The 5 Ws of WoT

Updated November 2, 2016 to reflect latest bots.

Last December, immediately after reading MP’s seminal You’re gonna have to learn that variety speak,i I at once re-read it, re-re-read it, stared at it blankly, poured another cup of coffee, stared some more, and filed the piece away under “Important But Not Yet Understood”. It planted a seed but I couldn’t yet find my way to the water and sunlight. Now, on my IRC Yeshiva, I’m starting to put it together. A big part of that variety speak is, of course, WoT, so let’s tackle the Five Ws of the Web of Trust together:

Who ? Anyone who sees the value in building trusted online relationships and is willing to put in the effort to grow said relationships. WoT has uses within and without Bitcoin, though it could be argued that the reverse isn’t true.

What ? Based on PGP/GPGii, WoT is used to “accumulate keys from other people that you may want to designate as trusted introducers. Everyone else will each choose their own trusted introducers. And everyone will gradually accumulate and distribute with their key a collection of certifying signatures from other people, with the expectation that anyone receiving it will trust at least one or two of the signatures. This will cause the emergence of a decentralized fault-tolerant web of confidence for all public keys.”iii

Where ? The WoT is used wherever you and your computer, or at least you and your PGP/GPG keys, happen to be. It’s as mobile as you are.

When ? Right now, and continually since Phil Zimmerman put forth the idea in 1992. Twenty-two years and running!

Why ? Let’s let ben Popescu explain, with a little bit of How ? thrown in for good measure:

mircea_popescu: ;;rate mike_c 3 blogger, dev
gribble:iv Rating entry successful. Your rating of 3 for user mike_c has been recorded.

pankkake: Not with a rating of 3.
mircea_popescu: How do you know how I score things ?

pankkake: Is there a maximum ?
dexX7: 10 ?

mircea_popescu: 10.
pankkake:Thought it was 5. Maybe then.

mircea_popescu: It seems you’re labouring under the misapprehension that these ranks are sort-of like school marks. That’s not what they are. they’re statistical dampeners.
pankkake: No, I just take them as trust.

mircea_popescu: The only thing someone’s aggregate score tells you is how likely it is for you to have someone who knows him in your network. And the individual score is not “how trustworthy is this guy” but “how well i am acquainted with this guy”, ie, how valuable my input may be to a third party asking for references.
pankkake: I see.

mircea_popescu: So in this sense, pankkake, I can mark as 10 someone with whom I only do 0.001 trades, inasmuch as I judge that I can 100% describe them to whoever ask. Conversely I could keep someone at a 1 even if we trade millions, if it’s a hit and run affair and I couldn’t really tell them from Adam.
nubbins`: Interesting system.

mircea_popescu: It’s really how the WoT’s supposed to work.
TestingUnoDosTre: Intruiging. I’m confused though.

mircea_popescu: It’s a web of trust not a web of facebook likes.
TestingUnoDosTre: Let’s say your .001 trader comes around looking to trade 5. How do you judge his merit with your system ?

mircea_popescu: Suppose this guy comes to trade 5 with you. You don’t know him, but know me. So you come to me “Hey, what’s this guy worth in trust ?” and I tell you “We’ve done a bunch of 0.0001 trades and I trust him to so and so and back and forth” and you go “But specifically in this context ?” and i go “Well maybe X or maybe Y” etc. Lol it’s the thinking that makes it powerful tho. I can cut through the chase in about ten minutes because of it, and that’s quite why I’m so distrustful of various “Experts” and “CEOs” and whatnot that don’t have one.

So there you have it: the Who, What, Where, When, and Why of WoT.

For myself, I recently registered my PGP/GPG keys with #bitcoin-otc assbot deedbot and am in the process of earning my first ratings. It’s a process, but nothing worth doing is easy.

Let the fun begin!

___ ___ ___

  1. The thesis of MP’s article: “Learn to fucking talk the Variety speak. In Bitcoin this means IRC, WoT, and a small amount of phone number. And let this be perfectly clear to you, that if you haven’t as much as found Variety, you’re not a “mover & shaker” in Bitcoin, you’re that weird dude working odd jobs that tells starlets he’s a producer. You know, like Kramer, CEO of Kramerica Industries. “We only provide fantasy corporate experience.” So if you’ve already followed me into the IRC, the next step is WoT. So let’s do it.
  2. See Bingo Boingo’s handy guide not the mention the Contravex guide. Mac users should also check out this GPG Tools tutorial.
  3. Phil Zimmerman, via Wikiwannabe
  4. NB: gribble is ones of the #bitcoin-assets bots. gribble responds to a given set of commands that are entered as “;;” followed by the command, such as “rate” for giving trust ratings to other users, “ticker” for BTC/USD market prices or “gettrust” to determine your WoT relationship connection to another user. See #trilema bots directory for all the latest in-channel call functions and commands.

