W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-html@w3.org > February 2000

RSAC stupidity?

From: <rev-bob@gotc.com>
Date: 02 Feb 2000 12:20:12 -0500
To: www-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <200002021221334.SM01060@Unknown.>
> > This is exactly why I downloaded the relevant content (the rating level
> > list and definitions) and only go by the site once in a while to see if
> > anything's changed.  Once you register one page and get the specs,
> > you can rate your other pages on your own.
> 	That's a breach of either copyright or trademark
> 	legislation.  I admit I haven't read the terms 
> 	recently and their site now has javascript: links, which
> 	I'm not prepared to use, but the conditions for use
> 	of the RSACi rating system used to be that you must
> 	rate the site using their web page.

Well, if it was that way once, it isn't that way now - and I frankly don't
remember it *ever* being that way.  From the current FAQ, section 4:

| 4.1 I have a web site. What do I need to do to rate my site? 
| The easiest way to get your site rated is to put a PICS rating tag on
| your web pages. This rating can be created using the RSACi rating
| system found at http://www.rsac.org and follow the on-screen
| instructions. After filling out the online questionnaire, do the following: 

Notice the phrases "the easiest way" and "can be" - both of which
are meaningless *unless* at least one other way to rate the site exists.
A bit later on, the FAQ gives examples of how to "roll your own"
META tags...hardly the act of an organization that wants all ratings
to go through their questionaire.  In fact, as far as I can tell, my advice
earlier dovetails nicely with their intent - use the site to get started,
then do it yourself once you get the hang of it.

Check out this fragment from section 4.3:

| Note: Do not change the content of the PICS tag unless you
| understand the PICS specification (http://www.w3.org/PICS)
| as the syntax is fairly complex. 

That's not "do not change, ever" - that's "be careful".

Just to be on the safe side (as opposed to the SafeSurf side), I've
dropped a quick line to ICRA (the guys that absorbed RSAC) to
get an official yea-or-nay on the subject.

> 	There are a couple of reasons for doing this:
> 	1) they know who has registered, so can track down
> 	   forged ratings;

They're supposedly working on an RSACi-sensitive crawler
which would test the validity of ratings.  And what constitutes
a "forged" rating, anyway?  Everything I've seen about their
organization seems more concerned with accuracy than
heritage - and even with RSAC as it was applied to computer
games, it seems the game companies are rating their own
products, under the caveat that if they rate something
improperly, they face repercussions when RSAC finds out
about it.  The underlying concept is not RSAC-as-ratings-board,
but rather RSACi as a consistent rating system that can be
objectively assigned by anyone with the requisite definitions.

> 	2) at least originally, there was a possibility that
> 	   the service would be charged for.

Not from the documents they've got online.  Under "Reports",
the first document describes the evolution of RSACi and notes
specifically that, unlike RSAC, it was intended as a free construct.

> 	Also, they ought to audit rated sites to make sure that
> 	they are correctly rated and registering with them
> 	ensures that that happens.

No, it doesn't.  The RSACi site-based rating system is based on
the answers the publisher gives to a questionaire, which may or may
not correspond to the actual content.  All registering does is let you
fill out the questionaire; it makes no guarantees about accuracy.
That's why people are encouraged to let RSACi know if someone's
using improper ratings.

Basically, I find that I can do a better and faster job of rating by
being familiar with the scales and coding my own tags than I can by
connecting to www.rsac.org and working my way through their
questionaire.  Since the goal is self-rating, what does it matter who
generates the tag, so long as it's accurate?  I really don't foresee RSACi
having a problem with this practice.

> 	(The general problem with these services is that people
> 	tend to rate all minimum (often incorrectly) or all
> 	maximum, without thinking what the appropriate rating
> 	really is.)

According to the site, RSACi has had to talk with *three* sites on
the grounds of improper ratings.  Three.  Two of those just
misunderstood something and changed their ratings accordingly,
and the third decided to remove the ratings altogether.

 Rev. Robert L. Hood  | http://rev-bob.gotc.com/
  Get Off The Cross!  | http://www.gotc.com/
Received on Wednesday, 2 February 2000 12:19:39 UTC

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