The Need for Positive Repuations

Joe Thomas jthomas at
Fri Dec 18 12:20:39 PST 1992

> From: tcmay at (Timothy C. May)
> The longterm solution is to use "positive reputations" and not just
> "negative reputations" (as in Kill files). This is something Dean
> Tribble just talked about at our last physical meeting of the
> Cypherpunks ("Bay Area Branch" :-} ).

> Think of like a credit rating. People _earn_ trust, they don't just
> get assigned a credit rating until they do something bad. 

>From: pmetzger at (Perry E. Metzger)
>Indeed, in the long run, when there are billions of people in the  
>nets, even UseNet newsgroups devoted to people who use musical  
>instruments as sex toys would have thousands of posts a day because  
>given billions of possible subscribers, finding a few tens of  
>thousands with a particularly obscure interest wouldn't be hard.  
>Thus, in the long run, the nets will move to "closed" newsgroups and  
>mailing lists in which to be a subscriber one will have to be  
>explicitly subscribed to a list and will only be able to read with  
>one's private key and post by digitally signing messages. In such
>an environment, anonymous abusers will simply be incapable of  
>annoying people.

Yes, but there will still need to be a way for new people to join the  
lists, (and the net in general) before they've had a chance to "prove  
themselves."  Allowing all new id's to post to the whole group on a  
probationary basis is unacceptable;  as soon as someone proves  
obnoxious enough to kick off they could just start over with a new  
id.  The obvious answer is that a moderator will be necessary for all  
closed lists that require a positive rep for posting and that don't  
wish to be forever limited to their founding members.  After a few  
lucid posts passed by the moderator, an individual would gain enough  
of a reputation not to be filtered out any longer.

Of course, anyone who's heard Howard Stern fans invade political  
call-in shows will realize there's not much that can be done with  
those weird people who will spend a lot of time and energy to appear  
credible, only to annoy people.


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