It's unfortunate so many people come out of the woodwork to tell people their ideas are terrible or won't work.
I think it's far more interesting to ask how a thing might work, which uses cases might be dramatically underserved today and serve as a beachhead, or the tradeoffs being made rather than just say something is a "bad idea."
Climate change is an interesting example. An example of a DIRT registry, would not be the question of "is climate change real". It's unclear what defines "real". Rather a registry could be a list of the average air temperature in a city over time.
Don't take me wrong. I don't really see the value in inventing a truth bureaucracy that rewards participants in fake money. This dirt system is just silicon valley, in it's typical naivety, trying to reinvent propaganda.
Maybe if there was also very aggressive human moderation to remove anything that was even remotely emotionally/economically charged. Basically just stick to information about math and science (and even then you'd have to avoid political bugbears like global warming or anything to do with economics).
Avoiding politics is basically impossible, everything is political to some degree. For example, even if you just focus on the most boring maths, is it overwhelmingly just male mathematicians' work cited? That's political.
> For example, even if you just focus on the most boring maths, is it overwhelmingly just male mathematicians' work cited? That's political.
No, it's not. (One might either attribute a political cause to it or seek a political correction for it, but inherently it's social but not directly “associated with the governance of a country or other area”.)
Even the Nazi and Japanese experiments revealed biological truths. But I abhor the source and methods and it is a cardinal sin that many of these scientists were granted amnesty in exchange for full cooperation. Some truths become worth nothing when you know thst they were paved with lies. I don't think there is an easy way to act like truths don't have an associated social and cosmic cost.
>If the data is incorrect, anyone can challenge the data and earn tokens for identifying these inaccurate facts.
How do you moderate censorship or conflicting information ?
if someone uploads my personal info, without my consent. How do I get to purge it ? From the current model, it seems like I ll have to pay money to "request" purging my own data.
Thanks! DIRT is a fundamentally different approach because it removes the middleman and there is no central moderator. Our goal is to move the trust from a central party to a system of rules that anyone can participate in.
I think verified identity could be a registry on DIRT. Adding reputation on top of voting is something we're exploring.
By design, a public blockchain is an immutable record maintained by a decentralized network where no central authority has the power to go back and remove something from the record. This makes the blockchain an exciting technology for resisting censorship, but it also means that if someone adds your personal data to the blockchain, your options for removing it are very limited. You would need to shut down all nodes in the network or convince all nodes in the network to agree to a hard fork. In the latter case, nodes that don't join the fork would continue to have the private data.
That's true for unencrypted information stored directly on the blockchain. For applications where you need the ability to delete data and don't need strong censorship resistance, one solution is to store private data off-chain and only store the location and hash of the data in the blockchain. This article discusses that idea in detail:
I can't see any obvious place to download this dirt protocol so I can check (the website seems to be 100% marketing, 0% documentation), but based on a combination of pattern recognition and the evasiveness of the above answer, I would wager the answer is "there is no process, we didn't think about data deletion".
Hi there - We are auditing our smart contracts prior to launch and plan to open source them. If you are interested in trying out the protocol on launch, send us a note.
Per GDPR specifically, I am learning about the regulations and my understanding is that the right to be forgotten focuses on personal information. Personal information is not a great fit for DIRT registries because it is not publicly verifiable. The concept of voting to determine correctness works best if that data is public and observable.
You’re being generous... this reeks more of scam than carelessness. Either way, it’s going to never actually be delivered, not be GDPR complient, and based on the answers to questions raised here, full of obvious holes. If it isn’t just a scam, it smells like someone went from “here’s a neat idea I’ve spent a whole ten minutes on,” to fundraising without a beat in between.
No resistance to censorship.
No resistance to conflicting information.
More money = more “truth” with no recourse, because removing info costs.
Incorrect info loses you money, but there is no functional systemic way to determine correct/incorrect.
Waaaaay too much marketing and nothing else extant.
Failing to give thought to something doesn’t make it go away, but of course it’s your right not to think. As long as you understand that ideology and opinion aside, it can greatly impact your ability to do business in Europe, then you go be you.
Most companies don't do business in Europe.
As defined under GDPR? I’d love citations for that claim.
