Author Archives: gweir

How the Tucows Rating System Works

Andy Brice, over at Successful Software did an experiment. He submitted fake software to hundreds of download sites and requested the software be given a top rating. You can read about the results of his experiments over on his blog. Needless to say, it would appear that there are lot of untrustworthy sites out there.

This raises an interesting discussion about credible, trustworthy download sites. So I thought it would be a good chance to provide some insight into how our Tucows software submission and rating system works.

These five cows don’t come easyAn award from Tucows is not given lightly. In fact, just to make it on to our site, a software title needs to maintain a minimum three cow rating, and it needs to generate downloads. Titles that do not maintain an appropriate level of popularity are removed from the library on our site.

We offer a truly “best of” collection of software. One of our team members reviews every single piece of software that is submitted. In fact, over 70% of the submissions to Tucows are rejected because they fail to meet our stringent ratings criteria. In a nutshell, for Windows applications (we have different rating scales for Mac/Linux/Games, etc.), Tucows uses a 56-point rating scale with a large proportion of the rating based on usability (21 points), we allot up to 14 points for Help, Documentation and Support, 10 points for program enhancements, and 11 points for the opinion of the reviewer. The Tucows rating guide is so standardized, that a third-party site provides a “Tucows Rating Calculator” where software authors can analyze their title to get an idea of how it would rate on Tucows.

Our complete rating guide is available for anyone to see and includes details about the types of titles we will not accept and how we determine what to remove for our library. The bottom line for Tucows is this: our 5-cow rating system must be credible and trustworthy so our users can use our site with confidence.

The New Tucows Content Site

Screenshot of the new Tucows site.

It has been a long effort, but we are finally ready with the first phase of the new This re-launch is a significant change for Tucows.

For almost 15 years we have been one of the top software download sites on the Internet, essentially providing software based solutions to common problems. This new site makes “Solutions” more prominent. We now feature informative editorial solutions to help you use the Internet and technology better. Some of these solutions may involve software that you can download, some may just be better ways of getting things done with the software and technology you already have.

Previously, Tucows relied on its team of software reviewers to rate and review software in house. While we still continue to rate and review internally, we now invite the public to contribute as well. We invite you to add your comments to any solution or software listing on site, as well as submit your own solutions.

I’m really excited about this first phase of our reinvention. I think you’ll find the new design much cleaner and easier to navigate as well as more informative than ever. Over the coming weeks, you will see many more new features added that will make things even better.

Squishy cows on a computer monitor.

We’ve recorded a screencast in which I highlight some of’s new features — click here to view it.