[tbb-bugs] #16665 [Tor Browser]: Circuit visualizer needs a cue about guards

Tor Bug Tracker & Wiki blackhole at torproject.org
Tue Feb 16 19:38:05 UTC 2016

#16665: Circuit visualizer needs a cue about guards
 Reporter:  lunar                                |          Owner:  tbb-
     Type:  enhancement                          |  team
 Priority:  Medium                               |         Status:
Component:  Tor Browser                          |  needs_revision
 Severity:  Normal                               |      Milestone:
 Keywords:  tbb-usability, tbb-circuit-display,  |        Version:
  TorBrowserTeam201602                           |     Resolution:
Parent ID:                                       |  Actual Points:
  Sponsor:                                       |         Points:

Comment (by Spencer):


 Been following the entry guard and circuit visualization work for some
 time and would like to share some thoughts.

 People often come to me confused that the first Tor node in the circuit
 was always (often) the same, as well.  However, their intention is to
 change that.

 > getting the UX right is a non-trivial thing

 Not true.  People expect the circuit path to change, so let them change it
 at will, through the interface.

 > Like a “Change Guard” button?

 This is a wonderful resolution, and resolves issues with another related
 topic, persistent vs non-persistent guards, that is best resolved here up-

 > Forcing a new guard is bad .. such feature would do more harm than good

 It is unclear how being able to control the separation of identities is a
 bad thing.

 Location correlation is a real issue.

 > patch avoids the confusion described in this ticket

 It feels like the goal is to resolve, not avoid.

 > There should be an easy way for users to determine their guard node.

 The circuit visualizer (:

 Controlling it from here could be useful, too.

 > hard to tell the user that there is something to hover in the first

 Discoverability is quite underusable.

 > (?)

 This is very unclear.

 > most people who ask why .. are not going to click an extra link to learn

 Not true.  If the text is more descriptive than 'Learn More', then people
 who want to know more about circuits have a quick link to do so.

 'Learn about Tor circuit selection' or something short but sweet could
 work quite well.

 > A short text message that shows up when hovering over a (?)

 The strings currently consist of a bullet, a descriptor, and an IP
 address.  Adding a (?) and some resulting text, even on hover, becomes
 quite cluttery.

 The 'Learn More' context of one clear link seems like the most suitable
 resolution, given the stated concerns, though a more verbose descriptor is

 > I don't like the “Learn more” approach as it's quite far from the Guard

 It isn't about learning about the individual guards as much as it is about
 understanding the intended functionality of the circuit; why is the first
 node staying the same, or, how do exits work, for example.

 How can the interface inherently educate about these things.

 > send people to a new page just for a short message

 This seems like the biggest issue with a link.

 Overall, the guard selection algorithm is fine but the theoretical
 equation (c/n)2 ignores that if the entry guard is malicious then it
 becomes more harmful than having one or two connections deanonymized.

 Easy access to both the information and the ability to control the
 experience is valuable.

Ticket URL: <https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/16665#comment:31>
Tor Bug Tracker & Wiki <https://trac.torproject.org/>
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