Cruel incentives and zero-sum game: are they essential to the goal?

I wonder if some of the rules and incentives are not causing them to become perverse in this meaning of the word. Just like the recent case of the combination of imprecise rules and misinterpretation of these rules by jurors.

This is then tied to the notion that the underlying principle in some of the interactions is a zero-sum game, and why is this essential to the survival of the project. I know some of you are very well versed in game theory so you could illustrate how this strategy is better than others.


I’ve had the exact thought, and a theoretical solution.

We’re currently incentivizing adversarial behavior. I wonder if, instead, we could incentivize collaborative behavior — and still ensure the integrity of the PoH registry. E.g., reward people for helping true human applicants comply with the rules.

I’m completely aware that this may not be possible; that it’s not as clear cut as creating adversarial relationships. But if there was a way to do it, that’d be far preferable.


Perverse incentives would mean that those lead to malicious submissions more likely to make it. It is not the case and we actually still have to hear about a malicious submission making it into the registry (it will happen and it’s fine, the goal is not to catch all malicious applicants but to catch them at a rate sufficiently high enough that on average they lose identities trying to game the system).

The system is actually a combination of both those behaviors:

  • Challenges are adversarial as they are made to catch malicious submissions (and there is no way to make that collaborative, as malicious submitters would not collaborate).
  • Vouching relies on collaborative behavior as parties do not get any reward vouching for others and take a risk (getting removed in case of malicious submission). People still vouch altruistically to people they know to help them.
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That is twisting the definition of perverse incentives, and deviating the fact that the rules were imprecise (which everyone agrees by now) and they were exploited. I was not talking about the bad actors entering the system, I was referring to what happens in the registry procedure.

It seems that you could easily encourage collaborative behavior by giving a slice (say 10%) of vouched for registrants’ UBI to those who vouched for them, held in escrow to the end of the year and forfeited if registrant is removed before the year is up. Could make it 10% for the year, or 10% of the first month, or something else.