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My vision

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Joined: 06 Sep 2007
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2007 3:13 am    Post subject: My vision Reply with quote

I would like to share with you my personal vision and philosphy regarding private trackers and the use of such software as Greedy Torrent.

First of all I would like to state that I am a person who is a strong proponent of peer-to-peer networks and file sharing. I have my personal views about the issue of copyright and the commodity called information, but I will not relate them now. I will just say that I feel both content creators have a 'right' to trade their information as any individual has the 'right' to make available any piece of information to any other individual. Let me also say that I am a happy seeder. Ever since the advent of p2p networks, I have been sharing everything I've got. I like it when I can give something to another. I believe p2p networks are a good thing. It is a phenomenon that takes power away from the few and distributes it among the many. That's where the power should be; in the hands of the individuals, the people. People should be in charge of their lives, and make decisions for themselves - be stimulated to make decisions for themselves. And they should have the freedom to do as they see fit. Naturally, when this freedom interferes with other people's rights, it should be regulated. Ideally, this regulation is exercised by a body that is formed out of the people. Always, the people are the beginning, and the people are the end. No organisation has any value unless it supports the people - that is it's raison d'Ítre. It has no value in itself. When an organ disconnects from the body that gave life to it, it becomes dangerous, and will start to protect its own independant existance at the cost of the body. I believe many organisations and especially corporations have disconnected themselves from the body that gave life to them, and have sought life and longevity for their own sake. Ours is a world where these disembodied organs have become more important than the body that feeds them, and they have started to control this body. Of all the organs, those organs called government have in the modern democratic world always been best at remembering their origin and true identity: by the people for the people. But they too, and foremost, are organs of control, and the parts of the body that fuel their decision making processes are those parts that are most important to the workings of the society as it has constructed itself and hence hold most power: the corporations. In at least one country, this development has seen its next step: in Hong Kong, part of the parliament, the people's representatives, are no longer representatives of the people. They now represent the corporations, and are directly chosen by them. Thus, even more power is taken away from the body, and placed in the hands of disembodied organs that have lost their true identity and now seek life and glory for themselves. This is the state of our world. And p2p networks are a danger to this status quo. They return power to the people.

Now, it is a fact that many people, when left to their own agenda, do not care much about other people's wellbeing. In the p2p world, they are called leeches. In a sense, they too, have forgotten their true identity. As a result, in the Bittorrent world, torrents run the risk of gradually dying out. Torrents, unlike regular files, cannot easily be shared; they require the user to manually connect every torrent metainfo file to its data located on his or her harddrive. There is some maintenance involved, and data to be shared must adhere to some externally specified format, because the Bittorrent protocol is useless otherwise. The personalized experience one has with other filesharing systems, is gone. The charm of sharing your personal collection to interested individuals is gone. Instead, you become part of an automated anonymous system designed to aid others in acquiring what they want. That these files they want are located on your harddrive, makes no difference. You are but a puppet to them. When you move your files around, and break the seeding, or turn off your computer, nothing is lost, and the next day, you have little incentive to start your torrent application again. Man was not meant for anonimity. No wonder these torrents start to die. They mean nothing to us. Nothing of us is reflected in the torrent. We are emotionally unrelated.

Nevertheless, the Bittorrent protocol is an extremely effective way of distributing popular content. It is so effective, that it goes unchallenged in the modern world of content distribution. It also has ideological value, as it exemplifies the notion of cooperation, even as it is driven mainly by narrow self-interest. But all cooperation is driven by self-interest, if you allow for expanding definitions of 'self'. Because it is so capable and has such potential, many people committed themselves to improving the workings of the Bittorrent world. The most accessable and easy way to improve the workings of this world, is to place a bounty on seeding. Fortunately, the protocol provides a means of keeping track of the amount each participant seeds (or uploads), so in principal it could be used. Now all that is needed is a bounty.