Can someone explain how exactly DIRT protocol will do moderation? From their site  it seems like they do some sort of moderating of crowd-sourced structured data. But this is where I am a bit confused: "DIRT maintains accuracy because every contributor needs to deposit tokens to write data. If the data is correct, it is freely shared. If the data is incorrect, anyone can challenge the data and earn tokens for identifying these inaccurate facts." How is the data flagged as incorrect? Who decides that the original data is wrong and the new data is correct?
Also, given that contributors have to put money up to add information, what incentive do they have to add information in the first place?
Hi! Thanks for the question. DIRT works well for objective information. In the cryptocurrency use case, this could be the ERC-20 smart contract address for a token or a list of investors for a project.
To flag information as incorrect, you need to take tokens and challenge the data. A challenge starts a vote and anyone in the DIRT network can vote with their tokens on what information is correct. The vote winner and majority voters earn tokens. The vote loser and minority voters are penalized.
We are planning to publish our protocol design in a few weeks with more details.
I think the tough part is deciding who should be the arbiter or whether information is intentionally malicious. Censorship can be a real issue.
For the DIRT protocol, if want to remove information, you also need to deposit tokens and put forth evidence to convince voters in the network to side with you. If you lose the vote, then you would also lose tokens. We put forth an economic penalty for being inaccurate.
> For the DIRT protocol, if want to remove information, you also need to deposit tokens and put forth evidence to convince voters in the network to side with you. If you lose the vote, then you would also tokens. We put forth an economic for being malicious.
Sorry if this is a stupid question but if I lose a vote, can I bring it up for a vote again? I think that should be ok, right? Even if I get some fact removed by some kind of trickery where I sneak in a vote it should be OK because if the fact belongs there, maybe someone else can add it again?
I think this works well for facts like Robert Kennedy as a matter of fact did NOT kill John F Kennedy. However, some things are not objectively clear. What happens when people keep adding "fake news" that is not obviously/patently false? Does someone need to pay to have it removed? How often do I do that? Every time someone adds it?
Now again the flip side is troublesome. We can't require identification for anyone to post facts, right? I mean I think that would be unthinkable, right? As such, how do we "rate limit" "fake news"?
Sorry if all of these have obvious answers. I just couldn't think of it...
1. Repeat votes - If you lose the vote, you can vote again. DIRT works not only for correcting intentionally misleading data, but also for fixing out of data information. It's similar to a bug bounty for data.
2. Cycle of challenges - Each time misinformation re-surfaces, you would have to challenge and vote down the data. However, every time you are successful in your challenge, you earn tokens for your efforts.
3. Fake news - Subjective information can be harder to adjudicate with DIRT and that will not be our initial market. As an engineer, I would love to believe that the blockchain can solve fake news. However, a lot of research shows it is not the lack of data that the issue, but rather perspective. People believe what they want to believe.
>>To flag information as incorrect, you need to take tokens and challenge the data. A challenge starts a vote and anyone in the DIRT network can vote with their tokens on what information is correct. The vote winner and majority voters earn tokens. The vote loser and minority voters are penalized.
You're right this only works well for objective information or facts. Hence, any articles that hint of an opinion (i.e. pick any Wikipedia editing war topic) would result in a mono-culture dominated by those with the most tokens.
I'm really curious to see how this plays out. Best of luck.
Thanks! What we have for v1 of the protocol is really the starting point. There are also other extensions that could support subjective information. For example, it could be similar to Reddit's upvoting system. You can stake 100 tokens to say Domino's has the best pizza, and I can counter with 200 tokens to say Papa John's is better. Items are ranked on the list based on the token stake. There would be no challenges or voting in this model.
What prevents entities who can afford to lose the most tokens from establishing what is listed as 'correct'? What mechanisms are there to prevent those with the greatest token number from establishing what is accurate?
1. Economic - you stand to lose the tokens. Similar to mining on bitcoin, the cost to spam the network is proportional to the value of the network. If there are a lot of users, the value of the token is higher and it will be more expensive to acquire the tokens needed to game the system. Even if you are well funded, this will hurt.
2. Reader disinterest - There is the negative feedback loop where users of the information will stop using the information, and the incentive to game the system will drop.
