He’s a Friend of Ours

March 25th, 2004  |  Published in Uncategorized

(or “Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta: Web Nerd Edition”)

kur05hin is moving to a “sponsored user” system:

The idea is this: someone creates a new account. They go through the normal email confirmation. At this point they cannot do anything. Before you have the privileges of a user, you must get an existing user to sponsor you. That just means that some user with the ability to sponsor others goes to a page and enters the new user’s nickname. These two are now associated, and if a user gets kicked off the site, their sponsor does too.

Sopranos fans will recognize this as the virtual equivalent of Tony introducing someone to his co-mobsters as “a friend of mine.” “Surely,” you think, “he meant to say ‘a friend of ours?'”

No. That’s reserved for made guys. Until you become a made guy, you’re just a connected guy, tolerated but not trusted:

Our hypothetical new user, after being sponsored, is now a full user of K5 in all senses but one. They can post comments and diaries, they can submit stories, they can vote and rate comments. The only thing they can’t do yet is sponsor other users. The criteria for this are adjustable, but I’m leaning toward a requirement of 60 days of sponsored membership and 40 positively-rated comments before you can sponsor others. Yes, that is a high bar. I think it should be pretty high. Also, you will be restricted to a maximum of something like two users sponsored per week.

So once you’ve passed the two thresholds (time as a user, making your bones with positive comments), you become a made guy who can put in a word for others (and then you start getting introduced around as a “friend of ours” at all the best gangster parties.

The death penalty for both sponsor and wayward initiate will be familar to anyone who’s ever seen the final reel of Donnie Brasco.

I’m guessing this is a massively overengineered version of what Phil says he’d like to see with TypeKey:

Depending on how it’s implemented, TypeKey plus MT 3.0 might actually let me do that: since it’s going to be possible to blacklist a TypeKey identity, it ought to be possible to instead whitelist the ones I know, and dump everyone else into moderation. Then, if I can get at moderated comments, I ought to be able to either display them as a placeholder, possibly linked to a hidden <div> with the comment, for the curious, or display them with HTML stripped until I’ve had a chance to look at them and see whether they are new friends or new unpersons.

and

I’ll blanket whitelist anyone from auth.burningbird.net, since a friend of yours is a friend of mine.

Or, I suppose you could say, “A friend of ours.”

I really like a web of trust model for commenting, less as a way of keeping people from participating (sites like kur05hin are in a different category from most weblogs, and they’re faced with different issues) but as a way to create an identity online that’s worth more than the two minutes it took to fill out a form and answer a verification mail. It’s skewing far into the territory of “ez-echo-chamber,” but no one ever said that a revolution in micropublishing would come bozo free.

For small fry like me, who can rattle off six other small fry with an equally small list of trusted friends and commenters, that’s a way to create a blogroll that really means something, based more on implicit declarations of trust than simple acquisitiveness.

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