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SiteAdvisor - Next Generation

JOIN THE REVIEWERS FORUM

Pharmalert: In the absence of any official discussion forum for Site Advisor reviewers, I have been running a forum for Experienced or Reputation level 9 Site Advisor reviewers for over a year now. The forum has a number of registered people who discuss issues, and put together proposals to the McAfee Site Advisor liaison staff. We have had excellent responses to some of the concerns raised, and we are pleased to see that the problems are known and being addressed. If you fit the stated criteria, apply for membership at the email address SiteAdvisorForum {at} gmail.com
3 Replies
Highlighted

RE: SiteAdvisor - Next Generation

CRITICS AND WISHES

"If they do not rate this one [404dnspage.com] red soon...then I am abandoing siteadvisor.
This thing is like a sinking ship, shame, seeing as it had so much potential. Mcafee have thrown siteadvisor to the dogs."
omgnoob, June 2, 2008, Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"In any case, our suggestions are not even revolutionary dreams, only
simple improvements that could/should have been done years ago.
And now, it's long overdue. Shall we really wait another year..?"
Phantazm, May 24, 2008, Experienced Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"Some things I would like to see in SiteAdvisor
1) A reviewers lounge (forum for SA reviewers and staff to discuss the service)
2) More prompt response to Red/Green reviews
3) A dramatically improved forum system, including the ability to edit posts, to attach images (for evidence)
and a "Report Post" feature to alert moderators (who don't currently exist, it seems) to a spammy or idiotic post.
4) When a domain name changes both ownership and purpose, all data associated with it should be removed.
SeanW, May 22, 2008, Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"It is as if the hard work of these unpaid volunteers is treated as worthless by McAfee management."
"Rapid and decisive action is required to salvage Site Advisor before it is too late and it disappears from view."
"Doing nothing, delaying remediation, these are not options."
Pharmalert, May 13 2008, Experienced Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"A genius group of engineers started a good project 'SiteAdvisor' to make the web safer. On 5th April 2006 all these changed as they announced that SiteAdvisor was acquired by McAfee, Inc. A good project under a leading security technology would have made a huge difference but after seeing the current ratings it is sad to see that the project is going down. The main purpose of the project is to give information in-order to help user be safe while browsing but with lots of false negatives the purpose of the project is dishonored. Time and time again we have seen many malware/spyware distributing sites, scam/fraud sites given a safe rating. If you have followed the ratings of malicious sites lately you would agree with my view. I emailed the concerned group with the list of wrongly rated sites two weeks back and no response from the team and majority of the sites are still rated safe. Reviewers spend time to hunt down malicious sites and write up reviews giving the reason why it’s not safe and reference links to justify the rating. SiteAdvisor staff doesn’t take any information complied by the reviewers and after a few days plant a green rating. Is this what we expect after we put effort to hunt down malicious sites? I still like the idea behind SiteAdvisor and I think if the user gets to check the reviewers comment and stop purchasing/downloading form scam/fraud site then the work what we do is paid off. On a second thought is it worth posting reviews on SiteAdvisor?"
Sparsha, may 20, 2008, Experienced Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"Lately I have been getting this awkward, recurring feeling of wasting my time.
I do hope that McAfee can pull its act together, and soon."
Lordpake, May 14, 2008, Experienced Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"I am starting to feel the same way as some of the other top reviewers here.
Mcafee bought Siteadvisor and is starting to let it go.
It's really just the reviewers that make it what it is."
ColoradoChris, May 14, 2008, Experienced Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"It's beginning to seem to me that some spammers are now taking advantage of the SA green ratings.
The following domains are somewhat old and have been reviewed before, but seem to have been activated lately again.
And they are all green: expressmediroad.com + meds-seasonal-sale.com + one-of-the-finest.com + only4-our-health.com + saleonallmeds.com + soothing-rx.com + leoloy.com"
Nodus, May 11, 2008, Experienced Reviewer, Reputation 9 / 9.

"What top reviewer dean says. It is downright dangerous to depend on SiteAdvisor's ratings.
I find Mcafee is doing a sloppy job here, unworthy to its well-deserved reputation in the AV business."
Tammo, May 12 2008, Reviewer, Reputation: 7 / 9.

"This is no way that I can, in good conscience, recommend SiteAdvisor.
Lately, the proliferation of green ratings for sites that distribute
well-documented rogue software or obvious scams leave me no choice.
It is downright dangerous to depend on SiteAdvisor's ratings."
Dean, May 3, 2008, Experienced Reviewer, Highest Reputation: 9 / 9.

