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On Net.Etiquette

26-Apr-19 11:25 am EDT Leave a comment

Recently, I had another discord.gg altercation which has seen me withdraw completely from the chat service for the foreseeable future. Admittedly, I’m growing weary of the “clique” mentality that pervades the system, and in particular with the emotions of those involved somehow growing so completely out of control (from my perspective) that, initially at least, there’s little sense to be made of it. It’s not that the complaints people may have are totally without merit (although invariably they are coming from a what seems a narrowly-defined group). It’s that I can’t understand how something like an inadvertent breach of etiquette could lead to someone becoming so angry as to label another person as ‘evil’ or ‘irredeemable’ — particularly when the consequences of doing so may simply lead to others who don’t share their own extreme reaction as feeling uncomfortable or out of place. Another consequence to this are those who react this way becoming stressed out themselves, which is the last thing I want to contribute to.

I’m writing about this issue with a degree of historical perspective and as someone who finds human beings conflicted, irrational and difficult to understand in most cases. This can lead to intolerance, belligerence and worse behaviours in some; although I must make the point that this isn’t a defense of my own behaviour nor intended to characterize me as “the victim”. But a recent straw poll of those in my own life (and on social media) leads me to conclude the people generally feel that when there’s evidence someone has violated a convention or social norm they should be spoken to instead of ostracized. So why has the discord service proven to be so different for me?

Once upon a time, many years back, there was a form of what’s now considered “social media” called NNTP or network news. At the time, it was unbeknownst to myself and my first business partner posting advertisements or discourse related to one’s own business ventures was considered “poor etiquette”. So when we decided to announce our new consulting business opening up online, we were somewhat shocked at the response being almost universally negative. Here we were trying to make a valued contribution and getting effectively black-listed for going about it the wrong way. Of course nowadays, the NNTP-like service called Reddit is host to ads aplenty and the etiquette changed radically — not necessarily because people started clamouring for ads to appear at some point. Regardless of how it came to be, what once yielded hate e-mail spamming ones mailbox changed to “acceptable” behaviour.

This isn’t to say that at some future date streaming a discord server won’t go the same way. (It probably won’t, in fact.) But auto-streaming to twitch, YouTube or Mixer (or any of 50 other services) is growing in popularity and contributes value by donating content. It might not be the most popular content, but it is a form of content contributed for the general consumption of all. Add to this the streaming brokers like OBS or Mixer (I think they have a utility that streams to their online site as well as YouTube) or others providing a means of controlling how and what content is presented and you have a recipe for updates to influence what gets published; all potentially without the direct knowledge of the presenter. Or perhaps one of the hundreds of discord updates that occur every year impacts presentation in an unfamiliar or unexpected way.

And then if this scenario prevails and people’s voices were heard from a discord server in a stream without advance permission: we have an apparent breach of etiquette with evidence. It might seem perfectly legitimate to consider me guilty of surreptitiously trying to broadcast content behind the backs of those on a private server, right?

Ignoring for a moment that “secretly” trying to do anything in public online is at best contradictory and at worst outright stupid, the question persists does such a breach of etiquette warrant labelling as “irredeemable” or even being kicked out of a social group (even one online)? And without being given the opportunity to try to explain what might have happened or examine the evidence particularly when the offending party had thought he’d been given permission at one point to continue a stream with parties on the server in question present (although I’d taken such permission to apply only to one specific stream — not a carte blanche permission to stream all the content that would ever be posted)? Evidence alone as it appeared was enough all without context.

For these reasons, it is my view that discord generally needs to be taken down a notch. It simply isn’t right that people are targeted in this fashion. And I did speak with a number of others who’d either themselves experienced the “clique” mentality I’m speaking of or who had been banned from servers (thus separating them from social groups) on the basis of what may seem dubious circumstances involving many different social dynamics. But to summarize, I posit that a violation of etiquette is not just cause to start slandering or hating your fellow human beings.

Discord, for its part, may not be to blame here in any way. There are those who want to “burn the whole world down” and do nothing but cause trouble and mayhem. That’s why discord lets you ban people, fundamentally, I think. Another chat service several years ago called “IRC” seemed to not have these same problems. But if people react in a rational fashion to social challenges and use the technology in a constructive way I think discord could be a very useful and powerful tool indeed.

Right now, it just seems to promote cliques and clique behaviour. And I question who, if anyone, that’s helping.