31 thoughts on “The 5 Ws of WoT

  1. […] I explored previously, the Web of Trust is sine qua non for those who matter in Bitcoin. As such, it’s also an obvious next step in […]

  2. […] people who prioritize security over convenience aren’t going to trust a bunch of non-WoT coders to be even minimally competent with their data any more they’re going to trust the guy […]

  3. […] create a global lending operation such as this would be a huge strain on anyone’s WoT, and I’m skeptical if even a decade in #bitcoin-assets would suffice. We may therefore be […]

  4. […] And if you’ve ever wondered why the folks at #bitcoin-assets, myself included, make seemingly audacious claims such as “The Bitcoin Foundation is a joke,” or “MPEx is the only Bitcoin exchange that doesn’t come free with a Happy Meal,” or “You’re nobody in Bitcoin unless you’re in the WoT?” […]

  5. Dread Knight says:

    Hehe, Kramer is such a karacter xD
    Good to know a bit more about the ratings.

  6. […] man or woman may hold any office of any kind in any place that is not a member in good standing of Bitcoin’s Web of Trust. 2. That no man or woman may purport to hold any office of any kind in any place other than as he […]

  7. […] trust and identity… Sounds suspiciously like the WoT, […]

  8. […] connectivity and an increased number of accessible nodes from which to draw your own personal WoT graph can create new and improved trust structures, naturally hierarchical, that are no longer directly […]

  9. […] and trumping up reasons why anyone should trust them with their coins, knowing full well that businesses outside the WoT have a dismal track record of survival, much less […]

  10. […] is the exact same shit I negrated him over. For those keeping track and interested in a little WoT history, mats is only the second person I’ve negrated in the past ~2 years. Usagi, for being […]

  11. […] I explored previously, the Web of Trust is sine qua non for those who matter in Bitcoin. As such, it’s also an obvious next step in […]

  12. Pete D. says:

    Updated. Now with moar ass.

  13. […] allow you to work offline, which is recommended for obvious reasons, if still dependent on non-WoT workmanship. […]

  14. […] WoT-based job applications are a story for another time, but the Trilema Jobs Board is a decent, if under-used, example of this arrangement. Then, of course, there’s always that friend of your dad’s. [↩] […]

  15. […] for drinks, pranks, and hours upon hours of gambling.v But other than horsing around with your WoT, what’s the appeal of men-only clubs ? Ok, how does “only playing with people who can […]

  16. […] and career advice for those outside your WoT isn’t really a thing. Forget the self-help books, forget the wasted pulp, and most definitely […]

  17. […] used to be the megaphone. Then it was auctioned off to Znort987, who, being outside of the TMSR~ WoT proper, has yet to attract to BitBet v2 the big fish flowing through La […]

  18. […] serious digital communication, there’s still no alternative for PGP predicated on the WoT. The rest is just a sand castle waiting for a […]

  19. […] up when you see wrongdoing, especially within your inner sanctum – especially within your WoT. But don’t take my word for it, here’s Horace with the invocation […]

  20. […] Eastern European owner of is an individual shrouded in mystery and as yet outside the WoT. […]

  21. […] In April 2014, I started back up blogging in earnest after a multi-year retreat to the private refuge of my personal journals. This is also when I earned my first entrance into the TMSR WoT. […]

  22. […] -o V-20160220.tar.gz.mod6.sig` 5. Make a new WoT directory : `mkdir .wot` 6. Change to WoT directory : `cd .wot` 7. `curl […]

  23. […] might these undersigned be, you ask ? Surely, they’ll be in the WoT for all their pretenses to representation. How not ? What other avenues for patron-client relations […]

  24. […] parade-raining Pete comes along and sets you straight : stick with your career and grow your WoT. And fucking focus on […]

  25. […] is making the promise. If they’re an unknown quantity, which they pretty well have to be by definition, you’re “investing” with them in the same way that you “invest” with […]

  26. […] PGP messages, particularly those that aren’t also encrypted to a single individual in your WoT. […]

  27. […] by then. Given the little exit scam that ZXPlay / ZXHost just pulled on me, I’m eager to try more trustworthy solutions. […]

  28. […] to trust, when to trust them, and how much to trust them. This brings us neatly to discussions of the WoT, of course, but that’s Bitcoin 401, which you can’t take until you’ve passed […]

  29. […] (without having to do the hard work of being bar mitzvah’d), and we want to feel like we have priviledged connections in a world where money doesn’t frankly mean all that much to our lottery-winning middle-upper […]

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