META: traffic-limited list idea

Robin Hanson (
Fri, 11 Apr 1997 13:25:43 -0700 (PDT)

Lee Daniel Crocker suggests:
>To adapt this to a mailing list, the moderator of the list maintains
>a Chaumian digicash mint (here's where we need cypherpunks), in which
>the digicoins are /posting rights/, and are similarly exchangeable.
>If you're rich and don't have anything to say, email your coins to
>someone you find interesting. ... Posting to
>the unpaid list is something like lobbying for a grant.
>The details that need to be worked out are the specific method used
>for distributing and cashing in the coins. We might not even need
>something as complex as digicash: just issue coins as serial numbers,
>and tell people to put the number in brackets on line 1 of the post
>to spend it. The moderator might maintain a 'bot that issues the
>coins randomly to list members at a given rate, and he can control
>the rate to "inflate" the list if there's a good discussion going on,
>or slow its growth during quiet periods to avoid accumulation.
>One problem I forsee: since the above assumes 1 coin=1 post, there
>will be incentive to make long rambling single posts on multiple
>topics, so we may have to either set a fixed limit, or pay per page,
>or some other standard (but then quoting or attributing others costs
>you, so would discourage that).

I like this idea. It is worth trying; the main problem is getting
someone to implement it. So one should strive for a plausible
*simple* design.

I don't think the quoting issue is a big problem; authors who don't
quote enough won't be understood, and authors don't like that.
Similarly while a per page or line charge might be best, a per post
charge seems workable and much simpler; overly long posts will not get

A non crypto first implementation also seems fine. Just go down the
subscriber list at some rate sending out random ASCII strings of
length 30, which people can forward to whomever they like. The big
problem is not people stealing tokens from peeking at messages; it is
people creating new addresses to get more tokens. So I suggest tokens
only go to subscribers who have posted to the list within the last
month (or three months?), with the first post per such period being

Having tokens expire after some period might be more robust to dealing
with unknown accumlations of tokens. Then it would be fine to have a
target number of posts per week, and use a one or two week moving
average of the recent posting rate to adjust the rate of token

The token for a new post should probably go in a special header line.

Robin D. Hanson