Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How Not to Admin a Tracker

I'm assuming most of the audience that is actually moving in the tracker direction is running or planning to run a small operation, for the time being at least. That means spamming all over the place for your site, and that means your previous identity (with all its slip-ups) is irrevocably connected with your site.

Chances are, when you first got involved in the P2P community, you were scared shitless. If you weren't, you should've been. If you were paranoid, you should have made a new account unrelated to any other you might have online. If you didn't, go do that now. Otherwise you're opening yourself up to a whole world of hurt. After a while, you start to relax, to become blasé about the whole copyright issue, and you start to get sloppy again.

Now take this unconcerned you and put it in charge of a BitTorrent tracker. You're probably a little concerned, but that goes away fast. It's just a small operation, after all. It can't hurt.

The problem is that small operations have a way of becoming big operations, and your behavior has a way of sticking around. Even if you've been careful to delete posts as you grow, the curse/blessing that is archive.org will remember your transgressions. All of a sudden, you're at the head of a booming site, and oh shit, what have you done? You go to cover your tracks, but it's too late, of course.

Chances are that if you're headed down this road, you're not far along. You can still change now. Don't make these silly mistakes. If you're going to be involved in your own community, which I recommend, create a new username for it. Don't let hubris enter into the equation. It's tempting to join other torrent sites and go "look at my awesomeness!". Don't. Your admin username should be used only in the context of your own site, and in your dealings with other sites. It's tainted in a different way, and it's dangerous to mix things together.

As well, it's helpful to have an alter ego. Create somebody that is plausibly of the same character as you, but comes from a dramatically different background. Trust me, it's a good idea. You're role-playing, and you should never drop that identity, even with your closest online friends.

Of course, this is the product of much painful experience. Do as I say, not as I do. Accessible as I want the prospect to be, it can be dangerous work, and you have to take it seriously, no matter the size of your site.

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