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

Karsten Loesing karsten at torproject.org
Tue Jun 10 08:19:21 UTC 2014

[Attempting to move this discussion to tor-dev@ to avoid cross-posting;
assuming my Reply-To: header won't get eaten by Mailman..]

On 10/06/14 02:26, Virgil Griffith wrote:
> 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 last link is a 404.)

> 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.

Hi Virgil,

adding more/better incentives for people to run relays and bridges
sounds like a great plan!

What you describe sounds related to what I suggested last December on
this list:


> 9. Provide relay comparison metrics in Onionoo.  We could define some
> simple metrics on the usefulness of a relay, like provided bandwidth or
> uptime, in comparison to other relays.  A possible statement from these
> metrics could be: "your relay provides more bandwidth than 95% of relays
> in the network."  Similar to 8.  If Atlas [6] or Globe [8] or a
> yet-to-be-written Facebook application or a also-yet-to-be-written
> Twitter integration into Tor Weather (#10372) tell the world how
> successful someone's running Tor relays, maybe that encourages others to
> run relays, too.  We could even invent a points system for running
> relays, with additional points for running exits, if that makes the Tor
> network better.  Probably needs input from a community coordinator
> person.  (Orange part in the diagram.)
> [6] https://atlas.torproject.org/
> [8] https://globe.torproject.org/

Want to take a look at Onionoo and see whether it already provides the
information and functionality you need, and if not, open tickets for the
missing pieces?


But let me also give you some quick feedback on your proposal:

 - Why not make it entirely opt-in?  We could include a subscription
link in Weather's welcome messages that relay operators receive when
their relay first receives the Stable flag.

 - Where does the name "Torati" originate from?

All the best,

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