So the 'truth' is whichever way the majority votes? Putting side the obvious issues with that, what prevents someone who has the largest warchest from sweeping everything or is it just an assumption that no-one will have a 51% share blockchains are largely based on?
Yes - That's a great analogy. On the moderation side similar to Stack Overflow, Reddit, HackerNews with reputation and points. On the writing side, we put a higher bar on data accuracy and deposits to share data.
We are building something very similar to this with Rlay, though we usually don't frame it with the Wikipedia/Wikidata story. One of the factors that incentivices contribution of data in the first place, is that if you deposit tokens for a propositon earlier, you will be rewarded higher than if you do that later. Thus participants try to be the first ones to submit a certain piece of information.
Thanks for the feedback! One of the differences between DIRT and Wikipedia is that we place a higher value on information accuracy. For example, in the cryptocurrency market project teams often list investors and advisors as affiliated with their project when they are not involved. A Wikipedia list of investors would not be sufficient. You want these project teams to have skin in the game and something to lose if they are spreading false information.
That said - the explanation didn't fit as well into a one liner :)
With wikipedia or projects like Open Street Maps, vandalism, spam, and poor data quality are problems at scale. In particular, crowdsourcing does not work for curating commercial data or information where you can profit by spreading misinformation.
For example, in the cryptocurrency space. Projects raise funding through initial coin offers (ICOs). In an ICO, you can contribute ETH to a smart contract for the promise of tokens in the future. Having an openly editable list of ICOs and their contribution address would not work. The list would be quickly spammed because malicious actors have a really high incentive to put their personal wallet address as the contribution address.
Seems like a pretty great way to remove the middleman from populist infotainment consumption. Can't be worse than what we already have and by making it explicitly richest party wins it makes the process more transparent. It might not be the Truth but at least it is Honest.
Transparency would be the third benefit. With the blockchain, you can see the entire history of votes. Every transaction is recorded. Today, if a website accepts bribes for reviews, visitors to the site do not know that this happened. With DIRT, if a wealthy token holder had a lot of tokens and tries to throw a vote, you can see the attack happening.
How do you associate a token holder with an actual person or organization?
Is there a method for doing this built into the protocol, or would that be a responsibility for the implementer?
I agree that transparency could be a great benefit of this technology, but if a "wealthy token holder" can create several puppet accounts with their own tokens, throwing a vote can be made to look "organic". Does DIRT do anything to prevent this?
(Thanks btw, it's great to see you active in the comments.)
My feeling is that this is either an illusion ("it will work out somehow") or a sham ("let's milk the crypto craze").
No answer to the question why selling votes should result in more accuracy. Buzzword Bingo. An overly broad approach. Lot's of social proof but thin on content. This reminds me of all those ICOs we see these days.
Looking forward to read the whitepaper. But somehow I have the feeling it will either never come or it will be just another marketing brochure without technical details.
Before Wikipedia, the idea that an openly edited online journal would be better and more accurate alternative to Encyclopedia Brittanica would be surprising to most people.
There's two parts of the design that leads to more accuracy for DIRT:
1. Skin in the game - a token deposit to write encourages accuracy because you can lose the deposit if you are incorrect.
2. Encouraging moderation - moderators can earn tokens. If you vote and challenge correctly, you can earn tokens. This creates an economic reward for moderators that can protects the data accuracy in the long term.
We're posting the whitepaper and more importantly, launching the protocol with a first application in the coming months. Stay tuned!
Can you say more about your project? I was thinking of using it for a project where I'd have to categorize a lot of data and I found the ontologies/modelling and program setup a bit daunting so shelved it for now. Would be curious what others are doing with it.
I don't see how the business model causes data to trend towards truth. I can see how it would trend towards whatever the people with financial incentive to change it want it to say. While DIRT pockets a tax on the edit war, ofc.
Take down requests indeed. Especially for individuals, and especially with GDPR(right to be forgotten), CA privacy law(dont sell my data), etc. If someone else writes on DIRT that I'm an alien from an alien planet bringing a virus to earth (when in fact I'm a human from SF with no viruses), do I need to 1) PAY to get a token to challenge this and also 2) correct inaccurate information with correct information with no option to totally remove the entry (however "ridiculous" the entry)?
