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Luis and his team of vigilantes (referred to as just The Knights) want to expand to a worldwide society.

The founding members could head the organization, teaching others while ensuring the Knights stay on track with their goals and ideals. However, Luis fears making himself or anyone a central authority over The Knights; this would undermine the goals they are working towards. Intrigued by how cryptocurrencies work, he wonders if a "proof of work" or "proof of stake" algorithm could be used for charitable/hero work instead of computational work. The Knights work by defending the innocent when necessary, but also by doing charity work for those in need. Their ideals include honesty, privacy, and freedom.

The Knights should:

  • allow anyone to join (as long as the new member is capable and willing to maintain the Knights' ideals)
  • be able to reprimand a member who is not acting ethically
  • be anonymous
  • have access to tools and information not available to the public
  • allow members to share information with each other

For example, even the founding members could be reprimanded (including expulsion), but ONLY if they somehow betray the organization's ideals.

The Knights should not be able to:

  • be taken over by centralized organizations (governments, terrorist groups, etc.)
  • become centralized
  • change their core ideals
  • be able to perform public actions against their ideals without being reprimanded

(some clarification on this last point: The Knights value privacy. They don't care what other knights do in their private time; this refers only to actions when in public as a knight)

These points don't need to be fulfilled so that they are 100% guaranteed, but they should be unlikely or implausible (e.g. cryptocurrencies can be taken over by controlling over 50% of the mining pool, but that's quite hard to do for most cryptocurrencies).

Some ideas I have that may or may not be useful:

  • limit the amount of new members to a certain amount each month (or day or year or whatever)
  • admissions include a 'job interview' with a randomly selected Knight
  • have ranked choice voting each month on new applications and have the most voted members join
  • have 'performance reviews' using random Knights (or voting once again)
  • make sure Knights are geographically evenly distributed

These could answer some concerns, but still leaves some questions open (how would such a voting system be implemented?)

What must Luis do to allow the Knights to go global without centralizing them?

Edit: By anonymous, I mean more like "superhero secret identity" than "Anonymous". If a citizen encounters a knight, they will probably know which knight they encountered, but not necessarily who that person is when they're not acting as a knight. This means that the public could theoretically reprimand a knight. Basically, if a knight went completely off the wagon, it would show up on the news. The knights would know exactly which knight committed the crimes, but not the identity of the knight.

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    $\begingroup$ To put it another way, where does someone who has been wronged by the knights (who have no complaints procedures and close ranks against anyone's criticism - because they are above such things) and have no other recourse in society to justice, no-one they can trust, where do they go? Doesn't this necessitate another even more secret society of Knight-knights to police them? And then who will police that lot in turn? $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 0:26
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    $\begingroup$ Ahh, then they can't be a secret society, every action however small must be completely transparent to the whole society, and must be accountable through the courts (?), the slightest grievance also being subject to extensive public scrutiny. Hmm, now I get it. So, what makes them vigilantes then, isn't that just a well maintained police force by another name? $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 2:36
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    $\begingroup$ ...Cont, a well maintained police force with no management but great PR.. Sounds nightmarish in it's implications. $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 2:52
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    $\begingroup$ You can't have a decentralized organization that also holds its members accountable. That requires someone to have higher authority than others. You can do what you want with a central authority and a checks and balance system to prevent/reduce corruption; this could be successful or not, depending on implementation and the people involved. $\endgroup$
    – Taejang
    Jun 30 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ @KlausHaukenstein except you want them to be anonymous, which means they can't be accountable to society. you have basically removed any way to make them anonymous. you have create armed mercenaries with less accountability than 4chan posters. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 30 at 15:43

10 Answers 10

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Two of your goals are in contradiction to each other.

You want them to be resistant to centralization, but be accountable and fixed in views. If they're not centralized the individuals will evolve and change as they see fit, and people intentionally fake having your values so they can take over the organization to aim at their political enemies.

This has happened often with major organizations, and is a common end result of decentralization. You don't need government or terrorist infiltration for this to happen- there are lots of political types who are looking for an organization to join who will pervert the goals towards their desires.

You want to fight criminals? But what about the real criminals, immigrants/ the rich/ a disliked race/ a disliked sex/ meat eaters/ nuclear power supporters?

What you need is a semi centralized structure built by the core.

Luis would set up new chapterhouses in varying locations with people they saw as trustworthy and good and useful. Chaptermasters, or whatever democratic structures people valued that included people who were trusted would be able to vote and discuss and coordinate actions and share intel and resources.

New people wouldn't be able to vote to change the goals or the organization or get free access to the more hidden resources, unless they worked their way up the organization to gain greater levels of access and became friends with other chapter masters. The leadership of each chapter house could achieve your goals, and prevent goal drift.

