Advogato

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Advogato is an online community site dedicated to free software development, created by Raph Levien. It describes itself as "the free software developer's advocate." Advogato was an early pioneer of "online diaries", which later became known as blogs, and one of the earliest social networking websites. Advogato combined the most recent entries from each user's diary together into a single continuous feed called the recentlog. This directly inspired the creation of the Planet aggregator somewhat later.

Many high profile members of the free software and open source software movements are or have been users of the site including Richard M. Stallman, Eric Raymond, Alan Cox, Bruce Perens, Jamie Zawinski and others.

Because Advogato was the first website to use a robust, attack-resistant trust metric and to release the underlying code for that trust mechanism under a free software license, it has been the basis of numerous research papers on trust metrics and social networking (see the list below for specific examples). Advogato's early adoption of an XML-RPC interface led to its use as an example of how such interfaces could be used by web programmers.[1]

Advogato is still used as a testbed for social networking and semantic web technologies. Tim Berners-Lee, who is an Advogato user himself, included Advogato in a short list of sites that should be noted for their early adoption of the FOAF as a method of exporting user RDF URIs.[2]

Contents

Trust metric

The motivating idea for Advogato was to try out in practice Levien's ideas about attack resistant trust metrics, having users certify each other in a kind of peer review process and use this information to avoid the abuses that plague open community sites. Levien observed that his notion of attack resistant trust metric was fundamentally very similar to the PageRank algorithm used by Google to rate article interest. In the case of Advogato, the trust metric is designed to include all individuals who could reasonably be considered members of the Free Software and Open Source communities while excluding others.

The implementation of this trust metric is through an Apache module called mod virgule[1]. mod_virgule is free software, licensed under the GPL and written in C. It is used by several websites other than Advogato.

Despite the trust metric, posting privileges to the front page of Advogato[3] have been gained by an individual notorious for his self-proclaimed but allegedly discredited claim to be an "AI theorist"[4], illustrating just how complex the problem of trust is.

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