The WoT versus Linked in.

This post explores the differences between the WoT and Linked in.

My initial thought was that the weighted rating in the WoT was similar to the ‘1st / 2nd / 3rd degree’ connections terminology on Linked in. This turned out to be somewhat correct, but also an incomplete assesssment.

the WoT : Web of Trust.

Quoting diana_coman : … the WoT is simply the (necessarily incomplete) representation of relationships.

In theory, this consists of every person you ever know (and interact with). Your connection to this person is weighted by a rating provided by you. And it is a two-way connection wherein the other person can also rate you. This rating is done by providing necessary details to to deedbot via IRC.

Deedbot is a ‘bot’, that manages nickname registration, provides encrypted OTP’s to validate commands, enables bitcoin transactions, and can even track RSS feeds. Noting the different comands on the help page will provide the complete picture of the possibilities.

  • [ ] I think I would be keen on working on improving deedbot or designing a bot for . This would also tie in with my efforts to improve my skills in data science.

Extending diana_coman‘s explanation to me, the WoT presents a graph of how well you know people in your network based on the said rating. The rating could be negative. Deedbot’s own graph can be visualised at http://wot.deedbot.org/29F5BC967632415AB9836DB63E452A7A2A00DEC1.html. Notice that the arrow marks go both ways with the line intensity varying by the rating value.

The rating is from -10 to 10. I tried giving deedbot a rating of 20 and -20, and received an error.

Through deedbot, I can give a person a rating using their registered nick with deedbot. For example: I just gave diana_coman a rating of 10, and deedbot 5 (out of 10):

!!rate diana_coman 10 "She had the red pill"
!!rate deedbot 5 "I know deedbot"

The note or comment at the end is optional

After this command (or any other), deedbot will provide a link to a message encrypted with your public key. This OTP has to be extracted via decrypting and shared with deedbot using !!v otp. This enables the previous command to be executed.

So, how frequently can the rating be given and changed? Apparently, as frequently as you desire, since I just changed deedbot’s ratings repeatedly. I would presume a frequent change in rating probably reflects on an unstable nature in me as well.

How can I enter somebody’s WoT? By rating them (using their nick). In turn, they can rate you (when/if they want to).

Does the rating matter? No. You can rate anybody, and the ratings represent your ‘social graph’. Somebody with poor ratings from many different people should probably be treated with some caution, but even so these ratings cannot be used to ‘judge’ anybody in any meaningful or profound manner. Ratings are like opinions, which can be changed on the fly. In a way, this is more consistent with the inconsistent ‘human condition’ w.r.t dealing with emotions… I could love boiled vegetables in the morning and hate them by lunch.

In essence, a GPG key pair and registering with deedbot is the starting point for getting into somebody’s WoT. Each interaction with deedbot is assured to reach only you, by virtue of encryption with your public key.

Linked in:

A ‘professional’ network, which is ‘easy’ to sign up with. There is no rating to be given to your connection, and there is no quantification of the strength of the connection you have with somebody.

A login id and password are the only methods of ‘identity verification’ on Linked in.

i.e If I get confused between between 2 people calling themselves Diana C and Diana Coman, I have no way of distinguishing between them, except by inspecting their profiles and making some educated guesses. With a public key based registration – I would not have this confusion.

As such, Linked in classifies connections as ‘1st / 2nd / 3rd degree’ connections, depending on whether you are connected to that person directly or indirectly. Depending on the degree of the connection, you can extend an invitation to connect with that person (or not).

This is only somewhat parallel to the weighted graph concept of WoT. However, in WoT – you can rate anybody, whether you actually know them or not. i.e there is no need to be ‘connected’ as in Linked in.

In a way – WoT can be thought of like the ‘follow’ option in Linked in, but with the possibility of ‘rating’ the strength of your ‘connection’. The rating is a number based on subjective assessments and emotions.

It is worth noting that on Linked in – connections can endorse the ‘skills’ you post on your profile, and can also provide recommendations based on your past work / interactions.

From my experience, the skill endorsement is an eyewash, and means nothing. I’ve been ‘endorsed’ for computational fluid dynamics by Architects (not even engineers for crying out loud), and it only involves clicking a ‘plus’ sign on a skill. However, IMHO: the /recommendations are quite valuable, as they are personally penned.