The bounty has been implemented as the membership of private communities that provide its members with content. Newcomers are often welcomed, and provided with a few gigabytes worth of content for 'free'. However, to continue receiving past this initial gift, the member must contribute to the community by seeding back the data that he has just received. As such, he participates in the effort to sustain the torrent he just downloaded. If the member does not sustain enough to meet the requirements of the community, he is expelled. As such, filesharing has become a bandwidth trading scheme. You can only receive what you give.

Unfortunate for some members, whose upload capacity is only a fraction of their download capacity, this 'seeding back to good ratio' can take many times the time it took to download the thing. It grows even worse when torrents are extremely well seeded, and the would-be seeder is left longing for a peer who would download from him. But the community's verdict is unforgiving, and no kudo's are rewarded for good intention. The only way out is to pay the community (or actually, the people hosting the server that coordinates all downloads) for a ratio increase or immunity from the auto-ban system. Or so it seems.

Fortunate for people in utmost desparation, there is a way to beat the system. The tracker software that does the accounting of all transfer figures relies on the participant giving correct data to it. The peers that this participant interacts with, do not collect data on the data exchanges that take place with each peer. And the tracker has nothing to do with the actual exchanges, it just sits out in the control tower to receive reports from the players in the field. So any client can forge his upload update so that larger upload amounts are reported and registered. Naturally, the total reported download figures should match the reported upload figures, and if they differ, linear regression may be performed on the discrepancy in order to discover which peers (if any) are responsible for it, though it may be possible to thwart this to some extent by making the upload modification non-linear through randomness or other non-linear functions, or by making the modification linear relative to the statistics of another peer (it seems to be possible to obtain the aggregated download rate of a peer).

Nevertheless, it's actually quite silly to rely on people telling the truth so that you may control their behavior. It's like a parent saying to her teenage son: I want you to tell me the truth. If you really did steal that car I will kick you out of the house. Big incentive this guy has in telling the truth. And this ratio-ban system is, after all, just a system of control.

So a piece of software was developed, that sits as a middle-man between the Bittorrent client and the tracker. It does nothing but pass all data that it receives on one end of the pipe on to the other end, except that it modifies one small string: the upload amount. This modification goes undetectable by the tracker, for this difference in upload amount is the only difference in the communication with what appears to be an ordinary trustworthy client.

It is much like webservers that rely on the 'referer:' header to detect whence a visitor has come. They use it to specify and enforce navigational paths within their website, for example, to disallow access to a certain script unless it is called from within one of their webpages. This method is dependant upon the user's webbrowser speaking the truth. But do you expect me to respect this system of control? I will happily falsify this data if it will give me access to functionality I want, if it does not harm the website.

Now, the question is whether it is right or wrong to circumvent the system of control imposed by private communities. Of course, right and wrong are but categories in a personal value system, so the question is what effect this behavior produces, and if that effect is desirable or not. Let me first say that I had a good laugh at those tracker admins coming here to express their indignance with someone who dares threaten their holy community. "You are destroying the torrent community whine whine." Yes, very funny. Obviously, these people do not sympathize at all with the unlucky leecher.

Now the arguments against cheating follow two branches. The first argument states that cheating is bad for the community. In other words, giving less to the community than what the community requires of you, is bad for the community. Naturally, seeding more is always better and seeding less is always worse for the community, but the question is whether this behavior results in a noticable and significant worsening of community 'vitality'. To arrive at some universal ethical position, often the question "What would happen if everybody followed my example?" is used. Given this premise, cheating is obviously 'bad', because massive cheating would cripple the system. But universal ethics is an oxymoron. Every situation is different, and every choice is made in a unique context. If I steal an apple from your orchard, you won't notice. If two hundred people start stealing apples from your orchard, it's quite different. And if those two hundred people are starving to death, it's quite different again.
The point is that every person must decide for himself in every unique instance what choices he will make. It cannot be decided for him. This is the seat of morality. Therefore, saying that cheating is morally wrong in all instances, is pretending to be the final arbiter you're not, and not understanding the nature of ethics.
Still, the question remains whether moderate cheating is bad for the community. That of course depends on the vitality of that community. If the community hosts a sufficient number of peers that are seeding like crazy, regardless of their ever booming ratio's, then a modest amount of peers that contribute only little will not even be noticed. A site on which mosts torrents feature a 10:1 seeder-to-leecher ratio seems to me like a site that can handle quite a bit of leeching as well.

