[tor-dev] User perception of the prop224 domain format

Alec Muffett alec.muffett at gmail.com
Wed Sep 27 22:12:46 UTC 2017

On 27 September 2017 at 22:25, Ben Laurie <ben at links.org> wrote:

> Your survey is obviously massively biased towards users of Tor. It
> would be really interesting to know what non-users think.

 Yes and no; I can totally see that from a user-experience perspective, it
would be exciting research to rock up to someone and say:

    "Here's a really long URL, how does it make you feel?"

…and (at least) in this matter, Prop224 Onion addresses are subjectively
less intimidating than:


…even though both of them are representations of Layer-3/similar
machine-readable addresses*

*However*, there is such a thing as "inviting people to beat you up in such
a way as to draw media criticism without plausible likelihood for
constructive input", and I feel that this would be onesuch.

Experiential evidence:

1) the number of people who've told me in-past that Email addresses are
unusably unmemorable, except somehow 30..40 years later we are still using
them, and have developed coping strategies, eg: address books.

2) the number of people who've told me in-past that IPv4 addresses are
unusably unmemorable, except for and which somehow are
enough for people to bootstrap access to the rest of the internet, and use
various coping strategies (eg: DNS, bookmarks)

3) the number of people who've told me in-past that Old-Style Onion
addresses are unusably unmemorable, until (as mentioned above) Facebook and
a few other good ones got mined, and people started taking Onion networking
mildly seriously as a means of more-secure enterprise communication… Oh,
and bookmarks as a coping strategy.

4) phone numbers. unusably unmemorable. coping strategies: in-phone address
books + address-book synchronisation. etc etc etc.

So: can we do better with Onion UX? Certainly.

Should we research improvements to user experience? Absolutely.

Should Tor invite opinionated people to come piss all over its equivalent
of https://[2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334]/foo.html? Probably
not. Just my opinion. I don't feel it would benefit anyone except (a)
haters, and (b) academics who research only "what doesn't work" because
researching "what /does/ work" is beyond the scope of their funding.


* explanatory thread:

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.torproject.org/pipermail/tor-dev/attachments/20170927/3a978215/attachment.html>

More information about the tor-dev mailing list