Bobbyjeff made an interesting post with very important implications:
say someone comes along pretending to be one of us, assuming our identity, for the purposes of causing mischief and harm to the site or to the person they are pretending to be (by damaging their reputation) , or to some other person, hoping the blame will attach to the owner of the stolen identity.
also suppose the person pretending to be, say, me, has access to my posts and chatlogs. You could not test them by asking about facts or simple opinions, as these can be easily reproduced or copied. But you might ask them to demonstrate a skill: in my case, say, to spin off cheap poetry at a moment's notice, and see if it resembles my style; if you know my sense of humor and writing style, you should be able to spot a fake. Part of the key would be giving them insufficient time to concoct and craft a response.
Or say, if someone claimed to be a mod, and asked you to do stuff that raised your suspicions. Double-checking with other mods would of course work; but a simple test would be something like, create a thread with a typo in the title and ask the mod (or pseudo-mod) to fix it, assuming the real one has this power. If he can not he is not who he says.
is this trivial mind-gaming? possibly; but if you have doubts about a person's identity, and do not wish to create a big scene, such a simple test is worthwhile too have in mind. The beauty is the person being tested may not even know they are being tested. Also, tests for someone online to prove who they say they are are can be difficult to manufacture.
This was an issue floating around in my mind recently. (Story alert!!) I met up with one of our mods in person recently; he pointed out that even so, I was still not identity-verified; I thought this was hilarious, that showing up in-person was considered less reliable than waving arbitrary objects at webcams, that a rl event was less reliable than a virtual one.
Then I got to thinking: that he was quite right. The meet was all proper, with precautions taken, and good planning made and executed. But he could not actually know the guy showing up was the guy he had spoken to online; I did say enough things and in my own style to demonstrate that I am the guy behind the mask, and he likewise; but it gave me pause to consider that doing so was a vital security precaution for both of us, most especially when it comes to rl contact.
So.. What manner of secret signs and tests can you suggest for trusting a person's identity, either for meetups, or just to know the guy calling himself Moo or Raccoon or Newbiefur101 an hour ago is the same guy you are talking to right now? BTW such things are called a "Shibboleth"... Many private groups have secret signs to indicate membership to other members; such a thing is known as a Shibboleth, based on a biblical account. Shibboleth - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
YouTube - shibboleth
Yay ADISC tradecraft.