Re: META: traffic-limited list idea

Kathryn Aegis (
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 21:51:32 +0000

Lee Daniel Crocker:
>Hansen's idea for fixed-time debates could be adapted to a mailing
>list like this to control list traffic and optimize quality of

I don't know if you got to read the last newsletter, but there will
be some changes coming to this list soon that are the result of much
discussion and thought about some recurrent problems.

While I agree with Robin on the base point that time has an economic
value and that it represents a resource that must be carefully managed
within a group, I fail to understand how rendering that into coinage of
any sort will solve the problems that plague group discussions,
because those problems usually stem from factors other than the amount
of time someone speaks.

>The total
>time of the debate is fixed, but who talks most depends on who
>the participants want to hear from most.

>From a design standpoint, for any facilitation process to be fully
effective, it must make accomodations for what is known as 'minority'
viewpoints, the word 'minority' referring both to the social standing
of the speaker and the popularity of a viewpoint. I could predict
a situation in which a few people are highly 'paid' to silence someone
else, akin to holding a filibuster. Or a situation in which the
economic incentive to garner more 'coins' leads to the development of
opposing factions that stall collaborative discussion.


Kathryn Aegis

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. If you're poor and want to post, beg
for coins from others. Or another possibility is to archive every
message sent, paid for or not, but only distribute the paid ones;
then anyone with more time who wanted to could browse the unpaid
archive and send mail to some poster saying "I liked this, and I'll
pay for you to post it to the main list." That way we eliminate
begging by email, which might make some uncomfortable. 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.

The minimal setup is this: two distribution lists (paid and unpaid),
a robot at the list address that splits the messages and cashes the
the coins, a robot that issues the coins, two Web archives. Perhaps
better is to have a robot actually keep track of all the coins and
who owns them, so that users won't lose them--that would require
them to go to a web page form to give a coin to another list member.
Perhaps some user software to simplify the process would be nice.

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).

Any ideas how to fix those incentives, or other ideas?

Lee Daniel Crocker <>  <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC