Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Peer Management

Okay, I'm not in fantastic condition at the moment, but I want to keep things going. I'll just grab on to a recent suggestion – discussing ratios in a community context – and run with it.

Basically, any simple, closed system will be balanced, no matter the context: total uploads will equal total downloads. No matter how your tracker records data, it will always be tracking as much uploaded data as it does downloaded data, neglecting hash fails.

Therefore, when the ratio tracking system is altered, you will do nothing but alter the community dynamic. There will always be supposed gormless bottom-feeders at the bottom of your scale, and theoretical paragons of virtue at the top. Sorta. In my experience, chronic leechers are mostly those that simply haven't been initiated into proper torrent etiquette. I know in my early days of torrenting, I was quite unnerved by the prospect of others being able to connect to and download from me. To be sure, I didn't go out of my way to do this, until it became a point of personal pride to maintain a ratio above 1.0. It is only my involvement in the community that drove me to do this.

Now, think of an open site like The Pirate Bay. The tracker is simply a collection of its parts, each behaving according to their own conscience. The leechers leech according to their desire for gratification (or lesser experience, or lesser ability), while the seeders do so because of pride or generosity or simply because the swarm is so slow they end up uploading far more data than the download size by the time they complete. And you know what? It works. It may not work well, but it works.

Now, ratio-obsessed private trackers choose to whack off that bottom demographic, the people that are disinclined to share. That's all well and good, but you simply move the community's scale. Instead of having the true leechers at the bottom end of the scale, now you have the metaphorical middle class down there. In my experience, such systems tend to drift ever upwards as users are banned for poor ratios – in other words, as the bottom end of the spectrum is chopped off again and again. Obviously, these systems rely on new registrations to add a continual stream of new members to slow or halt that drift.

This is compensated for by free leech days, golden torrents, what have you. However, the only people that will participate in this activity are those that are genuinely concerned about ratios. They're not downloading torrents because they want to, but because it will improve their status in the community. To me, this is contrary to the purpose of file sharing. You share what you've got because you want to share it, and people accept what you're sharing because they want to have it.

Basically, these events are designed to fix a system that doesn't work properly all the time. If you need to schedule special events to compensate for your model, you must be doing something wrong. I would prefer to have a system that works in the same way and with the same effectiveness every day, rather than just once in a while.

So where's the solution? I don't have an answer. I don't think anyone does. I certainly do use a couple of private sites, but I also use the big boys when they have what I need or when I don't feel like destroying my ratio trying to seed back. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," comes to mind, but I can't deny that swarms on private trackers do seem to perform better, so clearly something has been fixed or at least improved upon. Personally, I would prefer to see more personal treatment towards leechers. I believe that most leechers simply haven't been properly introduced to the social protocol (heh) associated with torrenting. If someone is actually intentionally and knowingly violating accepted behavior, they will take pains to hide it by using a cheating client of some sort. Therefore, wouldn't it be logical to take some means to inform the uninformed? I prefer not to participate in a community that is ultimately built on fear. It smells bad.

This is just meant as some food for thought, and hopefully will dispel some feelings of superiority on either side. Again, I'm sorry for my unfocused meandering, for my inability to make a solid point, and for any typographical errors I may have made. I'll probably read this over sometime when I'm in better intellectual shape and say, "I can't believe I said that," but there's nothing to be done. At least you got a post.

I had intended to write my tracker tutorial this week, but ah well. I'll do it sometime in the future. Stay tuned for that.

1 comment:

oomwrtu said...

Good stuff, thanks for sharing your insights. Even though I have no intentions of running a tracker I enjoy reading about the issues that plague tracker-runners.

Clicky Web Analytics