A the most basic level, topsites scripts group a bunch of related sites together and ranks them by popularity, based on the level of traffic they give back to the list. So, more hits (or votes) that come to the list; the better the ranking for that individual site, and higher on the list it will go.
When webmasters and website owners join the topsites list they are given a button to place on their own site and link back to the topsite list. Any traffic the website sends to your topsite script then would give them one vote (or clickthru). This will then rank them higher in the list.
Security and ainti-cheat functions have always been an issue with topsite scripts since their inception. This is why many topsite scripts included various methods of ainti-cheat protection, such as cookies, IP blocking, and vote limiting. However just because these methods are turned on in your script doesn’t mean that you are 100% safe. Overtime attackers have become craftier to get around these types of security measures, that is why you should be using a up to date version of any script that is running on your website; especially top site ranking scripts.
jRank uses many of these latest security features to combat hackers that try to push themselves up in the rankings, also the jRank topsites script allows topsite list administrators permanently ban these trouble makers.
Features of a topsites script
There are hundreds of topsites list scripts available over the internet. Some of them are very simple with minimal options but can range to fully featured scripts which come packed within a CMS. So review the features carefully of each to find the best for you. Typically you will want a script which allow for flexibility while maintaining a level of manageability for yourself, fellow webmasters and visitors to your list.
A bit of history
Top sites lists have been around since the late 1990’s, and loosely based upon another older script that links similar sites together, called a “webring”. Webring scripts had no way to rank a site, they so they were all equal in the ring. A visitor could visit the next or previous site in the ring, or chose to visit a random site within the ring.
Top sites scripts have been actively installed and developed over many years as they are a proven way to generate traffic and interest among similar sites within the same marketing niche.