[tor-dev] Email Bridge Distributor Interactive Commands

Matthew Finkel matthew.finkel at gmail.com
Sun Jul 20 18:52:44 UTC 2014

Hi everyone,

A short time ago BridgeDB learned how to accept some more commands via
email[0]. Below is an example of the current help/overview autoresponse
email[1] that users receive (in English, we do have translations).

These commands may not be optimal, so we'd love to be given feedback on
this so we can improve it. Currently, with the recent changes, we
require all commands begin with 'get' and then we check which keyword
follows it ('bridges', 'transport', 'help', 'key', etc). This certainly
makes the parsing logic easy (and I am a fan of KISS), but it may be
true that this is a bit too strict and decreases its usability. Would
it be better if we were more lax? For example, instead of requiring:

    'get transport <TYPE>'

we change this to:

    '[[get] transport] <TYPE>'

Therefore the 'get' and 'transport' keywords are optional (and 'get' is
only used if you use 'transport'). <TYPE> is the pluggable tranport
method name you want the bridges to support.

I think this simplifies the user interaction but I don't know if it's
significant and to what extent most users care about this. It should
be mentioned that prior to the recent changes, sending a blank email
to bridges at bridges.torproject.org was equivilent to sending an email
that contained 'get bridges' because we didn't actually check for
'get bridges' at all, we do this now, though.

So, the questions I am posing to those in the community who has an
opinion about this: What do you think? What problems do you currently
have with this?  How can this be improved?


[0] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/7550

> Hey, <you>! Welcome to BridgeDB!
> COMMANDs: (combine COMMANDs to specify multiple options simultaneously)
>   get bridges            Request vanilla bridges.
>   get transport [TYPE]   Request a Pluggable Transport by TYPE.
>   get help               Displays this message.
>   get key                Get a copy of BridgeDB's public GnuPG key.
>   get ipv6               Request IPv6 bridges.
> Currently supported transport TYPEs:
>   obfs2
>   obfs3
>   scramblesuit
> BridgeDB can provide bridges with several types of Pluggable Transports[0],
> which can help obfuscate your connections to the Tor Network, making it more
> difficult for anyone watching your internet traffic to determine that you are
> using Tor.
> Some bridges with IPv6 addresses are also available, though some Pluggable
> Transports aren't IPv6 compatible.
> Additionally, BridgeDB has plenty of plain-ol'-vanilla bridges - without any
> Pluggable Transports - which maybe doesn't sound as cool, but they can still
> help to circumvent internet censorship in many cases.
> [0]: https://www.torproject.org/docs/pluggable-transports.html
>  --
>  <3 BridgeDB
> ______________________________________________________________________
> Public Keys: https://bridges.torproject.org/keys
> This email was generated with rainbows, unicorns, and sparkles
> for your at email.com on Sunday, 20 July, 2014 at 16:59:19.

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