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Re: Los Angeles Times article on Helsingius and anon.penet.fi

In <[email protected]>, on 09/08/96 at 10:14 AM,
   Enzo Michelangeli <[email protected]> said:

>On Sat, 7 Sep 1996, Hallam-Baker wrote:

>> There is a massive difference between anonymous speech and anonymous
>> transactions. Anonymous speech can create problems (defamation etc.)
>> but in the main these are not problems the courts are particularly
>> good at dealing with.

>Perhaps, but defamation is an issue that can't be ignored either,
>especially if one tries to build systems based on reputation.

Actually it can. :)

There are already checks and balances in dealing with defamation. Take the following example:

I post a message stating that Phil Zimmerman is a @#$! and that PGP is full of holes.

The immediate responce I would receive from the group would be some rather nasty flames, a couple of questions, most would ignore. Because Phil has a much greater reputation than I do such a blatant defamation would do my reputation much harm while doing his little or no harm. It may actually improve his reputation by the many follow up posting re-affirming his good reputation and his quality product. The only way I could get away with such a message would be to back it up with some strong proof
and the support of others with equal or greater reputation as Phil.

Now if I anonymously post the same message.

The results would be the same as above only no one but the truly "net clueless" would pay any attention to the message. It would be seen as a "troll" and be dealt with accordingly. Once again no damage has been done to Phil's reputation.

Now where things get intrusting is when the rolls are reversed.

Say Phil posts a message that I am a @#[email protected]%!!! and my product is full of holes and that I am realy a NSA stooge.

Many at first would take Phil's word at face value because his reputation is much better than mine. It is only my fault that my reputation is not equal or greater than his. Because of this I now have two choices, I can stay and fight for the harts and minds of the group or I can pack up my toys and go home.

Say I decide to fight. After much work, & many messages I prove that Phil's statements are untrue & manage to convert the group to my side. My reputation has now been greatly inhanced and Phil's reputation has suffered.

In the current system if one repetitively post slander to a group his reputation will be distroyed beyond all repair. There is a genuine disincentive against slander in a system built on reputation. No additional "forces" are needed. The addition of libel laws would actually hurt such a system. The threat of a libel suite could be used to inhibit debate on a topic or questioning of ones reputation. 

William H. Geiger III  http://www.amaranth.com/~whgiii
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