Join the Websee Community!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I join?
Due to the anonymous nature of Websee, there is no “joining” websee like a traditional web application. Instead, websee is an anonymous, worldwide, community web initiative that simply requires installing the websee browser extension to participate and become a “webseer”. The extension is currently available for Chrome and will be available for Firefox soon. The extension automatically enables things like discussing, sharing, and most importantly: automatically voting on what you discover everyday.
How is this different from reddit?
Reddit, Hacker News, and virtually all content aggregators depend on users to submit content to and participate in voting on their sites to rank content. This causes the services to bias towards the preferences of what is usually a minority of pro-active users, while the vast majority of users, casual readers, have no influence on and thus do not have their interests represented in the information presented. Further, Reddit, with it’s upvote/downvote system employs ranking algorithms that bias against controversial topics. It’s why things like pictures of cats and funny memes tend to fill the front page of reddit (not that we don’t like cat pictures and funny memes, but often we want higher quality information, and reddit too often fails to provide). Because Websee passively takes into account all raw, anonymized traffic from the open community of webseers, it is much easier to figure out what’s really relevant with many fewer users.
What does the browser extension do?
The core background importance of the browser extension is in it’s passive sending of the web url and title of each page a webseer navigates to, as this data is utilized to determine what’s relevant across the web. It also includes useful functionality like discussing and sharing web pages.
Why should I install the browser extension?
Websee is only as useful as the people using it. If you want to join a movement of people working together to reclaim control of our information sources, the beginning of the technological infrastructure necessary to support such a democratization have begun to emerge as Websee. By installing the extension, you’ll join a growing pool of people that are anonymously sharing data for the benefit of everyone, both in and out of the community. What you see can only be represented if you allow it to be anonymously shared back by installing the extension. To have discussions, in the extension or on the site, and to easily share links to other networks on any web page, you’ll also need the extension.
Does the extension track my browsing activity?
It does not track “your” browsing activity, as the extension has no conception of your identity. It is connected to no other services or identifying information in your browser, and thus just passes on browsing activity of unknown identity to the secure server.
Does Websee record Internet Protocol (IP) addresses?
Yes. IP addresses are used to ensure privacy (ensure only links hit by multiple IP addresses are viewable), to stop abuse (blacklist addresses), and will be used in clusters to generate Waves when their are sufficient users for subcategorization of web pages. Fortunately, IP addresses are inherently sent with every request you make on the web, and thus only high-level information can be derived from them, such as region and internet service provider, due to their public nature. They are also not considered unique identifiers, as court after court has ruled, recognizing that they are unreliable identifiers due to their open nature. In fact, an IP address will usually be shared by multiple people. Further, while these IP addresses are used internally, they will never be shared publicly.
What data is collected and is it safe, private, and secure?
The only data collected by the extension are the titles and urls of web pages visited. For a site to be discoverable on websee, it must have been independently requested by at least two IP addresses in the past 18 hours, or manually shared to websee. This threshold of numbers of IP addresses will rise as the number of webseers and corresponding crossover makes it possible. In essence, more users will allow for increasingly greater anonymity, but in the rare scenarios where private pages are accessed from two IPs within the same day, other privacy mechanisms are in place. For example, all email, Facebook, and Google pages are also filtered from public view.
Does the extension operate while I’m in incognito or private browsing mode?
No. By default no browser extensions are enabled in incognito or private browsing mode.
What is the current ranking algorithm for content?
Currently, content is ranked by scoring each URL with the following formula: (number of unique IP visits to the URL in the past 18hrs)^(3/2) / (number of daily unique IP visits to the URL in the past ~two weeks). We intend to open up the capability for custom, community submitted algorithms in the near future.