Use Web of Trust (WOT) to thwart scammy web sites

My friend Shannon Phillips recently updated her Facebook status with:

Word to travelers: do not book hotel rooms through TripAdvisor. They will funnel you through sketchy third-party sites (“Amoma” is the one who burned me) who advertise made-up rates, take your money, and then get back in touch two weeks later to tell you oopsie, they can’t make a reservation at that hotel after all.

I guess it’s a nice scam while it lasts, but in this age of networked, instant word-of-mouth reviews, that kind of business model won’t hold up long.

I suggested Shannon try installing the Web of Trust (WOT) plug-in for her browser. I use it in all of mine, and it’s stopped scam sites from being loaded into my browser.

WOT works for the web like Waze works for driving. Here’s the explanation from the Web of Trust home page:

WOT displays a colored traffic light next to website links to show you which sites people trust for safe searching, surfing and shopping online: green for good, red for bad, and yellow as a warning to be cautious. The icons are shown in popular search engine results, social media, online email, shortened URL’s, and lots of other sites.

The cool part is, the rating is based on the aggregate ratings of all of the people who use a plug-in. Get burned by a site? Click the WOT icon and rate the site as untrustworthy. Have an excellent experience? Click the WOT icon and rate the site as trustworthy. The more that people use it, the more accurate and reliable the ratings become.

If a site is really untrustworthy, WOT will stop your browser from loading the site unless you tell it that you really want to go to that site. You can still go anywhere you want, but you’ll be warned about sites that others have had problems with.

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