moving user ID Comments to --expert mode

Daniel Kahn Gillmor dkg at
Thu Feb 3 22:30:00 CET 2011

On 02/03/2011 04:07 PM, Robert J. Hansen wrote:
> On 2/3/11 3:59 PM, Daniel Kahn Gillmor wrote:
>>  * most people just need a simple identity-driven OpenPGP certificate,
>> one that matches their name and e-mail address.
> Whenever people talk about what "most users" need, I have to ask to see
> the user survey that's showing this.  History has shown that technically
> sophisticated users' ideas of what "real users" need tends to not
> correlate very tightly with what "real users" say they need.

my "user survey" is from several years of trying to personally help
dozens of people of all skill levels learn how to use OpenPGP for secure
messaging.  Regardless of the intelligence or technical savvy of the
people i've personally helped get more comfortable with OpenPGP, i
believe all of them have been baffled by the Comment: prompt.

If anyone thinks that removing this prompt would be a Bad Thing, I would
love to have a clearer explanation of the Comment prompt that i could
refer to when i try to de-baffle people in the future.

Looking through my keyring, i see many more useless comments (clutter)
than i see comments that might possibly be useful.

Of the comments in user IDs in my keyring that might possibly be useful,
most of them would be better communicated in some other way than as
assertions of their personal identity.

I invite you to look through the User IDs in your own keyring, from the
perspective of a potential certifier, and ask yourself "what does it
mean for me to certify these comments?"

> Terse is beautiful.  

Omitting the baffling prompt entirely would be the most terse, which is
what i propose.  Do you object to that?

> I think something like
> Comment (optional):
> ... would suffice, and would be a modest improvement on the current prompt.

Yes, that would be an improvement over the current situation.  i suspect
it will cause a non-negligible proportion of users to use the string
"optional" as their comment, but you can't win 'em all :(


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