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Finally a way to prove who you really are and weed out fakes
For years we have been writing away under pseudonyms. This constitutes a confessional of sorts, where we share our thoughts without the filters required in
non-anonymous communication. This does result in some noise of its own, but it also results in an accumulation of our values and beliefs which
cannot be easily
evidenced outside this setting.
In cryptography, there is the concept of public and private keys. Central to this scheme is the idea of identity. If people cannot prove who they are, the whole
scheme falls apart. In this scheme trust relies mostly on individuals vouching for each other. The idea is that if a few people I trust can vouch for you, that means
I can trust you as well, and there is a whole infrastructure built for automating this process. The way really committed people have gone about this is by meeting
in public and personally exchanging IDs and keys. This works if you can spot a fake ID, or if you have the resources to conduct background checks, but what if
you don't have the resources? What if they don't have a fake ID? What if they are just a mole trying to gain access to your network so that they can pass off
your information to another agency seeking to monitor your activity? How can you prove who anyone is? How can you prove who you really are? What
constitutes who you are?
That last question is different depending upon the application. When you are applying for credit, they look at your credit history. When you are getting a job, they
look at your job history. But what if you are joining an organization which wants to verify your beliefs? Can you demonstrate a history of commitment to a
certain set of core beliefs?
What I propose is a system of consensual surveillance.
When you meet, you exchange essay questions, and you each spend an hour writing answers to the essay questions under each other's supervision. You then
part ways. The writing samples are then compared against links to writing examples on the Internet going back as far as possible which you will also provide
each other with. You may choose to use some writing analysis software for this purpose, in the interest of time. This exchange of links to writing examples is
done 1-for-1 basis. If what you see in the first link is compelling both in terms of content and date, you ask for another link, and you give them another of yours.
This is to protect both participants against parties just looking for loads of private info. After enough writing examples going back far enough have been gleaned,
you have hundreds of pages of text spanning decades which are certifiably written by the person you met with. This text will show a certain evolution in writing
style, vocabulary, belief and thought. Explanations of any dramatic about-faces on one issue or another will be easily evaluated since it will be concerning the
narrow set of common interest you are interested in.
Suppose this is a Rick Astley music fan club. You might find that the person spent the previous 20 years posting to boy-band websites and fan page message
boards. You might find that they simply did not demonstrate enough enthusiasm for Rick Astley, or defend his talent tooth and nail against dismissive criticism of
smug music snobs. In short, you might find this applicant simply does not make the cut. You will simply not certify that person as a Rick Astley Fan.
Now I know what you are thinking. What if someone is a legitimate convert? It is unfair and short-sighted to exclude them. I am not proposing to be able to
solve the problem in all cases. There may be other ways to certify people in those cases, but there is no reason a Rick Astley fanclub should leave themselves
open to interlopers. They can still be on the press office mailing list, but they cannot enter the inner sanctum of the cult.
Sorry, I had to.
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Nov 02 2012]
There's no need to believe... [spidermother, Nov 05 2012]
... especially with one of these! [spidermother, Nov 05 2012]
||But I know that [8th] hates cats, and I like him anyway, without reading his essay.
People who are fake stand out like a sore thumb!
||The older version of myself could hold a long,
detailed, thoughtful argument with my younger self
over a great many issues. Converts happen every
||But what if I really am a fake?
||Well, at least everybody already knows I'm fake. That will
save me a lot of time.
||You get to choose what you do with what you find out, but at least there
is some way for real rick Astley fans to prove they are real to other rick
True, it is unfair to converts, but so is credit and job history.
||"People who are fake stand out like a sore thumb!"
||Not if they're good at it. They could have an excuse like that they have
been living in the Alaskan tundra for the last 10 years. They can also
gloss over their fakeness by offering lots of support to the Rick Astley
||Bun for the name "fishboner".
||//Can you demonstrate a history of commitment to a certain set of core beliefs?// "Belief" is a strong concept, and commitment to any beliefs could be seen as voluntary self delusion, and not necessarily a good thing. Just sayin'.
||This system can also be used to demonstrate a
history of exceptionally flighty belief, or non-belief.
||Thank you, I was feeling left out ;-) (link).
||And what happens when you get a schismatic break in the Rick Astley fan club? You'll have two, or more, groups claiming to be the legitimate lovers of all things Astley and refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of any other group.
||This is precisely the kind of problem this system is
good for. Schisms are caused by a specific bone of
||You can make sure they are the "real kind" of fan.