Conclusions

  • Linked in uses a simplified and ‘fixed’ form of classifying connections as 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree connections. The basis is outside your control. the WoT makes no such distinctions and allows a broader rating between 1-10. This ‘broader rating’ system does not make it more accurate in anyway and only reflects your subjective opinion, which can be changed at anytime, on a basis that You decide.
  • The strength of your connection on Linked in can be expressed via endorsements and recommendations, but these constitute a ‘rigid’, binary approach. Even a personal endorsement cannot be quantified anyway.
  • On Linked in, one has to be connected with the other via a connection request and etc, and only subsequently can any endorsement take place. With WoT – I am free to rate anybody. The user is in control with the WoT.
  • Anything done on Linked in – is owned by Linked in or Microsoft, as a company offering a platform, with a lot of components. With the WoT – all you offer is a public key to secure your communication, and then establish trust and connections via interactions on say IRC channels, project contributions and so on. Any information can be easily shared in a public manner, through a website or a blog, with ceding ownership and dependence.

2 responses on “The WoT versus Linked in.”

  1. To start with: you can NOT discuss something (the WoT here) without linking the canonical reference for it (http://trilema.com/2014/what-the-wot-is-for-how-it-works-and-how-to-use-it/ ). Lack of engaging with the very description of the thing pretty much invalidates everything else since you are doing the equivalent of building on thin air.

    Leaving the above aside (somehow), the whole thing otherwise reads rather random as structure and I suspect that’s why the “conclusions” fail to conclude anything – they seem more of a reiteration of some points (chosen how?) than conclusions of anything.

    Keep this as it is, for reference, but do another one, as a proper investigation of the topic -with some clear aim, structure and actual exploration of the notions involved.

  2. My previous post on the WoT did not provide a clear indication of my understanding, and also had some erroneous statements. This is an improved summary of what I know about WoT.
    There are 2 ‘processes’ to note regarding the concept of the WoT:
    Assigning a rating to a person you know, who will become a part of your WoT. Everything constituting any sort of connection between you and somebody in your WoT is reduced to a single number – the rating. This means that the definition of the number is obviously variable from person to person, and could even vary based on circumstance, state of mind and lunar phases for that matter. This rating represents what that person means to you in whatever way you like. In turn, you will (hopefully) receive a rating.
    The process of building your WoT, i.e trust in the community, in the way you desire. This is entirely under your control.
    The WoT ratings, well the connectivity graph can be used to generate valuable information about the credibility equation for a hitherto unknown entity. This could even include the indication that no useful information is available regarding the unknown entity in your WoT. Extending even beyond an unknown entity, the WoT provides a relatively inexpensive infrastructure to formulate a probability based 1reduction of the unknowns, which in turn aids in the credibility assessment.
    The rating does not eliminate the unknowns. Nor does the subsequent interactions between you and somebody in your WoT have to guarantee any sort of result (by virtue of being present in your WoT). In fact, discounting the legal binding and words on a signed piece of paper – there is never any ‘true’ guarantee that somebody will fulfill their obligations in any kind of interaction, with or without the WoT.
    The WoT does not claim to be such a instrument either. The rating itself is enabling a social graph, and the process of building trust is shaped by each individual’s approach in doing so. Other than the said key pair – the system does not demand or require any additional information.

    As diana_coman said – … the failure-insurance; the world never hands a failure-insurance, there is no such thing.

    Okay – what if that information ‘gathered’ from the WoT was biased in a way that is not recognizable? Is the WoT system/rating really universal in the sense that it is lucid to indicate when it won’t work / help?
    The answer can be gathered from this article, and it is worth referring to this footnote. Through the WoT connectivity graph the extent of overlapping connections can be seen. Though, what anybody infers from the rating is subjective – some fundamental conclusions are not unfathomable, as explained here, and here. These can be used as building blocks to extract the information needed. In essence, the WoT will always convey some information, and the inference and subsequent action plan is generated by you.
    Ultimately, it is what you are able to derive from the people in your WoT and the ratings, which determines how well it works for you.

    References

    trilema: Canonical reference for WoT
    trilema: How the WoT is attacked, and how it defends itself.

    Footnotes:

    1 to the extent possible, which is also governed by your imagination and capabilities.

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