This article is republished from the magazine and was written by Deborah Salmi from the Web of Trust based in Finland.

During a discussion with my 80 year old Aunt Pansy about her genealogy research online, she asked “How can I tell if a website is safe?” My 70 year old mother answered immediately, “That’s easy. You need WOT.” She waved her hand towards me and said, “Tell her about Web of Trust, Deborah,” and proceeded to explain how easy it is to download WOT and how it shows you if a site is trustworthy or not with colored symbols. Mom directed me to get my laptop and show my aunt how WOT icons appear next to the links on Google search results. With gray heads together, they looked at the screen while mom continued to explain. Aunt Pansy was convinced and promised to tell her local computer guru about WOT and have him install it on her machine.

“How can I tell if a website is safe?” is a question that many Internet users have. Web of Trust, or WOT for short, can help answer it. WOT is an add-on for your browser that you can download for free. The traffic-light style reputation icons tell you how much other people trust a website. You’ll see them on Google, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Facebook, and many other popular sites on the web. When you see reputation ratings, you can make informed decisions on what sites to use and which ones to steer clear of.

WOT protects against technical and non-technical online threats by combining real user ratings from WOT members with information from third-party trusted sources, which makes it unique to other security solutions. The ratings are based on four components: Trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety.
As a WOT member, you can take part in making the web safer by reviewing and rating sites that you know and have visited. If you don’t have opinions in all four rating components, rate just the components that you want and leave the others unrated.

To take advantage of WOT’s crowd-sourced reputation ratings when you surf the web, all you have to do is download the free browser add-on. The WOT add-on is available for IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari.

You can find it here, http://www.mywot.com/download.

How It Works

The add-on places a reputation icon in the browser toolbar. You can rate sites yourself directly in the add-on. You can also visit the website’s scorecard to see more information and read comments.

WOT Add-on

A WOT icon shows you the reputation rating for sites on search results:

search results

When you hover your mouse over the reputation rating in search results, you see the rating for each component. This site has a terrible reputation with WOT users, so it’s one you would want to avoid.

mouse hover

For more detailed information about a site’s reputation, visit its scorecard. You’ll find additional information from trusted sources and other user’s comments. You can also rate the site and add your own comments.

WOT scorecard

Deborah Salmi is WOT’s Chief Marketing Officer and spends her time telling people how they can be safe on the web. Deborah’s mother and Aunt Pansy are also big WOT fans.

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One Comment

  1. Lochgelly

    August 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Most of our volunteers use the WOT add-on and we personally recommend this tool as one of the ledaing online safety tools to help you make better informed choices of what sites are safe to visit.

    You may already be familiar with the features of WOT via Facebook and also this site. Anytime we post articles with an external link, you will see the WOT circle in action.

    We use WOT for blogs and highly recommend the plugin to other WordPress users – http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wot-for-blogs/

    Reply

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