It has come to my attention that the Web of Trust ratings for this site are highly innacurate, defamatory and flawed. WOT's ratings for Humor Etc as of this writing are as follows:

  • Trustworthiness: 41/100
  • Vendor Reliability: 40/100
  • Privacy: 37/100
  • Child Safety: 29/100

Let me address these issues one by one, using WOT's definition for each of the above terms.

Trustworthiness reflects the overall trustworthiness of a website: Do you consider this site safe to use? Does this site deliver you what it promises? Do you trust the content of the website? A poor rating may indicate Internet scams, identity theft risks, credit card fraud, phishing, viruses, adware or spyware. The site may contain annoying advertisements, excessive pop-ups or content that makes your browser crash. A poor rating may also indicate that the site’s content is not trustworthy.

This is a humor site for crying out loud. How can a joke, humorous story, funny picture, cartoon or YouTube video be untrustworthy? Sources for the odd news stories are respected media outlets such as Reuters, The London Daily Telegraph, UPI, etc. There are no pop-up advertisements. The only places for user input are for the daily newsletter (via Feedburner/Google) or the contact form (Humor Etc's actual email address is provided on the page for those wish to email manually).

As far as malware and viruses go I'd like to point out that I was one of the beta-testers for the Panda Cloud Antivirus and have used it ever since. It, or any other antivirus or anti-malware software has never created an alert on my site. Furthermore, I was also a beta-tester for CloudFlare, which has protected the site and its visitors since September 2010. CloudFlare will even alert a site visitor if there is a security threat on their own computer.

And here's some info from folks who keep track of websites with malware and viruses:

Vendor Reliability tells you whether the site is safe for buying and selling or for business transactions in general. An "excellent" rating indicates superior customer service, timely delivery of products or services and overall customer satisfaction. A "poor" rating indicates possible fraud or a bad shopping experience.

Humor Etc and its predecessor, Humoretcetera have never sold anything. Like a lot of sites, Humor Etc has third-party ads for the most part through Google Adsense, Amazon, and eBay. WOT gives this site a reliability rating of 40. Let's compare that to reliabilty ratings WOT gives Humor Etc's current advertisers:

Bit of a discrepancy there wouldn't you say? Site gets a 40 but actual advertisers get between 81-95. It's pretty obvious to me that WOT's raters can't tell the difference between an e-commerce site and a site that runs third-party ads. This is one fatal flaw in Web of Trust's ratings. Sites that don't sell anything should not even be rated.

Privacy tells you whether the site has a privacy policy that protects your personal identity and data. For example, does the social networking service you use give you the means to determine what is public and what remains private? Does the site have opt-in privacy options? A “poor" rating indicates concern that your data may be sold to 3rd parties, be stored indefinitely or be turned over to law enforcement without a warrant, etc.

Well, let's see. My site does have a quite comprehensive Privacy Policy that can be found here. Pretty standard stuff found in a lot of sites' Privacy Policy. As stated earlier the only user interaction required on my site is if you want to subscribe to the newsletter or use the contact form. There are no comment forms, polls, etc. Humor Etc is hand-coded static HTML and uses no software.

Child safety indicates if the site contains age-inappropriate material. This includes mature content meant for adults: Content depicting nudity, sexual content, violence, vulgar or hateful language or content that encourages dangerous or illegal activities.

This is one of those 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' type things. While my site is not intended for children I must point out that there is nothing on it more objectionable than what can be found on on prime time broadcast television.

How did this come about, you ask? I have no idea. The only two comments on Humor Etc's WOT Reputation Scorecard page are mine (as of this wriing). Web of Trust offers no evidence to justify its ratings whatsoever. I did help defend another site whose WOT ratings were similarly 'adjusted' a few months ago. Frequent visitors to that site went to Web of Trust's forum to right the wrong and were rewarded with the site getting even lower ratings. I have also read other horror stories of website owners being 'fed to the lions' in WOT's forums. For this reason I decided to make my case here on my own site in the public eye.

What about legal action? Here's Web of Trust's defense strategy in a case filed against in Florida late last year:

If the case goes to court, WOT's advocacy will be based on the Communications Decency Act (article CDA 230), legislated in 1996 for similar cases. The article protects Internet service providers from liabilities related to content created by third parties....Source

Or, in other words, WOT is claiming ISP status and therefore considers itself immune from any legal action since its members who rate the sites are 'third parties'. It would take a considerable sum of money to fight them in court and Humor Etc is a non-profit hobby.

I've written this post to take my case to the public. I'll be damned if I let some Johnny-come-lately wannabe censors destroy my website after putting in over six years of hard work into it without a fight.

Blair Shorney
[email protected]


In case anyone thinks that I 'doctored' my site to make it look more innocent before posting this here's its entire history from the Internet Archive:

Screen capture of Humor Etc's WOT Reputation Scorecard as of this writing: