More thoughts on moderation and certification (part 1)

Posted 19 Apr 2000 at 18:52 UTC by Raphael Share This

Several discussion sites and news sites are useful to the open source developers: Advogato, Kuro5hin,, Slashdot and others. Each of them has its strengths and weaknesses. After comparing the moderation processes used by these sites (and reading the previous articles posted here), I identified a few problems with Advogato. In this article, I explain what these problems are and I suggest some solutions for making Advogato even better.

This article is more or less a followup to my first article on moderation (which referred to Slashdot) and some of my comments in raph's first "Meta" article about the trust metric. This article has grown and changed as the weeks passed. I have now decided to split it in two parts: the first one dealing with certifications, and the second one dealing with moderation and content filtering. I will post the second part soon, probably next week. In retrospect, I think that I should have posted my ideas earlier as several smaller articles, but this is too late now. Anyway, I am probably taking this too seriously...

Trust metric and rating of skills should not be mixed

The certification system on Advogato is not used in a consistent way by all users. Although it is defined as a "trust metric", it is mostly used as a rating system for the skills or behavior of other users. This drift is caused by the fact that the certification guidelines use terms such as "Master" and "Apprentice", which are related to the skills of the user and not related to how well she is known or trusted.

As a result of the inconsistency between the naming of the certification system (trust metric) and how it should be used (skill levels), this system is used in different ways by the users. Some of them rate the others based only on their skills or reputation, regardless of whether or not these accounts can be trusted for representing who they claim to be. A good example of that is the number of "Master" ratings received within a few hours by the recently created accounts esr and BrucePerens, without any public confirmation that these accounts were real or fake (e.g. a link to their Advogato account from their home page, a public e-mail message or news article, ...) [1]. On the other hand, some users rate the others based on how well they know them or trust them. This can be seen when some people join Advogato and certify the ones working on the same project(s) with a "Master" rating as long as they are sure that these accounts really belong to the right users.

I suppose that most of us are somewhere between these two examples and try to use the certification system as a combination of both. But alas, these different interpretations lead to the fact that the current certifications are not a good measure of either trust or skill levels.

In order to measure trust, Advogato needs to change its certification system so that it uses other terms for describing how much an account is trusted. As I will explain below, this can coexist with a rating system describing how the skills or contributions of each user are perceived by the others. The trust levels could be as follows:

The first two levels should be close to each other (if a number is associated to them for calculating the flows in the graph) because there is a very low probability of fraud.

I tried to find some good names for describing these levels, but I could not find a consistent set of single words. Suggestions are welcome... I would like the highest level (4) to sound very personal and level 1 to have a meaning of: "I'm not sure but that account does not look bad." For level 0, I would prefer something like "Unknown" instead of "Untrusted" because it should be neutral and not negative.

Calculating the trust/skill levels

The system for evaluating the trust level of each user can coexist with another one for evaluating their skills, contributions, or whatever criteria we like to use for qualifying someone as a "Master" (or "Mistress") or as an "Apprentice". This means that someone who wants to certify another account could select the trust level and the skill level in two separate lists. However, these two ratings should not be calculated in the same way.

The current system for calculating the trust metric on Advogato is good and would probably work very well if the names of the levels had been based exclusively on trust/knowledge. Although there has been some discussion about the selection of "seeds" for the graph, I do not think that it would be easy or even useful to have many individual trust webs. So let's keep the current system for measuring trust.

But the evaluation of skills[3] should be done in a different way. The trust metric gives you the maximum certification level that can reach your node in the graph. This is appropriate for deciding if an account can be trusted, but this is not good for defining what the Advogato community thinks about the skills of that user, because the criteria for these ratings are much more subjective. Instead of using a method that selects the maximum value reached by each node after multiple passes, it would be better to use a weighted average of the ratings.

