught by the sites number 10 to 15… Yandex.ru, Vkontakte.ru, e.Mail.ru, Odnoklassniki.ru and Mail.ru. I’m sorry if I have any russian readers, but russians are not exactly known online for being your friendly reviewer… *cough* spam *cough*.
If you compare this top 20 to the top sites on Alexa regarding worldwide traffic you’ll see some interesting differencies that might raise a few eyebrows, and make you doubt MyWot has the global appeal it wishes to have.
MyWot Staff: Anonymity As A Security Measure
So, up to this point, I showed that MyWot is a giant anonymous trolling party, but what about their website itself and the company behind it?
For a website so involved in “making things right” for the average internet user, I find it pretty amusing that they do not display any contact form, email address or telephone number on their website. The only thing available is a mail address in Helsinki, Finland.
What internet-based company is using only mail to be contacted?? Maybe someone is a little afraid of having to reply to angry websites owners all day long on the phone? But anyway, every legit internet-business which cares at least a little about its users have a contact form or a contact email address available.
Or maybe there is another reason to it…
MyWot Trick: Artificially Inflating User-base
Since their is no contact form anywhere on the site, the only “online” option you have to reach the company is to register an account in their forum. But instead of receiving replies from the company employees, you get replies from the exact same trolls that trashed your business previously, and let me tell you that you won’t EVER see one of their users having an opinion different from the rest of the pack.
Their model is in place: a few die-hard members who spam-vote sites and a crowd of sheeps who are following the votes of the platinum members in order to grow their own reputation (since to increase their own trust and weight, they have to vote like the rest of the pack). They target small businesses with potential following and tell them to defend themselves by asking their fans to register and vote the site up even if they perfectly know that the votes will have absolutely no weight (even if there are hundreds of them) compared to the ones of their premium users.
It artificially grows their user-base since these 1 time voters obviously are not going to be regular users of their tool. And if the response rate is too big and risks to expose their manipulations, they disable comments voting system to make sure their haters’ comments stay on top (comments order is then decided by user-level, so platinum members comments are always on top) and keep fueling the hate .
MyWot Users: Anonymity As A Defamation Tool
I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that MyWot users are completely anonymous, and apparently I am not the only one since they answer this concern in their own faq:
If all ratings were public, users might be reluctant to rate certain sites, because it would reveal to everyone they have actually visited them.
So, if I understand correctly, people do not assume the fact that they visit a website, but they can trash it if they want?
In my opinion, keeping user’s identities private is only encouraging defamation. If these guys were thinking that what they are doing is 100% right, they wouldn’t need to hide behind nicknames. They would stand up and be proud of what they are doing. Instead of that, they hide themselves and troll. That’s immature and that’s 100% unreliable. This system allows any business to trash their competition or any other website anonymously.
If you think about it in another way, for MyWot, keeping trolls hidden behind nicknames is a 100% win situation. As I already explained they force people to signup to MyWot if they want to defend themselves, so the more trolling and defamation, the more their account number increases. Secondly, it creates controversy, which is one of the greatest hooks to get attention to a website. And lastly, once someone finally steps up and sue them for defamation, they hide behind the law that says that MyWot is just a Host and can’t be held responsible for their user’s claims.
To sum it up, users have a feeling of impunity since they are hidden in anonymity so they trash websites on a daily basis, and if things turn wrong with a lawsuit, MyWot company is benefiting from impunity since they do not hold any responsibility for the content of their own website. Clever!
MyWot Experiment: How Long Until I Get Trashed For This Post?
Now just wait a few days/weeks until some of MyWot’s extremists discover my site and kill my reputation. There will be no better proof that MyWot is rigged since right now, Dukeo doesn’t have a bad reputation on their website. See for yourself.
Update: I must thank MyWot users for perfectly demonstrating my point: it took only 17 hours for Dukeo to get a “Bad Reputation” only based on this article. Now, explain to me why I have a bad “Vendor Reliability” when I am not selling any product? What is the problem with “Privacy” on my site where I don’t even use any cookies? And what about “Child Safety” issues? MyWot is rigged and you just confirmed it, thank you.
Update2: By checking my company website Dukeo Media, it appears that once again, MyWot used their Whois Skills to rate poorly the domains hosted on the same server. I know for sure that I have never done any business with someone using MyWot simply because I have never signed any private contract with another company. MyWot lies are exposed once again.
Hey don’t worry, you can always buy one of Web Of Trust Seals for as low as 529.95€ per year… Did I hear extortion somewhere in the back? A “trust” website that can be bought? I love capitalism!
That’s just a shame that Facebook gave its trust to MyWot, a website where the system can be gamed by a small group of people with bad intentions which can literally break small businesses’ reputation in the blink of an eye. Now when you’re hearing of Web Of Trust, don’t think “reliance“, but think “monopoly“.