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Re: Using S/MIME to Improve The Acceptance Of Our Work

1998-04-30 12:10:12
Not long ago a new registration for this group was for someone using the
alias of "happy hacker".  This started me thinking that we ought to
practice what we preach here, i.e., use S/MIME certificates which can be
verified through a trusted third party as a prerequisite for posting to
this forum.  While it may not be necessary for all observers/lurkers to
possess a valid S/MIME certificate, why should we trust postings from
individuals who are not willing to accurately identify themselves with
verifiable S/MIME signatures?

To which someone should ask: why?  What exactly would the point of this
be other than to shut out a potential set of contributors?  While "happy
hacker" may have caused you some alarm it did not bother me any more than
seeing a message with fascist overtones supposedly coming from "Robert
Frank, CEO of Open Commerce" (I guess we all have our own opinion of what
"open" means, don't we Mr. Frank?)

Additionally, at the moment and despite the best efforts of the subscribers
to this list, the selection of S/MIME software is far less ubiquitous than
you suggest.  Most of it is pretty damn ugly to use as well.  I suppose it
would be nice to force people to use some of what they are selling, but it
will not solve the problem which seems to be your concern; you will not end
up subscribed to a list of "true names."  The value of a posting to this list
is not found in the name attributed to it, you will find the value in the
content of the message.  

I will also point out that past efforts to make crypto/security lists practice
what they preach (e.g. PGP-only posting to some lists) ends up being very
counter-productive.  In the end what you will end up with is two lists: one
will be the original list with only S/MIME postings and few subscribers and
the other will be a list which gateways the S/MIME-only list but also allows
subscribers to post non-S/MIME messages.  The latter list will have most of
the traffic and subscribers (and if this proposal is taken seriously I guess
I will volunteer to code up and run the latter list.)

jim mccoy
Minister of Silly Protocols
Yahoo!, Inc.

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