A weighted average has the advantage of being simpler to evaluate, because it is based on a single formula that involves only a node and its peers without requiring multiple passes. The weights would be a function of the trust metric only and the method could look like this:

In other words, the skill level Sn of each node N is given by [4]:

Sn = sum_for_each_P (Spn * Wpn) / sum_for_each_P (Wpn)

It should be noted that the skill level of one account has no influence on the ratings it gives to other accounts (only the trust level counts). This means that a trusted Apprentice has as much influence as a trusted Master for rating another user. But an untrusted Master would have very little influence. Also, since there is no "flow" as in the trust graph, any user can rate as many other users as she wants without risking that some ratings become ineffective. [5]

Using a weighted average would also reduce the need for "negative certifications" that some people would like to have on Advogato. Since every rating counts as long as it has a non-zero weight, it is possible to lower someone's skill level by giving a lower rating to that person. Of course, the effect depends on your own weight compared to the weight of all other users who have certified that person.

At first I thought that each weight Wpn should be equal to P's trust level Tp (as generated in the first step). But this implies that P would rate all other nodes with the same weight, regardless of whether she knows (has certified) these accounts or not. So I prefer the following formula:

Wpn = Tp * (c + Tpn)

or the very similar formula:

Wpn = Tp * (1 + Tpn / c)

where Tpn is the trust certification that P gave to N, and c is a positive constant that is higher than any trust level. The reason why c should be higher is that the trust level of P should be the dominant factor. Otherwise, some users would be tempted to raise the certification that they give to another account in order to have more weight for increasing or decreasing that account's skill rating. This would ruin the purpose of the trust metric. Adding a constant in the formula should reduce this effect. It is also interesting to note that with this formula, an account that is not trusted at all (Tpn = 0) will get a weight of 0 for all of its ratings. This is probably a good thing. On the other hand, a trusted account can give a skill rating to another account without certifying it first. This could also be useful.

Transition between the current system and the new one

If this new system is ever going to be implemented on Advogato, there should be a way to move the existing certifications to the new system. However, I do not think that these certifications should be used directly as a measure of trust, because the majority of users have probably used them with a "skills" meaning.

The following solution should be better:

Another solution would be to initialize the trust network with level 1 certifications only, but I assume that if one rates another account as Journeyer or Master, then one has probably heard about that person before.

Once all accounts have been converted, then everybody can spend some time raising their certifications for the people they know. There will probably be a period during which the trust levels and skill levels of all accounts will change frequently (up or down), but most of them should stay close to their initial levels.

Aging of certifications and ratings

It would not make sense for a level 1 certification to stay in the system forever. If, after a couple of months, the user who certified an account has not got enough information to raise this certification to level 2 or more, then the certification should probably be removed. If this is not done automatically, then it would be nice to have at least a reminder displayed on the user's page, telling her that some certifications should be re-evaluated.

The certifications at level 3 or 4 should be allowed to stay forever (until the user changes them). However, there could be an exception for level 4: if a user certified someone at level 4 and that other user has certified the first one at a level that is less then 3, then the level 4 should probably be lowered. It would be unusual for someone to claim that they talked to someone else, while that other person claims that they have never heard of her. Again, this could be done automatically or by adding a warning on the user's page.

For the skill ratings, it would be interesting to have the weights decreasing slowly over time unless the ratings are refreshed. People change, and it is good to re-evaluate their contributions from time to time. If the time since the last evaluation is greater then 3 months (for example), then the weight Wpn could be decreased by 5% every month. After two years, the weight for this rating would reach 0 or some minimal value that would make it irrelevant in comparison with the other ratings. Re-submitting the rating is all it would take to get back 100% of its weight for the next couple of months.

This aging system does not have to be implemented at the same time as the transition between the current system and the new one. But the new one should at least store a time stamp for each certification, so that the aging feature can be added later if necessary.


I hope that you are not bored by this long article. If you were bored, I hope that you stopped reading before reaching this part.

This first part has presented a way to de-couple the trust metric from the skill ratings. This solution preserves the resistance against attacks that is provided by raph's method, while allowing more freedom for the skill ratings. Although the solution seems good to me, I may have forgotten some obvious things, so feel free to criticize it...

The second part (to be posted soon) will deal with moderation and content filtering.


[1] Now I know that these accounts really belong to Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens, respectively, because I received their confirmation by e-mail while I was preparing this article. The day after, Bruce posted an article and some comments on Advogato, confirming that his account was active.

[2] I wrote "reply to a private e-mail" because an unsolicited e-mail message could have been forged by someone else. In that case, a lower certification level should be used. A digitally signed message (with GPG) could probably be trusted at the highest level even if it was posted in a public forum instead of being part of a private e-mail exchange between the two users. But only if that user's public key can be (and has been) checked from a reliable source.

[3] I am lazy so I will use the word "skills" for describing the reputation of someone in the Advogato community. This can be seen as a combination of their coding or documentation skills, contributions to the open source efforts, ability to write good articles or comments in this forum, and many other things.

[4] I use "sum_for_each_P" because it is not easy to include a Greek sigma sign in an HTML page without using images or making some unsafe assumptions about the fonts that could be installed in your browser.

[5] This implies that the skill ratings could be vulnerable to "attacks" by a group of trusted users, but this does not matter because the trust metric should be resistant to attacks and these users have to be trusted first. If they are trusted members of the community, then I don't think that a coordinated action should be considered as an "attack".

[6] The trust levels really need names instead of numbers. By the way, aren't you tired of reading all these footnotes? This shows that this article started as a brain dump that was not correctly distilled...

The problem is in the capacities, posted 19 Apr 2000 at 22:14 UTC by BrentN » (Apprentice)

Let me first state that I like the idea put forth in this article. The "trust" portion of the rating system is much like Phil Zimmermann's "web of trust" model, which works reasonably well.

In my view, the problem with the current trust metric is the restriction of capacities on nodes. As I read the description of the trust metric, a restriction on a node's capacity in effect places a limit on the number of people that person can then certify.

For example, consider a user 5 steps from the seed. The capacity of his node is 4. When the transformation is done to allow the Ford-Fulkerson algorithm to be applied, the capacity of the edge x- to x+ becomes 3, and from x- to the supersink is 1. Now, the capacities of the lines from x+ to all the nodes that have been certified by x are infinite, but only three units of flow will leave x+ due to conservation. How this flow is allocated amongst the possible flowlines is indeterminate in absence of a more complete graph, but the fact is that if someone at this level certifies more than three people, someone isn't going to get any flow.

This may be a feature, not a bug, but in either case it doesn't really make sense from my point of view.

I think the current system would work better if the capacity on each node were infinite, but with the restriction that each flowline from a user to another user be restricted to having a capacity of 1. This would require that the capacity of the flowline to the supersink be infinite to handle the overflow.

If this were the case, the flow out of each node would only be restricted by the flow into the node. To rephrase this in context: a person's ability to certify would be dependent on the number of people who certified him/her. This makes good sense. It also preserves the attack-resistance of the original metric, since we can assume that few "trusted" people would certify an attacker, thus limiting the attacker's ability to alter the ratings of "trusted" users.

For the model described above, this could be modified by the users trust level. A "level 4" trusted user would have an infinite capacity node, where a "level 0" trusted user would have a capacity of 1 (or zero!) This would give added security, since the number of people you could then certify would be based on your trust level.

I am looking forward to reading part 2...

How do you "trust" someone you may not know?, posted 19 Apr 2000 at 23:28 UTC by jlbec » (Master)

The distinction between "trust" and "skill" is one that has already been brought up. The Trust Metric in its current form is inended to guage contribution to the free software community. At least, that is how I understand it, and how it seems to have been described in the various Meta discussions. "Trust Metric" is probably a misnomer. It comes from PKI terminology. Semantics aside, most folks here understand what is intended.

The current Trust Metric has to be at least partly a skill metric. A person's contribution is not sheer volume, but the quality of work also. Nothing big here. Separating the two ("trust" and "skill/contribution") begs one large question: how do you trust someone?

Think about trust. What am I trusting you for? I can't really trust someone I don't know well. The free software community provides many interrelationships and acquaintances, but not everyone gets together for beer every week :-)

The problem here is that trust will be limited to a small subset. I know certain people personally, and I trust them. But that is it. Only they get my "trust" rating.

Imagine a new person joins. NewPerson pops up with a new diary entry and all, and I read it. I notice that NewPerson wrote the utility ReallyUseful. I know the code, and love the tool. I have all the context I need to provide a "skill/contribution" certification to NewPerson.

But I've never met NewPerson, and know nothing about them personally. I cannot provide any "trust" qualification, and so I leave that blank.

Certainly there may be other folks that know NewPerson. But the chances are much smaller than someone knowing NewPerson's work. Already we have "focused groups" on Advogato. There is the GIMP/GNOME people, the BSD folks, the LinuxChix, etc. This is not bad. This is good. A grouping can provide a stable certification graph that allows people unknown to the other groups to be certified "correctly". This is a benefit of the trust metric.

The difference is that a member of a "focused group" can easily certify a lone hacker whose work they are familiar with. They cannot provide a "trust" rating. People joining will not be able to acquire a nice think trust graph if they are not already well known in at least one "focused group".

Advogato is not about exclusion.

The other question (brought up best by shaver) is "what are we trusting?" Are we saying we trust a person with free software, with our kids, with $100? The obvious answer is that we are trusting them with free software. In other words, we trust they have the ability to provide quality contributions to free software.

It's a skill metric

"Web of Trust".com, posted 20 Apr 2000 at 02:07 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

there is a south-african company just been bought by verisign who provide "web of trust" metrics. certification requires that you provide certain bits of info, such as an email address for level 0; your name and address for level 1; it goes up, from there. you are *not* allowed to certify *other* people until you are at the top level (and for that, you must have been certified by at least something like 30 other people, at the top-minus-one level).

yes, i like this. i am happy to add in a cut/paste version of the netflow code so that it can do "trust-known" as distinct from "trust-skill". if you can come up with some lines of code at the right point, and raph approves it, i'll do it.

btw, yes, i like the GPG thing. there should be other methods.

also btw, it could be possible to either:

  • leave the current trust-metric as "trust-skill"
  • work in two separate systems and phase the old one out
  • trash the whole current metric-set to "default" and start again.

i'm in favour of the last one because it gives a window of opportunity to bring in some things such as message-passing, etc.

In reply to "It's a skill metric", posted 20 Apr 2000 at 11:56 UTC by julian » (Master)

jlbec, while you did make some good points, I think that a trust metric should still exist seperate from a skill metric. I think the major point is that not all people who are trustworthy, as in with their open source coding, not flaming advogato, and generally pushing open source, are good coders. And not all good coders are trustworthy to push open source and not flame advogato.

I think the current problem is that it is just assumed that if you're a decent coder and on advogato, you're an open source advocate and trustworthy. Say (Yes, this is far-fetched) a Microsoft, or better yet, a Corel employee who codes PURLY closed source and thinks open source completely sucks, were to join advogato. Maybe he wanted to keep a diary here and perhaps see why we're all insane. Now, perhaps he made some excellent closed source linux app which many people really want/need... it's extremely complex and took a large portion of his time. I think we would want him to have a low trust rating, but high skill rating.

Perhaps it isn't so far-fetched. We are getting more and more popularity here, there will be some people who are not 100% open source advocates, and I know there are people who I wouldn't trust posting articles here. Just because the current system works when added to the fact that the majority are open source advocates and the majority use their conscience a lot does not mean it will always be that way, and I think seperating trust from skill will help to prepare the system for perhaps a day when advogato will have all kinds of people, not necessarily open source advocates, but people interested in open source.

It doesn't really matter that much., posted 20 Apr 2000 at 14:02 UTC by argent » (Master)

Since anyone Apprentice on up has exactly the same privileges, the trust metric is effectively binary: you either trust a person (in which case you certify them) or you don't. How much you certify them by doesn't really matter... so long as they get that first "Apprentice" standing they're in.

Re: How do you "trust" someone? / "it's a skill metric", posted 20 Apr 2000 at 15:51 UTC by Raphael » (Master)

jlbec writes:

The distinction between "trust" and "skill" is one that has already been brought up. The Trust Metric in its current form is inended to guage contribution to the free software community. At least, that is how I understand it, and how it seems to have been described in the various Meta discussions. "Trust Metric" is probably a misnomer. It comes from PKI terminology. Semantics aside, most folks here understand what is intended.

This is exactly the problem that I brought up in the first paragraphs of my article, in the section titled "Trust metric and rating of skills should not be mixed". I will try to explain it in a different way:

  • On the one side, we have the page describing the trust metric. It relies only on "trust" concepts and "security against attackers". There is nothing relating to "free software", "skills" or any other concepts, except that the names of the certification levels (Master, Journeyer, Apprentice) are briefly mentioned in the introduction. But most of the document is about security and trust, and deciding if an account is valid or not. This is really defined as a trust metric and the security against attackers makes sense in that context.

  • On the other side, we have the page describing the certification guidelines. In this page, the context is totally different: it explains that the certification levels should be used for rating the skills and the contributions of a person to the free software community. It does not mention anything related to trust, security and validity of the accounts. You can then consider that this page defines a skill metric.

Alas, the two concepts do not mix well. That's why I said that "these different interpretations lead to the fact that the current certifications are not a good measure of either trust or skill levels."

Among other things, using this system as a skill metric implies that it looses a part of its resistance against attacks: if many users certify others based on their reputation (skill metric) without checking if the account really belong to whom they claim to be (trust metric), then the number of "confused nodes" can increase quickly. Note that the system would still be resistant against massive attacks (it is designed to do that well) but it does fail against fake accounts or abusive users.

Also, the resulting certification level for each user is defined by the maximum level that can reach that node after three passes on the graph (one for each level). This is good for measuring trust, because once a sufficient number of users declare an account as valid, that account should be accepted even if some other users did not certify it to the same level. But this is not a good way to measure the skills or the reputation of that person in the free software community. If 2 users rate someone as a Master and 20 users rate the same person as an Apprentice (i.e. they take the time to certify that account), then giving a Master rating to that account would be too much. That's why I think that the current system is well designed for a trust metric, but is not appropriate for a skill metric. And since we need both, I proposed to use two systems for evaluating "trust" and "skill" separately.

A note about why we need both:

  • We need a trust metric in order to be resistant to attacks (script kiddies) and to a lesser extent to be sure that the person posting an article is really who they claim to be.
  • We need a skill rating because many users want it. And if we do not have a system that allows it, then those users would use the trust certifications for rating the skills, which is not a good idea.

jlbec continues with:

Separating the two ("trust" and "skill/contribution") begs one large question: how do you trust someone?

The answer is simple: you only trust the people you know, or the people who gave you enough information to be able to decide that they are really who they claim to be. As I wrote in my article, the highest certification level (level 4, lacking a better name) would be exceptional. This is only for the people you know personally. Most of the certifications would be at level 2 or 3, and there is nothing wrong with that.

If someone joins this site and claims to have written this or that great software package, then you can give her a level 2 certification even if you don't know her personally. Later, after reading her articles or checking her contributions, you can raise your certification to level 3. And if you ever talk directly to her and you have the feeling that you can trust that person, then (and only then) you can give a level 4 certification. But this would be the exception and not the rule, because you do not know so many people directly.

And this leads me to the problem described by BrentN:

In my view, the problem with the current trust metric is the restriction of capacities on nodes.

Well, I consider this as a feature: you cannot trust everybody in the universe, so it is not a bad idea to encourage people to certify the ones they really know instead of trying to certify everybody. This also makes the system more resistant to attacks, because if some nodes had an infinite capacity, then an attacker getting who manages to get one such node would be able to create and certify as many fake accounts as she wants.

However, the situation is different when you think about rating the skills or contributions of other users: you are allowed to have an opinion on anybody (because the skill ratings are just that, an opinion) so it makes sense to allow every user to rate as many other users as she wants. That's why the two systems should use a different method for evaluating the trust or skill level of each node.

Re: It doesn't really matter that much, posted 20 Apr 2000 at 16:15 UTC by Raphael » (Master)

argent writes:

Since anyone Apprentice on up has exactly the same privileges, the trust metric is effectively binary [...]

This does not have to be that way. Several people said that letting an Observer post some diary entries could lead to some abuses. So it could be interesting to require at least a minimal certification before you can do anything, and then have another threshold before you can post articles or comments. We could have the following set of privileges, depending on the trust level:

  • level 0: cannot post anything until someone certifies that account (the user can only create the account, update her personal info and wait for certifications.)
  • level 1: can post diary entries.
  • level 2: can post diary entries and replies to the articles.
  • level 3 and 4: can post new articles on the front page.

Maybe the levels 2, 3 and 4 should have the same privileges so that the system would not be too elitist. At least levels 3 and 4 must have the same, because there would not be many accounts reaching level 4.

Capacity != flow!, posted 20 Apr 2000 at 19:42 UTC by BrentN » (Apprentice)

Raphael, you state that

This also makes the system more resistant to attacks, because if some nodes had an infinite capacity, then an attacker getting who manages to get one such node would be able to create and certify as many fake accounts as she wants.

This is not quite true! Just because you have the capacity doesn't mean that you wil have that amount of flow! The amount of flow *out* of your node is limited to the flow *into* your node. This is why I suggest restricting the flow to a single unit per certification. This way if only one person certifies you, you can only certify one person. If you think about it carefully, if raph's assumption that "attacker" nodes are not connected to the "trusted" nodes holds, then my suggestion is secure as well.

Read Section 5.1 of Chartrand & Oellermann's Applied and Algorithmic Graph'll see what I mean

Trust the Computer. The Computer is your friend., posted 20 Apr 2000 at 20:13 UTC by Ankh » (Master)

If Advogato had started out with a trust metric with labels from 0 to 4 instead of Apprentice, Journeyer and Master, I doubt that as many people would have signed up. So there was a bootstrapping problem..

There are enough people posting now that there's an information overload problem instead, which is a much healthier situation.

I agree that separating out trust from skill makes some sense. You could go all the way and have arbitrary attributes if you wanted, not just open source awareness. You could include coding ability, C indenting style, IRC l33tne55, height, SAT scores (US only), writing and documenting ability, sock colour (those of you who were waiting for that one would probably be willing to say that they knew I was who I was, a high trust rating), but if we wanted all that we'd be characters in a roleplaying game.

The current system seems buggy (why are two of the people whom I certified still marked as observers, for example?) but it also more or less seems to work.

Given limited time to implement changes, I'd rather see a sorted project list with one-line descriptions on the same page than certification changes.

Technocrat -- what's its mechanism?, posted 20 Apr 2000 at 20:14 UTC by kmself » (Journeyer)

From the dumb-looks-and-questions dept., I don't see what/how Technocrat is doing to filter users or posts. Anyone?