In the same way, no one knows what all the branches are doing. Each Chaptermaster knows their people and can keep them accountable, and each Chaptermaster will know some other Chaptermasters and their up and coming people, but they won't know the whole organization. Everyone in the core leadership is recruited by someone trustworthy, but there's no core central organization of trustworthiness.

If you want a completely accountable organization you need an AI.

People aren't good at doing performance reviews, as they let personal bias creep in, don't agree on definitions, and let personal feelings creep in. A cryptocurrency to allow membership promotion would quickly be gamed, but for access to lesser resources like money, or favors, or things that can't be gamed you could design an AI to analyze crime impact.

This AI would use police reports, social media, and all data sources you provide it to evaluate the impact of each member according to an agreed upon set of ideals, that only the Chaptermaster leadership could vote on. New members could download an app and note their actions and gain social credit which could help them advance in the organization.

You'd still need people for the more sensitive information and power, because AI algorithms can be gamed, but this would allow you to make the lower levels more anonymous and accountable.

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    $\begingroup$ of course accountability is also contrary to them being anonymous. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 30 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ I like your last point: you need an ai. It worked for Heinlein in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress." $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Jun 30 at 19:24
  • $\begingroup$ @NomadMaker that's exactly what it reminded me of, too. $\endgroup$
    – SQB
    Jul 2 at 19:25
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The sociology of this is difficult, and may not be entirely compatible with human nature. However, this being fiction, we can downplay enough of the stumbling blocks that it might work if the formula were just so.

Our system needs decentralization as you've hinted, but this pretty much rules out "voting on new recruits". That just won't work, the cliques and bureaucracy that develop will eventually make that a popularity contest.

Furthermore, we need that decentralization to avoid the worst sorts of corruptions. If this becomes the NYPD with 50,000 members strong, all belonging to a robust, self-serving organization, how long can it be before they're just in it for themselves?

We're going to go with a terrorist-network-like cell organization system. You never know the names of more than a few others, you can't rat out anyone else. Furthermore, it always feels small to you, the new recruit (or seasoned veteran). No one has your back. No one will show up and corroborate your story. The maximum cell size will be 3. As attrition wipes away various members, you will have no back-chain with which to send messages to other cells, either.

Some knight (A) recruits two more members (B and C). This knight's original recruiter may or may not still live. If in some vigilante action, both B and C are killed, A just starts over. For that matter, if any event leads to just one surviving knight, he recruits two more (not simultaneously, training up one, then another months/years later).

But if two survive, they part ways and start new cells somewhere else, never making contact again.

There is no authority, other than a small set of rules that they transmit to each other when recruiting/training. Anyone captured/tortured can't snitch but on a few others, within their own cell. Of course, if all they have is their name and ideals, and don't go tattooing themselves up with logos or wearing sacred robes or other silly stuff, anyone who captures them might not even know that they belong to the Knights of Nee(dful Vigilanteeism). In many cases, authorities might not even ask captured knights the right questions.

This should cause growth to be slow, such that new cells are uncommon, it might take years before circumstances cause new cells to be created. Almost (but not quite) balanced out by the destruction of entire cells (all 3 wiped out).

This system or one close to it has the greatest chance of giving you results similar to those you desire, though it doesn't conform to your proposed rules & system. So we're ditching:

  • Voting on new applicants
  • Performance reviews

The voting wouldn't serve to help get good recruits. It just spreads around blame if things go bad. Not every new recruit will be good, part of figuring out whether an individual will be a good candidate for any job means evaluating them as they do the job, something that's just not possible before they do it. And performance reviews are really about keeping people in line with a sort of secret police (we all know how well that works in the real world with IA and cops!). Instead, we've replaced this with a small core of people who can exert peer pressure meaningfully (the other two members of the cell).

What we do get out of this is:

  • Resistance to centralization
  • Anonymity
  • Reprimands from others when needed
  • Limited growth
  • Even geographic distribution

What we only get some of:

  • Resistance to tenet mutation

This one's tough. Some recruits will have their recruiter (A) killed early, perhaps before they were taught everything. Now they have to strike out for a new city and recruit their own cells. Others will suffer setbacks and defeats that compel them to change their ideals, and perhaps even found new cells with those modified. However, if we look at other human institutions, the rate of change for these things can be slow, with many other groups maintaining various dogmas and such for centuries at a time with very little change.