Applied to the case of getting accurate VC listings, DIRT has a ploy to get VCs to PAY to get tokens to challenge incorrect entries. Consumers also have an interest in the quality of information, but a primary concern lies with the subject of an entry.
DIRT -If I may, my request to you is to document the heck out of your policies and expected behaviors. The grey line of "ridiculous" that I point out is something that you've mentioned in another response, that you're not in the business of fake news. At some point, you'll need to be making decisions and providing ethical guidelines.
It can depend on the contents of the registry and who depends on that information. For example, with a list of top 100 colleges, readers might use it to decide which colleges to go to. And hence, writers would be incentivized to submit their own college to the list.
A better, but less mainstream-relatable example is a list of ERC-20 smart contract addresses.
For me, it's actually not data easily verifiable as true or false, but more for "wisdom of the crowds" type of knowledge—things that you couldn't put up on a source like Wikipedia. These tend to be lists or recommendations that contain some subjectivity, but also tend to coalesce around a mostly-agreed upon set of answers from a trusted set of sources.
In the centralized world, we usually rely upon institutions like the Michelin Guide to develop a fair set of criteria, but we ultimately as end users trust that institution's "objectivity" and judge whether we think that list is valuable. Sometimes when I research, I informally end up creating lists of lists and combining them ad-hoc if I can't tell which of them is more trusted. These lists also tend to end up being static or only updated once or twice a year and can fall horribly out of date.
I think TCR incentives could potentially be really interesting as an alternative to these lists which rely on the institution's brand. For example, I think Quora Answer Wikis (like this one: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-best-independent-coffee-s...) and general consensus for recommendations in forums for questions like "Which cities should I visit in Thailand if I'm looking for nightlife and places to hike?" or "Which REST framework library should I use for a Django project?" It'd be amazing if DIRT could balance the incentives for community members to contribute to this type of data and keep them as living lists, with all changes and updates maintained through a community with the right checks and balances and incentives.
From the Medium post:
>If the data is correct, it is freely shared. If the data is incorrect, anyone can challenge the data and earn tokens for identifying these inaccurate facts. Our protocol and platform makes it economically irrational for misinformation to persist in a data set.
I think the more interesting data would be data that's on a gray scale, e.g. using the above coffee shop in San Francisco example, obviously if John Doe tries to get his burger joint on the list as a growth hack even though they don't serve coffee, that should easily be verified as misinformation. But what if a coffee shop just closed for business, or moved to Mill Valley but thinks they should still be on the list, or just switched beans and raised the prices so that everyone agrees that it no longer deserves to be on the list?
Disclaimer: I know most of the team working on DIRT, and I don't know very much about TCRs.
You're right that there's often lists that people make, but usually ends up outdated. Often in these cases, the incentives for reading the list are usually more than those maintaining the list.
People in the earlier days of the internet imagined a better world brought about by immediate and unfettered access to information. Many have tried to make freely available information on the internet. Wikipedia, IMDB, and Freebase are direct products of this school of thought. However, we can only count these on one hand. In fact, most free data projects languish and have a hard time getting off the ground.
What we all discovered as we built out the web is that only some kinds of data can be maintained for free sustainably. Sure, if it's something that engages fandom, like all the different types of starships in star trek, people are intrinsically motivated to update that list. But if it's something that's considered dry but useful, like the tax rates in every county in the US, or points of interest on a map, there won't be enough people with intrinsic motivation to keep that updated.
As builders and users of the web, we've compensated by subsidizing that dry/useful data, typically with a company selling advertising or subscriptions in adjacent services. The implicit deal we make as users is if the company provides the data for free, we're ok with the company accrue profits off the data we help curate. Recently, the sentiment has been growing that this may have been a raw deal for users of the web as a company's profits accrue to the point of immense power over our lives.
What I think the builders of the early web got wrong, was that certain types are data needed to involve other incentives besides intrinsic. While we've found other ways to incentivize users in the 2.5 decades of the internet, cryptocurrencies now give us one more tool in our toolbox to use economic incentives to design systems that converge on the curated lists that are regularly updated.
With this new toolkit, we may be able find another way to provide freely curated data without using subsidization. Instead of the value capture accruing in a single company, we may find a way to sustainably distribute it amongst the curators.
