Hauke Laging mailinglisten at
Wed Feb 1 16:47:12 CET 2012

Am Mittwoch, 1. Februar 2012, 01:04:57 schrieb Robert J. Hansen:

> > It is hard for me to believe that a serious user of GnuPG does not
> > use it for email.
> This sounds like a No True Scotsman fallacy.  If someone uses GnuPG but
> not for email, does that disqualify them from being a serious user?

Of course not. I just don't believe that there are many examples of this type 
out there. To me a serious user is one who actively signs, encrypts, and/or 
verifies data and knows what he is doing. He has created a key and verified at 
least one. Everything else seems like special use to me.

> Linux might account for half a percent
> of mindshare, so ... my prejudice is that there are about a million
> GnuPG users in the United States.  They might not even know it, but
> they're part of the userbase.

That's not what I would call a serious user. Counting that way some big 
distributors would just have to add Enigmail to their (graphical) default 
installation and to you the numer of Enigmail "users" would get boosted by a 
factor of 100 without any real change.

> (GnuPG is already on your system.)

That's not true for a certain quite popular OS. How many Windows users install 
GnuPG without Enigmail? Given the huge difference in Linux and Windows users 
this affects the calculation a lot.

> GnuPG would still crush us with between 100,000 and
> 350,000 'knowing' users.

Knowing is not the point to me.

> That's not how the world works.

> if/when we need to guarantee the integrity of our message

The world (at least the part I am familiar with) relies (implicitely) even 
more on the integrity of a message than on trust. If you get an important 
information, question or order and have doubts about the integrity of the 
message then you will do some checks, no matter how much you trust. Of course, 
doubts are much lower today than they should be. That's how a part of online 
crime works.

On the other hand is the proof of the integrity of a message often enough even 
if you do not know the person. Quite often people have to make manual 
signatures without being knows to the person who demands for that. Often the 
content is less important than the possibility to hold someone responsible for 

Another point: I get most of my (both private and professional) emails from 
people I know.

> The reach of trust has been extended, sure, but
> that doesn't help much when there isn't trust.

Right. I would put it this way:
A signature cannot raise the trust in a message content above the trust in the 
sender / signer. But a missing signature can (and usually will) lower the 
trust in the message content below the trust in the (non-proven) sender.

> Imagine what would've happened if Roger had sent me that as a *signed*
> email.

> In this second alternate history, MFPA sends me a signed message

And which of these scenarios is more probable? Who will after starting to sign 
emails start to send emails to people he is not familiar with? The first 
szenario is an improvement for you, the second does not make a difference 
(except for some wasted bandwith). Leaving out the cost it would not make 
sense to do without signatures.

> time as me and posting incredibly offensive things on University forums
> using my name.

> For a while I considered signing everything,

Which is BTW not so easy. Many people use webmail. And there are reasons for 
not importing private keys onto work PCs. I am often too lazy to plug in the 
smartcard reader. But in the signature I apologize for not signing the mail. 
;-)  And if the content was important I would use the smartcard, of course.

> so I could then deny making
> those posts.  "I didn't write that!  I sign everything!  That has a
> bad/missing signature!"

You probably wouldn't even have to because everyone who is in regular contact 
with you would know that. On the other hand: Signing in a web forum seems kind 
of extreme (and unsafe with respect to breaking the signature by automatic 
text formatting). :-)

> And then I imagined my dean answering, "That proves nothing: after all,
> if I was posting this stuff I wouldn't sign it, either."

Would not make much sense to use the name but not sign it, though.

> 	* Signatures on mailing lists are mostly (and maybe
> 	  entirely) useless because of how few members have
> 	  pre-existing trust relationships with others

The ability to hold someone responsible for his messages (which usually 
requires a signature but a signature is not enough to ensure that) is not the 
same like trust but an important point, too.

PGP: D44C 6A5B 71B0 427C CED3 025C BD7D 6D27 ECCB 5814
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