The second branch is home to the moral arguments. The first one is that you should pay for what you get and that if you don't, you're a thief. The premise is that torrents are a trade mechanism, that upload bandwidth is a valuable as-set, and, most importantly, that only the sun rises for naught. I like to believe that it is okay for me to give things to people that they need not reciprocate me for. Conversely, I don't mind taking what is given. I'm sure I'm not the only seeder out there that thinks this way. To quote Kahlil Gibran:
Kahlil Gibran wrote:
Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, "Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance." For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.

The second moral argument states that you may enter the community if you agree to the terms, and that if you don't, that you should stay out. The community has the right to name its terms for membership and you should respect that. Tell you what, I don't give a rat's a s s about any 'terms'. Terms are just another method of social control. Terms and enforcement are two sides of the same coin, just like law and law-enforcement. Terms are no replacement for individual morality, just as law is not. I've clicked 'yes' to and probably violated hundreds of unread (license) agreements, and guess what, nobody was ever harmed because of it. If respecting terms is a high moral feat, then it is one with little practical relevance, and therefore, quite irrelevant. I can select the course of action that is most loving quite by myself, thank you, I don't need you to tell me what to do. Truly, I have no intention of harming any community I become part of, and I'll see to it that I'll care for it in the way I see most proper or fitting.

And besides,
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

Then there are those that cannot comprehend that anyone would actually take the time to create a piece of software that allows people to cheat. In their eyes, this in itself is a moral sin. But it's not like it's an extreme hacking tool that allows one to subvert the entire bittorrent system. It cannot be compared to a dangerous weapon, created for destruction. This piece of software merely allows users to use their computer as they want to use it, have it speak what they want it to speak. It is basically, the freedom to lie. This is an important freedom, in my eyes. It is a freedom we were born with. We ourselves are responsible for how we act and what we do. If a piece of software can give us back this responsibility, then it has my blessing.

I wish all the tracker admins out there all the luck in creating and maintaining their communities. And I wish all the users out there all the luck in dealing with those systems when they prove unrelentless and unforgiving.
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Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Truly marvellous.

This piece of software merely allows users to use their computer as they want to use it, have it speak what they want it to speak. It is basically, the freedom to lie. This is an important freedom, in my eyes.

I agree, very much. Private trackers are lame, they're making us tell the truth and suffer for the same.

If I steal an apple from your orchard, you won't notice. If two hundred people start stealing apples from your orchard, it's quite different. And if those two hundred people are starving to death, it's quite different again.

The truth as it is, the tracker is left with no way of detecting even if two hundred people start stealing -- with current implementation. They either have to:

    1. Run a bittorrent client on their server, which is impossible -- they have to manage the accumulated traffic of all their torrents, and
    2. The legal issues -- MPAA will rape them once they start touching the real data.

They can, however, do
    1. Minimize new registrations -- while also minimizing the income, page hits, ad clicks, the whole damn profit from their site.
    2. Type forum.greedytorrent.com in browser, pick a random forum and spit junk, nonsense and stories (lies) about how they detected a GT user and how they're going to ban all of us.
    3. Live with it and accept the truth, or think about a better business.
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Joined: 06 Sep 2007
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2007 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh... it actually amazes me that people click on ads, and that you can make money by having ads on your site. I mean, in those 11 years or so that I have been using the internet, I may have clicked on 20 banners total, and half of it was because some site admin pleaded me to generate a clickthough.
That's excluding 'sponsored' search results in Google. Those are useful, sometimes.
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Joined: 04 Oct 2009
Posts: 9
Location: United States

PostPosted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 12:56 pm    Post subject: Mon Sep 17 2007 6 25 am Reply with quote

Hi i have just come back from the event at st briavels on the 8th of sep, and was wondering if anyone knew of any decent paranormal groups myself and a few mates who also came could join in that area?

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