Some thoughts have been expressed about the concept of a Senior Assurer.

Our Egalitarian Past

The idea of a Senior Assurer is a controversial subject, in that historically, Assurance within CAcert has been perceived to be almost egalitarian. Anyone can do it, an approach that derives to some extent from the political/social beliefs of the net culture and the desire to create a community. At its pragmatic level, the "anyone can do it" approach helps to getting the job done.

Indeed, it may be that we just need an expanded "Officer Corp" rather than a concept of some sort of group of advanced Assurers.

What might a Senior Assurer be? A checklist.

Having said that, it might help to create a checklist of things that a Senior Assurer might be. Out of that list, with some slashing & burning, we might be able to craft more of an ideal ... which will help the debate.

The following has been collected, inclusively, from any comments ever made. That is, any comment has been included, no matter that it might be discriminatory, stupid or illegal.

Why do we want this?

The Senior Assurer is not so much of a direct, listed role, but rather a general recognition of having gone far. With such a signal of breadth and depth, we can potentially bring these senior people into more active roles.

Spreading the Word of the Policy

As policies and documents are created, their import has to be spread to the assurers. Several policies have been created in CAcert, but they need to go to the next step: being read and followed.

The need to distribute their effect is looming in the future. As an audit imperitive, policies have to both be created, and followed. How we get 10,000 Assurers to read and follow new policies is an issue for CAcert.

There isn't much point in just emailing the Assurers and saying "hey, read this long boring document," we need something more positive, something more responsive. It would be good to have a cadre of strong Assurers who could take these new developments out to the wider body.

Some Roles have Wider Ramifications

It is certainly the case that some things (events, offices and organisational assurances) have wider ramifications than just the WoT assurance process covers.

One thing that is immediately obvious is that a new Assurer would probably not have the experience for these things. We should expect that someone senior was in control, someone who has a year or two's experience and can juggle the various conflicts and interests.

Thinking in Audit terms, we can expect scrutiny of those things to start once the foundation of assurance is properly laid out.

Not all People are the Same

There is an issue with all Assurers being "the same." In the past this was a sort of encouraging rallying call, but now there are a lot of more experienced people, and the world of CAcert has become a lot more complex. Some people with a lot of experience are ignored because they are, apparently, "the same" as people who have just collected 100 points. It would be nice to point out who has this broader experience (which doesn't mean that they have to be listened to, but at least the signal is there).

Rewards are Helpful

It would be nice to reward those who put in good service, beyond the normal. In time, a benefit might be that being accepted as a Senior Assurer can add value to the individual's CV/resume. Already we have seen people put "CAcert Assurer" on their documents, and that act has to indicate something of value.

Current Metrics

Currently the only metric that signals to us how experienced an Assurer is seems to be the number of assurances done. But, that has a potential drawback: some people apply more due diligence than others, and the race to get as many assurances up on the points would probably lead to the exact reverse of what we want. We would see a quantity race where we want a quality standard.

Hence, CAcert has recently moved to have those experienced Assurers not do any more assurances at events, and instead work on helping the less experienced people, which is an early sign of evolving towards a Senior Assurer.


There are something like 8000 assurers. There is a limit to how far CAcert can go just by treating this as a homogeneous body; we are already seeing quite tricky clashes between country groups.