We're not as sure subjective data is a good first fit for TCRs. With any startup, it's better to find a niche application that's a great fit, and we think we've found one in objective data for the crypto space.
I think another aspect that might be exciting for you to think about is if you're able to link the data between registries. It's a non-obvious aspect that almost no one asks about.
Wikipedia works great in most use cases. There are also situations where DIRT is a better approach:
1) More efficient than centralized curation - Social media companies receive millions of requests to take down copyright information or spam sites. Today, you have centralized teams vetting each request individually and can take months to review. For this use case, DIRT is a valuable alternative to vetting information because it reduces the noise in each submission.
2) Commercial data - For markets where people can profit for spreading misinformation, open editing is not the best approach. You could create a wikipedia list of stores that sell hand made jewelry. Sellers can benefit from inclusion on the list, and would want to join the list regardless of whether they meet the criteria. The likely outcome is that the list would not be useful.
We’re believers in the blockchain and decentralization, but decentralized information curation is not needed everywhere. However, in markets where there is a critical, single point of failure, where you need transparency because you cannot trust any single actor, and where you have a high demand for data accuracy, DIRT can be very useful.
A jewel seller would have an incentive to stake a lot of tokens on inclusion in the list; but who would have an incentive to stake as many tokens against the inclusion?
Hand-made jewelry sellers, but bystander effect may apply.
And what would prevent hand-made jewelry sellers from uniting against a single legitimate seller?
The only solution is to provide sources and have them manually reviewed by a trusted party, because voting only gives a majority opinion (weighted by how much money one wants to spend on that issue), not the truth.
> A jewel seller would have an incentive to stake a lot of tokens on inclusion in the list; but who would have an incentive to stake as many tokens against the inclusion? Hand-made jewelry sellers, but bystander effect may apply.
The other owners of the tokens! That's the conceit of a TCR. The owners of the tokens have an incentive to maintain their value. The value of their tokens comes from their ability to get you onto the list of that token. The value of being on that list comes from the prestige of the list (i.e. its track record of honesty/quality).
> And what would prevent hand-made jewelry sellers from uniting against a single legitimate seller?
They could do this, but again, they'd be doing it at some cost to the prestige of their list.
At the same time, it's possible for the NYT to hire a curator who doesn't act in your best interest. Jayson Blair is a good example of that problem.
If there were an economic incentive to challenge facts published by the NYT, would Blair's deception have persisted for several years? It's even possible that a subject in one of his stories would stake tokens to challenge the accuracy of the story. Blair could then respond by voting against the challenge with a large number of tokens, but would other parties join Blair or the challenger? They would probably investigate further and effectively join the challenge as neutral arbiters. The incentive on both sides is to provide persuasive information to win votes. The direct token incentive for the neutral parties is two-fold: vote with the winning side to gain tokens, and increase the value of the tokens they hold by helping the registry to become more popular so that demand for the tokens increases. If consumers of the registry value accuracy, that incentivizes the entire network to fiercely defend the accuracy of the data.
TCRs work well when the information is both objective and verifiable. Using Etsy as an example, you can usually tell if a piece of jewelry is hand vs machine made. However, in the listing tags of Etsy sellers, there are sellers who misadvertise machine made goods as handmade. Etsy sellers have internal chat boards where they call out repeat offenders for misleading advertising. Honest sellers who are making the effort to make their jewelry by hand are the ones hurt by the misleading behavior of others.
In many ways, a system where the wealthy control information is what we have today. You can influence elections with donations.
Today, if a publication or data source posts information about you or your business, there is no means to correct this data. You can post about it on Twitter or email the service, and wait for a response. You can't just fix this information. With DIRT, we create a way for people to at least be part of the curation process.
Different types of data require different governance models. Some datasets are not as critical to protect and could have a low token stake. For other pieces of information, you want every writer to have more skin in the game and thus have a high stake for writing. Our bet with building a protocol is to test what incentives will curate the best data.
It's really not that simple. The 'rich' in this case are the owners of the most tokens on a given list. Those 'rich' are only rich insofar as those tokens have value. Those tokens have value only insofar as people want to be on that list. Which means, that the people with lots of tokens are incentivized to maintain a good quality list.