[tech] Managing un-moderated account creation and it's side-effects

Mansfield Mansfield mansfield at ondollo.com
Thu Jan 7 04:38:32 GMT 2021


Hello!

I've been enjoying the gemini-space and I'm excited that this email signals
my attempt to join more vocally. Hopefully my attempts to support Gemini
end up being acceptable or at the least agreeable. :-)

I've been working on a server and client for Gemini and I'm nearing the end
of what I wanted to explore in my implementations... but I have a few
questions that I'd love some help thinking through. I'd like to cover one
of those questions in this email.

One of my goals has been to have a client / server pairing that
supports helping non-technical users go from downloading a client to
posting content as quickly and painlessly as possible. In my mind this
means allowing new accounts to be created *without* moderating their
creation... which leaves me wondering how I might respond to side-effects
like any unwelcome content (illegal, offensive, spam, etc.).

I understand that walking down a path that allows un-moderated account
creation is asking for trouble. I'm still interested in exploring
the possibilities to see if a compromise might be found for
my implementations.

One of the options I'm considering is to restrict the number of posts a new
account can make. Say, only "one page"? This wouldn't remove *all* negative
side-effects, but seems to discourage some abuse and facilitate any
clean-up since there'd only be one 'thing' to remove.

Another option is to limit the *kind* of content that a new account can
provide. Say, no links? This could curtail a type of side-effect
(facilitating access to external content through my domain/server), but not
entirely, since text/gemini *without* explicit links could just as easily
be a link-in-plain-text that is copied and used somewhere else.

A third option I'm considering is to limit the visibility of the content
that a new account can provide. I've written an HTTP server that provides
access to the Gemini content, so, maybe I disallow any content from
accounts less than say, 1 month old? If a new account were showing promise
as a positive contributor I could manually enable it sooner than a month...
a sort of default-deny with a manual-allow. Content could of course still
be viewed through a Gemini-specific client, just not through a web browser.

The last option I've been mulling over is to just accept the side-effects,
but that feels too much like an ends-justify-means approach which I find
weak as a motivation... but... I *almost* prefer encouraging communication
and creation enough to endure negative side-effects.

I guess one way to sum up the sharp corner I'm trying to round-off is that
I have two goals that seem to oppose each other: encourage creation of
content *and* discourage creation of 'wrong' content. I'm very sensitive to
this concept of 'wrong' content too... (I'm *very* uninterested in limits
to agency, but there's the swinging fists and noses point in the middle of
that)... but that's a different discussion.

I have memories of some server implementations simply requiring manual
account creation approvals, which, as mentioned, is what I'm hoping to
avoid... I *know* this is a tough complication. As some additional
information, all I have set up as required for account creation is to
provide a certificate. I plan on using the subject-common-name and first
few characters from the generated fingerprint as the account name... so...
no email verification, and no way to know if some spammer is just creating
a bunch of new accounts for similar purposes.

There's more thought I've had, but I'll stop rambling there.

Thanks for reading this far. :-D

Thoughts?
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