Don Marti

Sat 12 Feb 2011 09:40:50 AM PST

Standards for an Off Topic web board?

Hmm. Jon Corbet suggests that LWN readers need a place to move political discussions. But the problem with general-purpose politics boards in the USA is that they tend to get infested with ill-informed people.

So what if there were an Off Topic board that required some minimal skill to post?

Require some minimal awareness of web privacy: the new account page would include a single-pixel ".swf" from another domain. If your browser fetches it, you don't even see the new account form.

To confirm your account, you have to ssh in. (This is also how you can do painless password recovery: ssh and you get a URL that will put you into a new session.) Good ssh/web integration at: how gitolite uses ssh

Other possibilities for a basic skill test are: change User-Agent, read an HTTP header, send mail with a header set, or "eval" a code fragment. But just block a hinky .swf and ssh to confirm should weed out most of the problem posters.

a small discussion

How many people that are reasonably intelligent have the skills to do all those things? There are lots of people in the free software community who are intelligent and capable of reasonable discussion who don't have skills in particular areas, such as for example reading and manipulating HTTP headers.

Of the people who could conceivably do that, how many would bother? It seems that getting such a discussion forum going would be hard as few people would be willing to jump through the hoops before it gets somewhat popular (obviously becoming very popular isn't a desire).

Of course if the aim isn't really to have a political discussion but to instead force people to consider the political and privacy issues of the Internet then it would probably work well.

Comment by Russell_Coker Sat 12 Feb 2011 03:34:25 PM PST
Graduated testing
Using ssh for login or at least password reset would be a win all the way around, since it would avoid having to do email notifications. But the others could be optional, or maybe a way for new users without a posting history to get reputation points.
Comment by dmarti Mon 14 Feb 2011 07:05:51 AM PST