Rating System for HTTP Pages

Brian Farrar (Farrar@metamor.com)
Thu, 1 Dec 1994 16:56:43 +0100

Previous thread
>+--- On Wed, 30 Nov 1994, David Koblas wrote:
>| We are neglecting on form of access control that I think might be
>| just as important "parental control".
>| Maybe something like:
>| Content-Guidance: {*,violence,sex,...}={specifer}
>| Content-Guidance: sex=MPAA-R (i.e no male nudity, only simulated sex)
>+--- On Wed, 30 Nov 1994, Brian Behlendorf wrote:
>| Yet another situation where collaborative filtering can help. If the MPAA
>| had an online presence and a public key to have digital signatures
>| verified, then they could go around the net attaching their 'G' Seal of
>| Approval on the Barney page, their 'PG' SOAP on the Nancy Drew page, their
>| 'R' SOAP on the Oliver Stone page, and their 'X' SOAP on www.playboy.com.

>+--- On 12/1 Marc H. wrote:
>|Seems like these schemes would only be workable if an "unrated" page was
>|assumed to be unacceptable and was "blocked" (which it sounds like Brian
>|intended). I wouldn't expect the playboy people, for instance, to
>|willingly rate their pages unless pressured/forced to do so. (Perhaps
>|that's a bad example, since a corporation is associated with that site.
>|I wouldn't expect some individual maintaining a pornographic/erotic web
>|site to use MPAA ratings, and pressuring an individual to do so would be
>|much more difficult.)

This is the bane of *any* ratings scheme. Those that have something
to lose by being rated, circumvent a cooperative rating system agreement.
While those that have nothing to lose by participating, gladly cooperate.
That's why industries that (for whatever reason) generate opposition
groups tend to avoid such a scheme until fear of government or economic
retribution is credible enough to make bedfellows of the likely winners
and losers. (read video gamers).

>+--------- More from Marc H.
>|Another solution might be to have a centralized "rating server" (or
>|several) which a browser might consult before retrieving any page. In
>|this model an author would not have to agree to be rated. Such a
>|browser, however, would require two connections for each retrieval, one
>|to the rating server and one to the origin server.
>|+ [more from Brian]
>|| While I personally abhor the thought of prohibiting the flow of
>|| information, I am pointing out that it could be technologically
>|| accomplished rather elegantly.
>|It's hard to express how abhorrent I find the rating server idea; and I
>|don't think the other schemes are much better. I agree that it could be
>|accomplished. However, if a browser either rejected all unrated pages or
>|consulted some central morals committee before retrieving any page, the
>|effect on the flow of information would likely be quite drastic. I
>|don't know that any such solution would be "elegant."

Electronic information just destroys the chance for a good old fashioned
book burning doesn't? ;-) What I really mean is I'd we rather come up
with some sort of self rating, than to delegate control to "THE COMMITTEE".
I don't mean to sound Orwellian (is that a word?) here, but at some point
(IMHO) every special interest group on the face of the planet is going
to be electronically here. Each with their own set of prejudices and
info-fear screaming to regulate what we can see, read, listen to, and
watch. To quote Robert Frost, good fences make good neighbors.

Enough complaining. The solution is to make control of what comes over
the pipe solely in control of the client. For example, what if the browser
were to engage in key word searching of the text coming in. The user could
maintain a profile of key words that indicate the subject matter *may*
be objectionable. Again, this type of filter would not be viscous
enough to allow *all* non-objectionable material through, nor restrictive
enough to prevent *some* objectionable material from appearing. At least
then the control (and the fault for filter failure) remains in the hands
of the user....

| Universe Corrupted... |
| Reboot? |
| |
| Brian Farrar |
| (farrar@metamor.com) |