I should at this juncture for my growing English audience (or so the analytics say) make a few quick points to address potential interest:

  • if I did a stream on the discord Elite server in question, it was more out of habit and typically with a mind to disable channel dialogue from making to the broadcast (although in 1 case I believe it was deliberate)
  • if a deliberate streaming happened, it was done under the following circumstances:
    • I thought I had permission to do so, and/or
    • I didn’t think it a serious breach of etiquette at the time for some mindless reason; and
    • I have streamed on other servers before, including my own without issue.
    • NO EFFORT was made to sneak it by without the group’s awareness (as should be evidenced by it being public, unless you truly think me THAT stupid)
  • it may also be relevant to keep in mind that discord visualizations (which until tonight I wasn’t even aware were activated) DO NOT transmit into the V/R environment without the involvement of 3rd party software, which I do not use; those who think the profile icons of users on the server should somehow have clued me into what was going on are incorrect
  • I’ve counted 3 cases total during my own investigation, thus far, where streaming occurred and these are, at the admin’s “cease and desist” request, removed. If there are still others unaccounted for, you should:
    • send a message to me using discord or, if you have it, my commander’s email address with the URL included
    • notwithstanding the above deletions, there were a total of 9 sessions auto-cast to YouTube from the date I first stated using the server, to my best recollection; most of which seemed free of offending traffic
  • I will continue investigating all content and re-post sessions thought to be free of dialogue from the discord server in question.

On my YouTube channel, there was one case where I’d mistakenly cited the availability of this server as part of a larger service offering. I’ve posted a comment to the video (with highlighted reference on the video itself using YouTube’s rather broken tools for text editing overlays) citing the reference and this correction, but I do so again here to come completely clean on the subject.

I believe it is important for all to keep in mind that each of us is human and quite fallible. Pointing out errors tactfully isn’t the problem, however. We’re all capable of mistakes and errors in judgement, both on and off discord. And as Facebook scandals continue to erupt (something that’s likely to persist for the foreseeable future), chat services like discord are likely to only increase in popularity. Hopefully, as this type of social media grows we can all adopt standards of behaviour and etiquette that will serve to keep people growing their communities instead of limiting ourselves to serving baser instincts.

Let’s try to end “cancel culture”.

Fly safe, commanders!

Keybase Brings Free Security to Novice Users

02-Sep-17 11:59 pm EDT Leave a comment
P

GP encryption is not new – quite the opposite.  But it’s always had one big advantage over its leading competitor: S/MIME.  S/MIME is used to encrypt email using certificate-based, 3rd-party authentication whereas PGP relies on dual, private/public key encryption.  And thanks both to S/MIME gaining commercial vendor support relatively early, coupled with being easier than the open-source-supported PGP (with relatively primitive tools that required some degree of technical competency to master); those wanting to encrypt email easily had to deal with investing in 3rd party certificates that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars before the feature was available.

KeybaseThanks to Edward Snowden, we’re all now pretty-well acquainted with the notion we’ve lost privacy and will likely never get it back.  But even so, that doesn’t mean the government (or God-knows-who nowadays) ought to have carte blanche to read chats, emails or become privy to what you’re downloading via bitTorrent or what cash you’re exchanging with parties online.  (At least not until tax time.)  And a tool that works on all platforms big and small, like Keybase, is now available to assist with all of the above!

To begin, it’s best to start on a Mac or Windows environment – somewhere where the configuration utility can operate.  The system does a pretty decent job of talking one through the process of setting up one’s first PGP (security) keys and getting the app installed.  However, one improvement for the future might be getting this utility (also called a “CLI” or “command-line interface”) to work within a web browser so one can perform the entire process using a hand-held device.  Once the software is installed, one finds installed an icon in their system tray (on Windows) which will present the list of users and some very heavily shaded icons (despite) which are used to access other parts of the Keybase app.  The CLI also has its own icon deployed to the Windows ‘Start’ menu and this is where you can quickly access many of the features associated with setup.  In my case, I already had PGP keys and so using the CLI was a necessary part of the setup.  Regardless, to get acquainted with the CLI and how it works with setup, I’d begin by loading up a copy of the “new user” docs in a web browser.  Then in the CLI utility, run two commands:

First, run “keybase help” to see what commands are instantly available to you as a new, unregistered user (there are a few), and

Second,, run “keybase signup”.

Finally, I’d quickly read through the “basic docs” you have open in your browser and drill down into any areas where you have questions.  Still more questions about Keybase and maybe PGP?  I strongly advise you get a Reddit account if you’ve not already got one and access the group called r/Keybase.  You’ll find this well-trafficked!

Although the Keybase app (accessed from the system tray) links to several choice apps, PGP is extremely versatile and plug-ins exist for Microsoft Outlook 2016 (and earlier) and is used with numerous other applications.

If there is a down-side to the app, there is a concern that — since a Keybase account can be used with several keys — it could be possible for someone to associate 2 keys (which typically involve two email addresses being known) together and thereby create an identity profile on a Keybase user.  This is a security concern, although an obvious workaround would be to register PGP keys to separate Keybase accounts and thereby never expose oneself.  Keybase itself claims it never advertises personal details, but if one connects to another user (say, for secure chat) and exchanges their public key; in such a case the potential would exist for that 3rd party to disclose your email at their discretion.  (This itself isn’t a security flaw, but it is something to be mindful of when exchanging data security regardless of the means used.)

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