And more than a year ago it sounded remarkably alike:

"Même démarche que 'Nutsy' : ce qu'on fait ici ne sert ?* rien, McAfee nous utilise uniquement pour sa PUB, et non pour nous aider ?* lutter contre la Cybercriminalité et protéger les internautes. On se fout de nous. Je neutralise "SiteAdvisor", et ne contribuerai pas ?* l'image positive de McAfee !!!!!!! Bye !"
MARGUET, March 22, 2007, Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"SiteAdvisor completely ignores user Rating inputs.
Multiple sites have received SPAM or other Fraud reports,
often several dozen over the period of months, with no change in their Rating. I'm done..."
Nutsy, March 3, 2007, Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.

"This site has had over 60 reports of SPAM and fraud over the last 2.5 months, yet doesn't show up Red in the summary.
Obviously McAfee completely ignores user input, so I'm not going to waste my time with this site anymore. Bye."
Nutsy, March 3, 2007, Reviewer, Reputation: 9 / 9.
Highlighted

RE: SiteAdvisor - Next Generation

JUNK DATA

SA is basically an unmoderated unstructured forum, lacking preview.
Such a model invariably generates a steady amount of garbage.
Even a little garbage accumulates in time, to any size...

Problems

Nonmoderation allows junk data, diluting real content. As time goes by
a growing part of SA will be informational garbage,
its meaning lost existence forgotten.

Here are a few possible Garbage Generators:
Misposted reviews (the right text but the wrong site).
Duplicate reviews (the right text but already posted).
Obsolete reviews (domains change owner/purpose, hacked sites cleaned).
A lot of stupid typos (preserved forever because preview is lacking).
Bogus reviews (scammers registering only to glorify their own crapware).
Mystical messages (from mentally ill who forgot their medication).
And the usual forum trolls, pursuing their own disruptive agenda...

Suggestions

Let at least trusted super users moderate the most important site-threads.
And let all reviewers edit their own posts, including deleting them.
Give us at least Preview for all. Murphys Law is still at large...



UNFORMATTED THREADS


Are we still in the 80'ties? Our only format is still plain text, not even italic allowed?
Fine when posts are short, and threads are young. But insufficient beyond oneliners.

Are we still in the 90'ties? Why no images at all? Pictures save thousands of words.
'Canadian Pharmacy' is easy to recognize, if you've seen a screendump once.
But try to describe the same through words only...

Problems

Simplicity is a good thing, but SA is simply too spartan;
even simple little Notepad can be more clever...

It's minimalistic layout beyond reason;
almost any addition would improve the product...

Suggestions

We're not asking for smileys, bells or whistles. Wink
But give us at least italics and bold. And imagine images..!

Lift the maximum size of reviews for trusted users.
Couple size with popularity: Reputation of X allows X Kbytes per post.
Consider the irony: long and well documented reviews sometimes
amputates themselves to fit within the 5K barrier,
while most junk data is allowed to remain forever..?



UNSORTABLE THREADS

Each site is a single ongoing thread,
always sorted by time, keeping news on top.
But as threads grow longer, less and less likely
that the best stuff is found first, or even on page one.

Problems

Sorting a growing thread only by time
actually lowers the quality first presented.

Suggestions

Let at least users sort threads by:
1) time, reviewer, reputation or length.
2) color and category
3) search after keyword(s)
4) most traffic or visits, popularity



OBSOLETE THREADS

The InterNet as a whole is forever. Single sites are not.
They grow, diminish. Some evolve, change course, reincarnate.

Problems

When a site changes owner/purpose, old reviews may suddenly become obsolete,
misleading and incorrect. Once correct, but unfortunately transformed to junk data.

Suggestions

A sites status should be reevaluated, when major aspects change.

Obsolete posts should be parked as Site History, along with WhoIs Archives.



UNSTRUCTURED THREADS

Fora are basically ongoing debates; yet we're not discussing but reviewing.
We're adding to each others work, not opposing other points of view.
We should have a Wiki, instead of this minimal forum.

Problems

The forum model is NOT the best review solution, and it grows worse
(cluttered, unstructured) as threads grow longer and longer. And,
in unmoderated fora every stupid error will be preserved forever.

At the same time, any post, no matter how good or brilliant,
will invariably be pushed further and further down, out of sight.
Sorting only by time garanties only 'news' - not 'quality' or other aspects.

Suggestions

Let reviewers edit a wiki, reputation moderating access/privileges.
And leave discussions to Reviewer/staff's own Forum.

Include sites WhoIs, IP location, blacklist status, etc
Include sites own description: www.aboutus.org



DEAD LINKS


Links in reviews are dead, unless the reviewer is 'experienced' or above.
For ordinary reviewers not even a link to www.mcafee.com is live.

Problems

This binary solution is too spartan and allows less than possible.
Why not save clicks, if time is wasted constantly?

Suggestions

Why not live links for all reputations, if links are found on a Whitelist?

If McAfee rates a website green, then it should be safe, right..?
Or if it's the government, a university, an Official Site...



