[tor-dev] Email Bridge Distributor Interactive Commands

isis isis at torproject.org
Fri Jul 25 00:57:39 UTC 2014

Nima Fatemi transcribed 4.0K bytes:
> isis:
> [...]
> >> Are some of our least technical users, many of whom have never even seen a
> >> command line before and who may live in Sub-Saharan Africa or one of the
> >> Stan countries with only a rudimentary knowledge of English going to
> >> understand the difference between vanilla bridges and, say, chocolate almond
> >> bridges? Wouldn't it be better to choose terms that at least translate into
> >> something resembling what they actually mean?
> > 
> > Noted. What to call bridges without any pluggable transports has been argued
> > about for years, with the result that everyone ended up calling them different
> > things all over the place, which I believe is worse.
> > 
> > Eventually, everyone figured out what "obfsproxy" meant, even if they didn't
> > understand how it worked, nor how to pronounce it. My hope is that a
> > consistent usage of consistently confusing and untranslatable terminology will
> > eventually produce predictable and steadily decreasing levels of user
> > confusion.
> > 
> > Should the interface say "get transport unhuggable", perhaps? The obvious
> > choices were:
> > 
> >  1. `get tor bridges` / `get transport tor`
> >          This is no good because it could potentially cause users to
> >      erroneously think that pluggable transport bridges somehow aren't using
> >      tor.
> > 
> >  2. `get plain bridges`
> >          I think this one is bad because people might assume that this one is
> >      somehow plaintext, especially if the string were to be translated.
> > 
> > Do you have a better suggestion for what to call "vanilla bridges"?
> > 
> I think "bridges" works just fine for "vanilla bridges" and I want to
> take the opportunity to +1 Philipp's idea on looking for keywords
> instead of commands, regardless of how they're phrased.

Actually, we do look for keywords! [0][1] This is why you can currently do:

  get ipv6 transport scramblesuit

And if BridgeDB had any scramblesuit bridges with IPv6 addresses (it doesn't,
AFAIK), it would give them to you (if it felt like it).

Typing `get bridges` *does* get you vanilla bridges; you don't have to type
the word "vanilla" (but if you did, it would still give you vanilla bridges).

I'm just trying to have something to call them, which is clear immediately
that I mean a normal Tor bridge without any tranports. When someone says "i
have a problem connecting to a bridge", the first question is always "are you
using transports? if so, which one?". Calling them "vanilla bridges" saves one
RT in the Q&A game.

> For instance, if someone emails BridgeDB with "please send me some
> bridges" it should reply with a list of "vanilla bridges". or if someone
> emailed the word "obfs" and nothing else, the bot should return a list
> of obfs3 bridges.
> PS: why are we still shipping obfs2 bridges?!

tl;dr: Because we have them.

Imagine a bunch of kids in Halloween costumes. If every kid dressed up in the
same zombie costume, you'd still be able to easily tell the kids apart because
some are taller, and some of them maybe that green makeup stuff doesn't stick
so well to their face, and some of them have longer hair or higher voices than

Now imagine the same group of kids and everyone's wearing a different
costume. Some kids have stilts or are standing on some other kid's
shoulders. Some kids have super crazy fancy rubber masks with builtin vocoders
to pitch shift their voices. Some have pogo sticks and wigs and fake blood and
lazers. With all this madness going on, it's too much to keep track
of. Hopefully. And while maybe one costume isn't the best disguise for a
certain kid, we shouldn't necessarily pull the costume out of the closet and
toss it away; the point is that we're trying to make the censors, spooks, and
spies do a hell of a lot of work to figure out what's going on underneath all
this insanity.

> Bests,
> -- 
> Nima
> 0XC009DB191C92A77B | @nimaaa | mrphs
> "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right
> to say it" --Evelyn Beatrice Hall

[0]: https://gitweb.torproject.org/bridgedb.git/blob/HEAD:/lib/bridgedb/email/autoresponder.py#l43
[1]: https://gitweb.torproject.org/bridgedb.git/blob/HEAD:/lib/bridgedb/email/request.py#l86

 ♥Ⓐ isis agora lovecruft
GPG: 4096R/A3ADB67A2CDB8B35
Current Keys: https://blog.patternsinthevoid.net/isis.txt
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