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.
An 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.
Homepage is a show on CP24, Toronto’s 24-hour news channel, that covers stories about computers, high tech and the internet. It’s hosted by Amber Macarthur (often known to us in Toronto as “Amber Mac”), CityTV’s technology story anchor, former co-host of G4TechTV’s Call for Help and co-host of the CommandN podcast.
Our CEO Elliot Noss appeared on the show a couple of weeks ago to talk to Amber about the Tucows.com site. Topics covered include:
- The site’s revised look and change in focus from software downloads to solutions and how to get things done using your computer and the internet
- The community approach: readers of the site can sign up and contribute their own articles and solutions
- The solutions on the site: sometimes it’s software, sometimes it’s a service offered over the web, sometimes it’s something built into your operating system and sometimes it’s a procedure you can follow.
- How software downloads from Tucows have been scanned for viruses and our strict adware policies
We’ve got that segment (it’s 6 minutes, 36 seconds in length), and you can watch it in the window below or at full size on its Google Video page.
Video duration: 6 minutes, 36 seconds
Major Overhaul Puts Finding Solutions, Community and Search Front and Center
- The site has been redesigned to enhance overall user experience making it easier to find information about how to do things, software and services to help them do it, and community information to help them make decisions.
- Since 1993 Tucows.com has been a popular directory of shareware, freeware, and demo software packages available to download.
- Solutions to common problems are front-and-center on the homepage and profiled throughout the site.
- New and enhanced community tools include user ratings (thumb’s up/thumb’s down), rankings for Solutions (on the Tucows 5-cow rating system), and user comments on Software and Solutions. Users will also be able to prepare and submit their own Solutions.
- The Tucows software directory includes over 40,000 listings and has been improved and streamlined. Categories are: Audio and Video, Business, Design Tools, Desktop Enhancements, Development and Web Authoring, Games, Home and Education, IS/IT, and Internet. These categories are sorted into PC, Mac, Linux, Web and PDA platforms.
- Tucows has content distribution arrangements with AOL, Microsoft’s Window’s Marketplace and others.
- Since its inception, Tucows has been committed to providing a quality experience for Internet users, each title in the Tucows software directory is checked for spyware, malware and viruses.
- Software developers have new opportunities to advertise and sponsor placements on the site to maximize their opportunities to reach the Tucows global user base. Tucows continues to support software authors of all sizes with its self-service author resource center. http://author.tucows.com
Visit our purpose-built del.icio.us page with hyperlinks and annotations to relevant content sources:
Screencast with Greg Weir, Director Content Division
Elliot Noss, President and CEO, Tucows Inc.:
“Tucows has always been about helping people use the Internet better. Broadening our focus from software downloads to Internet solutions will keep true to that spirit and by providing access to resources and the invaluable input of other users in the community we will help people make better decisions in a complex environment.”
“Over the thirteen year history of the site, we’ve responded to a number of changes in the way people use the Internet. By incorporating more community, search and social features in redesigning the site we’re confident that we’ve made the site more useful for everyone.”
Greg Weir, Director, Content Services, Tucows:
“This redesign reflects changes in how people search for answers online. We’ve optimized the site to deliver a high-quality experience for users typing a common challenge, for example “How do I remove spyware?” into a Search Engine.”
“We’ve completely overhauled our extensive editorial content. By providing Solutions to challenges and encouraging the community to contribute comments, rankings, reviews and their own Solutions, we‚Äôre creating a tremendous resource to help people get things done on the Internet and with technology.”
Tucows Inc. is the largest Internet services provider for hosting companies and ISPs. Through our network of over 7,000 service providers around the world we provide millions of email boxes and manage over seven million domains. Tucows is an accredited registrar with ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Tucows remains one of the most popular software download sites on the Internet. For more information please visit: http://tucowsinc.com.
Director of Communication
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