REPUTATION

The reputation system sometimes falls short. Well documented red ratings
by reviewers of highest reputation can lie unnoticed month after month...

Problems

Reputation makes no difference when it should, if even the highest can be ignored.
How many more top reviewers does McAfee want to loose, before this is fixed..?

The system is even unclear in range:
ReviewerCentral show reputations lower than zero, even -20.
But in all public posts zero is still lowest?
Is range from 0 to 9, or from -9 to +9, or what..?

Suggestions

Clarify and amplify the reputation system.
And show us the real reputation...

Let the post voted on get its own reputation, not just add trust to the reviewer.
Then a thread can sort posts by popularity; what most people got most out of.

And, if a text reaches a negative reputation,
it's probably junk data that should be erased...



LEVEL

The level system has normally only 2 levels, 'reviewer' and 'experienced'.
'Staff' is rare and the 'expert'-level seems almost uninhabited; I've only seen it used once.

Problems

Only two levels don't seperate much. Reality is not that binary.

Suggestions

Perhaps Levels should be reconsidered..?
Let's have at least 4 real levels...



RATING

We have 6 different red, but only 1 green rating.
You're only allowed to select one rating at any given time.
However, todays scam-spam operations are increasingly complex affairs,
not fitting neatly into a single category. Now it rather takes 2-3-4 categories to corner a scum.

Problems

In the present system multiple ratings result in text inflation:
1) Many reviews that have identical text, and only differs in rating.
2) One review with text plus several others with different ratings, but no text to explain or document.
In both cases it's a waste of valuable screen space and users time. Constantly...

Suggestions

Replace the 'radiobuttons' with a more flexible system.
Allow multiple ratings in a single review.

And why not have another positive rating? Perhaps blue...
Signifying: an excellent site, no problems at all, a model for others.
Best in its category, most popular choise for most people...

Increase the weight and effect of a bad rating:
Include the functionality of Complainerator.com to
let reviewers post and report abuse simultaneously.



SCREEN

Time moves fast, and hardware evolution is no exception.
SAs present layout made more sense when SA was planned in 2004.
Now computers are portable, with wider screens in larger resolution.
And everywhere mobile phones mutate into handheld online PCs.

Problems

The present layout wastes valuable screen space:
One third in 1024X768, and half in 1380X800 is unused.
Yet in small units its still too large...

Suggestions

Upgrade page layout to 2 or 3 columns; use all available space.

Consider a tiny single column version, optimized for handheld units.



FLEXIBILITY

There is no such thing as a standard review / reviewer.
Some reviews are plain nonsens, while others stand out.
Some even bogus, like scammers glorifying their own crapware.
Some have just begun, others have posted thousand times.

Problems

Reviewers can be very varied, and should be treated so...

Suggestions

Use the reputation/level system to graduate reviewers,
if a feature shouldn't be granted to all equally or automatically.
Offer a flexible respons, not a spartan reaction of either or...



COMPLEXITY


A scam is no longer just a single individual website.
Time moves fast on the net, and complexity also grows.
But we're still reviewing the 'CanadianPharmacy'-entity
site by site by site, as if it really existed at this atomic level.

Problems

Specific sites means nothing to modern scammers,
that constantly buy, abuse and dump hundreds of domains every day.
A modern scam is really one operation, not a thousand independent sites.
And, we're still posting reviews as if sites lasted forever, but only good sites do that.
Bad sites are created and dumped again at an alarming and growing speed.
Spam exploding, botnets spreading, Storm Worm still loose, etc...

Suggestions

Let's move forward and consider Siteadvisor Next Generation..!

This is only part of a picture, merely a start;
Reviewers/users are welcome to add
everything I overlooked...
Highlighted

RE: SiteAdvisor - Next Generation

SITEADVISOR - NEXT GENERATION

SA is now several years old, and it begins to show.
In the background static web1 mutates into dynamic Web2.
We need a new version of SA to reflect modern times.

Furthermore, errors in posts are seldom corrected,
and user input are sometimes completely ignored.



PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS

Years have passed, but we're still stuck with the original model:
an unmoderated forum of unsortable threads with unformatted posts.

Forums are great for debates, no matter how long or diversified.
But NOT good at presenting conclusions or introductions.

Problems

SA is basically a minimal forum; no moderation, no preview.
Threads are unformatted, unsortable, diluted with garbage.
Layout more than 3 years old now...

Suggestions

Convert the obsolete forum to a modern wiki,
moderated by both staff, experts, super users etc...

Create a reviewer/staff-forum behind the public wiki
moderated with public / private messages between all parts.

Reanimate the Blog: News every second or third month is not even remotely enough!
Why not Todays Phish Count? Weekly Warnings.? Important Updates..? Net News...?
Why not a realtime Global Map of reviewing activity vs. scam operations..?
(All the data is already out there, ready for collect and display...)
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