Standard Headers for Anonymous Remailers

D. Owen Rowley owen at
Thu Oct 7 11:39:20 PDT 1993

 > From: pierre at (Pierre Uszynski)
 > > From: Karl Lui Barrus <klbarrus at>
 > > The attitude expressed by the individual on shows a problem we
 > > will have in educating others - "anonymous posts CAN destroy a civil
 > > conversation".  Yes, maybe so, but in my experience on mailing lists,
 > > bbses, etc. I've noticed that "flame wars" and "anonymous posts" have
 > > NO correlation, and are quite independent of one another.  
 > > Since I've seen "flame wars" on systems with absolutely no anonymous
 > > posting facilities (or none that were used), I conclude that civil
 > > conversation is destroyed by strongly held differences in opinions (or
 > > some other factor I can't pin down).
 > I'll second that. The main menaces against "civil conversations" have been,
 > on Netnews, flame wars and wars between two individuals.

There is another level of *menace* which I suppose many of you are unaware.
The queer newsgroups of usenet, have been experiencing waves of 
net-terrorism for the last couple of years. I don't mean the usual
mean-spirited or dogma-driven type of uninformed posting that 
echoes the stereotypical stuff we are used to dealing with in 
daily life. Nor do I mean the occasional 

I mean people who exploit insecure sites and networking skill to forge
mail and articles as part of a concerted and ongoing campaign of
Stuff that has resulted in very serious consequences.

Theres no need to go into detail here about the array of tactics and
the widening scope of the phenomenon, but I think it needs to be looked
at as an example of how and why systems are abused.

If anti-social immaturity can easily find shelter for puerile behavior,
then any socipathic agenda or ruthless competitor can do likewise.

 > the flamers and the opponents are clearly
 > identified. They are usually proudly posting under their usual Name (as
 > they are all fighting for their Reputation, and for establishing their
 > opponent's Incompetence) (... do we recognize anybody yet :-? ) I actually
 > can't remember such a war involving an anonymous poster (as in "using
 > penet or similar").

soc.motss and other newsgroups have seen a long list of pseudo-persons
posting from non existent sites, and yes.. penet has been used to this

 > What destroys discussions (and forces people to leave them...) is the
 > tendency of threads to start genuine, and to end as flame wars.
 > Certainly, for-money systems would tend to shorten flame wars..

I think that there is no shortage of contributing factors to the
shortcomings of network distributed ascii based communication.

Bottom line is that when we have our full range of auditory clues,
and visual context, we use all of that and more in order to convey
meaning, and in network distributed ascii communication the clues and
context are missing unless we *spell it out*.

Most of us aren't that diligent or patient.

I think it is interesting to also note that people will engage in
levels of flaming that tehy would never do to another person 
face to face. That is also a form of non-acountability by being unreachable
when your content might otherwise earn you a fist in your face.

Personally, I believe that some levels and forms of anonymity are 
highly desireable. Reality is that some levels and forms of anonymity
are too easily subverted by sociopaths who don't care about the 
consequences of their acts, or the restrictions that may come about
due to their abuse.

Not to get too far past the scope of mailers and netnews, but
these issues have importance to the growth of Networked commerce
in general.

I think that the design of privacy systems needs to take these
dark-side issues seriously and do their best to minimise the potential
for abuse. 

If for no other reason, where there is money, there is abuse
and criminally sociopathic predators who will do anything in their
power to gain advantage over their competition.

Perhaps a *zoning* concept is needed, in such that transactions would
have qualifying conditions - or in such that *zones* exist as data-space
with authentication qualifications for *entry* or transaction.

LUX ./. owen

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