The Need for Positive Repuations

Timothy C. May tcmay at
Fri Dec 18 15:55:47 PST 1992

Marc writes:

> Go read Ender's Game.  They had a seriously electronic society.  There
> were public message boards, and positive-reputation-based boards.
> Basically, if you demonstrated a clue on the public boards, then
> someone already reputable could recommend you for "membership" in the
> reputation-based boards.  One of the characters did so anonymously.
> She even got paid for writing editorials, etc.  Anybody could watch
> the proceeedings of the reputeable boards.  In time, she was competing
> in debates with major politicians, et. al.  Sci-fi?  or Reality?  I
> believe we could move from the former to the latter.  (And I just
> avoided any sort of spoiler about the plot ;-)

Exactly! "Ender's Game," by Orson Scott Card, and "True Names," by
Vernor Vinge, are the two books I've been recommending since I coined
the term "crypto anarchy" in 1987. I held these books up in a couple
of talks I gave at BayCon (SF convention) and the Hackers Conference
and said "Read these books!"

A couple of folks have said that newcomers will never be listened to,
will never "get in" to positive reputation systems. This simply isn't
true, even with today's "manual" reputation management systems. On the
two main lists I subscribe to, this list and the Extropians list (send
request to Extropians-request at, if interested in future
stuff, anarchocapitalism, nanotech, cryonics, etc....about a dozen
folks on this list are also on Extropians, I would guess), newcomers
start making posts and gradually the list gets to know their name,
what to expect of them, etc. This is their "rep." Serious flamers or
abusers see their rep torn down.

(A list I just joined is the Pynchon list...actually, one of them saw
my "W.A.S.T.E. line in my .sig and _invited_ me to join. As a newcomer
to that list, I have no reputation. What I say and how reasonably I
say it will establish my rep. This is as it should be.)

If people want to see the posts and comments of newcomers, even those
without extensive history on the list or glowing reps, then they will
likely set their "agents" to allow the new stuff through. Lots of
variations are possible and will be tried.

Think about positive reputations and you'll see them in action all
around you...where you shop, what you read, who you associate with,
etc. The Net will ultimately be no different.

--Tim May

Timothy C. May         | Crypto Anarchy: encryption, digital money,  
tcmay at       | anonymous networks, digital pseudonyms, zero
408-688-5409           | knowledge, reputations, information markets, 
W.A.S.T.E.: Aptos, CA  | black markets, collapse of governments.
Higher Power: 2^756839 | PGP Public Key: by arrangement.

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