Re: anonymous collaborative filtering

From: Cliff Stabbert (
Date: Mon Sep 23 2002 - 07:28:49 MDT

Monday, September 23, 2002, 7:05:06 AM, Mitchell Porter wrote:

>>The concept is roughly this: a collaberatively filtered discussion
>>where *ideas* trump *people* by somehow having everything anonymous.
>>A sort of IRC channel or newsgroup without FROM: identifications. And
>>where *concepts* or posts furthering the discussion constructively
>>can get "voted up".

MP> Run Slashcode configured so that no one can create an account.
MP> That way, everyone is an Anonymous Coward.

Not quite what I mean...

MP> Would moderators strip sigs or identifying handles from messages,
MP> even if users deliberately included them? What about information
MP> that allows you to infer who the poster is (or claims to be)?

Like I said, I haven't yet figured out the details.

Here's a reformulation: a new discussion board-type technology where
the anonymous contributions become, through some form of collaberative
filtering/reordering/reformulation, a _single train of thought_.

Think of it as an attempt at pre-neural-interface human clustering.

MP> There's an ACM article called 'Disinformation theory', from
MP> around 1998, which argues that in an information society,
MP> no-one should expect anonymous communications to remain
MP> anonymous forever; if they are complex enough, it will be
MP> possible to infer the poster's identity.

Good point...but I'm imagining shorter, smaller fragments of thought
than would easily allow such analysis (which btw, IIRC is at this
point on its way to becoming established forensic technique) --
something on the scale of single paragraphs, single points, "single

My main thrust isn't the anonymity itself, but producing those single
threads of thought collectively. Something somewhat akin, perhaps, to
how two authors can collaborate on a piece of fiction -- refining and
hammering each paragraph, each chapter, the overall structure until
neither can even clearly point to "which bits" they wrote. But with
more people. I imagine anonymity as helpful in eliminating ego
effects; in the right context with the right people it may not be
absolutely necessary but I'd still opt for it because ego has a way of
sneaking up on you.

I still can't nail down the description of what I'm thinking of much
less come up with a method ;)

Two things that come to mind as threads to explore: mind mapping
software (googleable; I've seen better examples than at but it'll do for a start),
the "glass bead game" (also googleable, see e.g. and check the tour and main map).


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