[tor-talk] Why Johnny Can't Blow the Whistle

gnorcie gnorcie at indiana.edu
Tue Feb 25 17:53:24 UTC 2014

Hi all,

A couple summers ago, I published a usability evaluation of the TBB at 
hotpets, where myself and my coauthors IDed several usability issues in 
the TBB:


Afterwards, several changes to the TBB were made (for example, changing 
the Firefox icon to a custom icon).

I recently published a follow up to the HOTPets paper at USEC where we 
redid the usability experiment to verify that the changes that had been 
made to the TBB after our initial publication actually did increase 


We also explored the idea of a pop up informing users that delay was 
happening, and that is normal. We saw a decrease in complaints about 
browser delay in the second study, but it wasn't statistically 
significant. We think the fact that users found the number of pop ups 
excessive may explain why this issue didn't decrease as much as we'd 
hoped. We'd like to look at this in more detail in the future... we 
strongly think that reframing expectations will make users less 
frustrated with Tor's speed.

While our pop up ideas didn't work out as planned, we're still happy 
that we can now point to empirical data that shows our suggested changes 
do increase usability.

I've also uploaded the slides from USEC, which have some graphs not 
present in the paper due to space issues that help visualize some of the 
data. All  the data is in the paper, but it's presented a little nicer 
here: http://www.slideshare.net/gregnorc/why-johnny-cant-blow-the-whistle
Greg Norcie
PhD Student, Security Informatics
Indiana University

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