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Thread: Secret Signs: Security online and for meetups

  1. #1

    Default Secret Signs: Security online and for meetups

    Bobbyjeff made an interesting post with very important implications:

    Quote Originally Posted by bobbyjeff View Post
    Its a forgivable transgression from the uninformed. [saying "clip" when referring to a "magazine"] Its still annoying though lol. I actually intentionally misuse it in conversation as a litmus test. If I see someone cringe involuntary when I improperly use the term clip, I know or at least suspect they are a fellow enthusiast. Its a way to feel people out without directly asking "hey do you like guns?". In a PC world that is not always acceptable.
    Sometimes it is a matter of utmost importance to be able to test someone who claims or pretends to be an insider. I'll give but two examples...

    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.
    Last edited by Raccoon; 25-Jul-2009 at 05:25.

  2. #2


    Honestly word use and typing style can be a good indicator for when you are and aren't talking to different people online. Most people have a particular style and grammatical flow so that they are pretty easily identified even if on under a different nick. If someone says something or reacts in a way that wouldn't be within their norm... it raises suspicion.

  3. #3


    Quite true: most do. But if you are new here, you may not know a person's style wll enough to identufy them. Hence the skill test. Also, some peoples' styles may be easily imitated. Obviously if there is grounds for any suspicion, tell a mod and they can to technical testing, and check further.

  4. #4


    First of all, about the Verified Identity-Scheme: As explained here, meeting up with a moderator is sufficient proof for being included in the VI-scheme. I dunno who claimed otherwise. Evidently, the person hasn't read the rules/terms and conditions

    Second: When you intend to meet up with people IRL, you'd normally exchange pictures or know what the person looks like, or at least trade phone numbers. So any liar would have to look like the person they're trying to impersonate, or they must have gotten hold of the real person's phone. Both things are rather unlikely, and without the picture/phone number, it's practically impossible to meet up. At least I'd never do it simply for organizational reasons.
    If it's about meetups with several people (like the Manchester Meet): The same rules apply really. I don't want to hold up some flag in a crowded place waiting for people to approach me, because then I'll have no way of saying who will come. So instead, I will contact people privately and arrange with them privately where to meet, and when. People who turn up there should be those I want to meet.


  5. #5


    I was giddy at another's use of shibboleth. I probably play entirely too many mind games with my friends and colleagues, but I love human interaction. Strange from an engineer type, which makes it all the less expected and thus easier. I love peppering a conversation with random references to my various interests in life when talking to a stranger. Through generalities, one can usually find some thread of common interest. If I sense that person has a deeper knowledge, I will begin to poke deeper into the subject. The responses can usually tell you quite quickly if that person has a true knowledge and interest, or if they were just being kind and indulging in conversation.

    I have met most of my best friends in life in this very way. I can't say that I truly like all of this about myself, as it is a somewhat intellectually dishonest way of interacting with others. Feigning ignorance on a subject that I have a deep knowledge of is often how I entertain myself when I discover someone who comes across as a poseur of the particular craft or topic of discussion.

  6. #6


    1. Meeting a staff member in real life. Pretty self explanatory, although we're well aware that this is an exception because staff members live scattered all over the planet and there are safety issues involved for everyone.
    2. Through a webcam conversation with a senior staff member. The staff member will ask you to perform a certain task (e.g. hold up 6 fingers, touch your nose etc.) to make sure it's not a pre-recorded video feed.
    3. By sending a picture of yourself to the ADISC staff - conditions apply:It must be a picture of you. You must hold a sheet of paper with your ADISC name and "" handwritten on it and hold up another easily available item (e.g. a fork, pen, sock etc.) as assigned by the staff member. This is to ensure you're not sending a picture randomly downloaded off the internet and photoshopped to fit the requirements.

    Thanks Peach, I stand corrected; I only remembered #2 & #3, probably forgetting #1 due to dismissing it as too unlikely. None the less, the point of linking one's rl self with one's online self I think is a valid one; merely having a warm body show up on time should not be enough. Meet, chat a bit at the rail station or wherever, discuss stuff only an insider would know, to verify the guy who does show up is actually an Adiscer...

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