Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Verified Identity

Well, Monday came and went without any disruption to the site. There had been threats that the site would be brought down Monday night at 9PM Eastern time. There was no such drama.

But there is internal drama, or at least voicing of opinions by videos and blog entries, about the topic of Indentity Verification. It is supposed to be a cornerstone of VH. The thinking is that a person should be held responsible for their actions in the community. If a person acts in a way that gets them banned, they should not be able to get right back in using a new identity. This happens all the time on YouTube. Also, VH wants to avoid "sock puppet" accounts where one person interacts using many different member names. This also happens on YouTube. One person can appear to have many subscribers, viewers and commenters when in reality, many of the accounts were created by the same person. Or, a person could use sock puppet accounts to create drama by arguing with... themselves!

VH members are enjoying the community and many have stated that they have made more friends here in a shorter time than they have on any other site. They seem to be comfortable with the community. Part of this is probably due to the fact that this is a controlled environment. The admins only invite people they know, and they take the time to interact with the community to address their concerns and report on new and upcoming features.

In the next phase of expansion, the admins want to allow anyone to invite people to the site. Once this happens, people will enter that the admins don't personally know. In order to keep the same level of comfort and trust in the community, the admins want to roll out a system of Identity Verification. It has been suggested that this may require present and future members to submit a credit card number or other form of unique ID. Many in the community are wary of this. Some worry about the safety of their information and imagine that a hacker might get into the VH database.

Renetto recently made a video that mentioned Identity Verification. He said the admins were looking into "third parties" that currently provide this service. They are evaluating these companies and may present their proposed identity vendor to the community in the near future. If they use a third party, it is possible that the VH admins will not hold any ID data in their database and may not have access to it via the third party either. Presumably, the admins will choose a trustworthy company that has a track record of safeguarding sensative data. Until they decide how they will implement the identity verification function and tell the community exactly how it will work, all the community can do is speculate and talk about what they would or would not be comfortable in doing to verify their identity.

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