Re: It doesn't really matter that much,, posted 21 Apr 2000 at 09:12 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

hi raphael,

i am hesistant to agree that advogato should shut the door on anyone *until* they receive certification. avoid "elitism".

with the introduction of different types of certifications (i'm working on providing the means to do that), it should easily be possible to allow graded access to the site's features.

so far, i have the "skill"-metrics (Novice, Apprentice...) in an xml file instead of hard-coded into the program. i am now working on modifying all hard-coded references to req_get_tmetric_level() to refer to "skill" as a parameter, again, instead of hard-coded. basically, if this doesn't get accepted on advogato, it doesn't matter: the default behaviour of this code will be the same as it is now.

Re: Technocrat -- what's its mechanism?, posted 21 Apr 2000 at 16:13 UTC by mojotoad » (Journeyer)

It is my understanding that Bruce reserves the right to edit or even delete submissions. I'm pretty sure this is retroactive in nature when it comes to posts. Article submissions go into a queue.

Re: It doesn't really matter that much, posted 21 Apr 2000 at 20:39 UTC by StevenRainwater » (Master)

Moving the (skill and/or trust) metric values to XML files is a good idea. That would make it easier to customize mod_virgule for different type of sites. And we need to move the metric seed values out to the config file too! When you're hacking on mod_virgule you usually have to set yourself as a seed value and it's real easy to forget to revert the change before preparing diffs.

certs/somemetricfile.xml, posted 22 Apr 2000 at 07:44 UTC by lkcl » (Master)

done that already [seeds into the file]. haven't put the maths or the weightings into the certs/somefile.xml, as i don't quite get that bit.

it also means that you can assess different schemes, on "live" data.

i also made it possible to enter "someoneelse" as the seed, and the output will go into tmetric/someoneelse/somemetric-results.xml. this means that you can make an assessement of other people from your *own* perspective.

Types of 'trust', posted 23 Apr 2000 at 20:08 UTC by lilo » (Master)

It seems to me that when we talk about 'trust' we are really talking about several things. In the sense this article means it, it's 'trust of identity.' That's an appropriate thing to measure.

But another appropriate measure would be 'trust to certify.' There are issues there. Someone can be very good at what they do, but bad at certifying. For example, a tendency to allow your feelings to get in the way of your evaluations makes for bad certification.

If certifications are relative to 'trust to certify', that actually makes the whole matter simpler. You certify whoever you want as you think best, and one trust metric for people you haven't interacted with is to look at how they certified the people you certified. The more similarities, the more you trust their judgement. Then you look at the exceptions as opportunities to reconsider your opinions.

Of course, this means that my view of Advogato certifications will be different from yours--there would be no absolute certifications. I'm not sure that would be a bad thing if certifications are a tool for judging competence, since judging competence has to be done by individuals, who then have to be happy with the results.

Possibly related research project..., posted 26 Apr 2000 at 14:27 UTC by Denny » (Journeyer)

Raph: This being your area of interest, you may well be aware of this project already, but I thought I'd post a link just in case you weren't...

They're doing research on how much trust people place in information and advice they find online...


Re: Types of 'trust', posted 26 Apr 2000 at 15:58 UTC by Raphael » (Master)

On 23 Apr 2000, lilo wrote:

It seems to me that when we talk about 'trust' we are really talking about several things. In the sense this article means it, it's 'trust of identity.' That's an appropriate thing to measure. But another appropriate measure would be 'trust to certify.' [...]

My article talks mostly about 'trust of identity', although some indirect references to 'trust to certify' crept in somehow. For example, I described the level 4 certification as: "...I am sure that this account really belongs to her. I am also convinced that this person will not harm Advogato." Same for the description of level 0. (By the way, I still haven't seen any suggestions for replacing these ugly level numbers by cool names.) In this case, trusting one person for using Advogato correctly also means that you trust that person for certifying others.

Maybe these two types of 'trust' should be clearly separated. Maybe not. Having two separate certifications for 'identity' and 'ability to certify others' could be nice, but I think that it is easier to mix both of them in a single certification. Not necessarily better; just easier.

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New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

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If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!

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