[tor-relays] Bad idea to switch from a relay to a bridge?

Kostas Jakeliunas kostas at jakeliunas.com
Thu Nov 14 14:31:41 UTC 2013

On Thu, Nov 14, 2013 at 4:01 PM, Nick <tor-relays at njw.me.uk> wrote:

> Hi,
> I've been running a very low bandwidth relay for a little while with
> my home ADSL connection, but given the up speed is so poor, and
> (more importantly) my ADSL provider has stopped switching my IP
> about every 24 hours, I'd like to switch to be a bridge.
> However, I'm wondering whether the fact that my IP is already known
> as a relay means that it wouldn't be useful? That is, if the people
> bridges try to foil are likely to just blacklist any relays they see
> by default (it wasn't an exit or guard).

I think that's a very good question, I've been considering it myself as
well (as it also was at one point relevant to me, when I was running a
relay.) Would be interested to hear opinions.

I would think it's generally OK; I would try and change the nickname of
your Tor server (by 'server' I mean a generic node that can be either a
relay or a bridge.) There are some relays that can be found (when searching
via Onionoo, e.g. using Globe [1]) to be or have been both bridges and
relays. It is questionable whether there are any ISPs / filters / etc. who
might try to use this kind of archive browsing/discovery as one of the
channels for collecting bridge IP addresses, but it's possible in theory at
least. See related ticket. [2]

Thing is, when a bridge has once been a relay (under e.g. the same IP
address), it's possible to see if that address was ever Tor relay at one
point (if it was, some ISPs might use this as enough of a reason/criterion
for censoring out connections.) With current ExoneraTor and relay-search
it's not easy as you have to enter a date / date range etc., but the
information is there in the archives. For example, if you query my new(ish)
python-onionoo tool [3] which can search in most of the archival data
available, it's very easy to see if an IPv4 address was ever part of the
Tor network. [4] I think some discussion on this might be fruitful.

[1]: http://globe.rndm.de/
[2]: https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/ticket/5684
[3]: https://github.com/wfn/torsearch (though I need to write up a decent
[4]: e.g. http://ts.mkj.lt:5555/details?search=
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