[tor-dev] Proposal for improving social incentives for relay operators

Virgil Griffith i at virgil.gr
Tue Jun 10 00:26:28 UTC 2014

For a while I've been seeking to grow the Tor network in both size and
goodput.  Towards this end, I've explored various avenues such as
increasing user-awareness via tor2web.  More recently, I've been exploring
financial incentives like TorCoin.

Not wanting to strictly limit ourselves to financial incentives, I began
reading the literature on incentivizing volunteers.  The most relevant
papers I found are:

* http://www-2.rotman.utoronto.ca/facbios/file/LMS2_ManSci-Paper-Final.pdf
 * http://pareto.uab.es/~prey/gneezy_254.pdf
* https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/3308162/Slonim%202013.pdf

The most relevant of these papers (Lacetera 2013) cites the major
motivations for volunteer labor are: "pure altruism, warm glow, self-image,
and reputation".  Upon reading this I realized TorCoin's technical
interestingness had blinded me to much easier to leverage motivations of
"warm glow" and "reputation".

I propose the following system for harnessing "warm glow" and "reputation"
for Tor relay operators.  I am willing to fund this in its entirety.

I propose establishing a subdomain on torproject.org giving each Tor relay
operator (hereafter affectionately called "Torati") his/her own page using
the information her machines provide to the Tor Directory Consensus.  The
fields to show on her "Torati profile page" would be things like:
ContactInfo, PGP fingerprint, list of server nicknames, date the Directory
Authorities first saw her contact info, etc.  You can also imagine a
receiving special "special recognition stars" for operating an exit or
bridge node.  Moreover, some bandwidth measurement like EigenSpeed or
TorCoin gain traction, the Torati page could recognize contributors with by
listing the sum total she has relayed to the Tor network.

Naturally a node can opt-out of Torati recognition by setting a parameter
in the torrc file.

I argue this would be a cheap and easy way to motivate operators to
volunteer more bandwidth for the Tor network.  As mentioned before, I am
willing to fund this in its entirety.

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