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    $\begingroup$ The last one (resistance to tenet mutation) could be solved with a good propaganda network - built in the same way, a number of different cells each generating propaganda that spreads virally. If done well this propaganda would reinforce the core tenets of the knights, and also generate a popular mythology that gives them legitimacy in society $\endgroup$
    – ChrisJ
    Jun 30 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ @ChrisJ Propaganda gives rise to copycats and impostors. But that can be solved by the members being expected to root them out if they do not follow the tennets and fully training them (thus creating a new cell) if they are salvageable. $\endgroup$
    – mishan
    Jun 30 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ If anything this makes tenet mutation MORE likely, that is the problem resistance groups have had since forever. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 30 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ @John Resistance groups are both expected and known. They're expected because of a military occupation or because of oppressive government policy. They fight against those organizations. This is fighting against crime, is it not? Batman style? Only children and fools expect actual Batmans. Police departments have historically been loathe to connect so-called isolated crimes into bigger patterns as it's bad PR. How many serial killers used to get away with that stuff for decades because of their apathy? They should be able to avoid mutation for a long time. $\endgroup$
    – John O
    Jun 30 at 19:44
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    $\begingroup$ this is going to be extremely prone to schisms, because group communication is minimal, so each group is working on THEIR interpretation of the law and acceptable actions/force, not a standardized one. this is the single biggest problem with vigilantism and this does nothing to change it. also police don't often look for larger patterns in crime because most crime is not organized, starting by assuming connections you do not have evidence for is extremely ineffective and prone to confirmation bias. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 30 at 19:59
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A minor frame challenge to start with:

have access to tools and information not available to the public

allow anyone to join

(should not) change their core ideals

These goals are incompatible. The first two criteria alone make it difficult because you either have a public platform where anyone can pretty much gain access or you have a private platform where there is some significant barrier between the in group and everyone else. So you pretty much need to drop or otherwise scale back your expectations on one of these two requirements.

The reason I include the third criterium is because resolving the first two means requiring some method for members to select who has the merit to become members. Once you let an organization self-select who has access, membership becomes more about politics than merit. So, undesirables (pick your prejudice) will naturally be selected against the longer the organization exists leading to extremism. So, instead of maintaining it's heroic core ideals, these ideals will be radicalized until they become villainous. Keep in mind that many villains (Lex Luthar, Magneto, Thanos, etc.) actually have heroic core values, but they are cranked up so high that it leads them to do terrible things. Let's say for example a couple of founding members do not like aliens. They may be moderate enough to let in "good aliens" at first, but they are more likely to select candidates that are also anti-alien, and be more strict in voting out those aliens that do get in. Over time, the population of the vigilante groups will continue to self select for more and more anti-alien members until eventually, just being an alien-rights sympathizer will be grounds for exclusion. The end result is a culture where eventually Superman could never become a member no matter how heroic he is, and guys like Lex Luthor can climb the ranks in spite of his many infractions, purely because of how popular his anti-alien stance makes him.

Since both of these issues revolve around "not available to the public", the best solution will be to ignore/minimize this requirement so that the other 2 can be maintained. While "allow anyone to join" and "should not change their core ideals" also seems contradictory, there are actually good real world solutions to this problem.

So, I think the best compromise here is to make the platform publicly accessible, but not have users include any PII in thier user profiles. So, superheros can learn all about the best places to buy crime fighting gear, discuss how to avoid conflicts with law enforcement, and debate the ethical ramifications of any given action etc, all in a more or less publicly accessible fashion, but without revealing anyone's secrete identity which is really the whole point about caring about if it is public or private.

The Solution: vigilante.stackexchange.com

This exact forum we are using is designed for pretty much what you are talking about. It has core rules set forth in the beginning, but ultimately it uses voting and gamification to accredit reputable persons who then have the most power to moderate actions and in a more abstract since, simply speak with more authority because thier reputation score is so high. Those who participate long enough to gain a high reputation will generally be indoctrinated enough in the culture by the time they get there to be mostly compelled to upkeep the culture.

So Mothman (rep.173) might write the question about something like, "If a bad guy captures my sidekick, how many innocent strangers have to be in danger before I should focus on saving the innocent people over my sidekick?"

High reputation users like Batman(rep.71,462) and Superman(rep.44,121) who've been on the stack since the beginning would have options to moderate the post above and beyond what new comers would have, but they would not have unlimited power to just close the post unless some concensious of users is reached. So, Superman might knee jerk VtC the post because he finds the very idea of the question offensive to his own personal beliefs, but as long as it is on topic, most heroes will not VtC it; so, Superman's personal beliefs can not just over-ride those of the community, no matter how much reputation he has. This helps ensure that being a founding member grants enough authority to guide the tradition of the stack exchange but not enough to become a centralized power unto himself.

The reason no government or criminal can just come in usurp the stack is because the only way to rise in reputation is to post in ways that most active users agree with. Sure TheJoker (rep.1) can join, but he's not going to actually gain access to any meaningful tools in the SE unless he is actually posting things that reinforce the culture of the stack and prove to be useful to the other vigilantes who are looking for guidance... so even if he does eventually become a 10,000+ rep user, it's because he's actually spent months/years cementing the values of the stack and training up a better next generation of heroes. So, any little bit of harm he might be able to do along the way will likely come at the cost doing a lot to help the heroic community... and if it ever becomes apparent at any stage that he is using his account(s) to manipulate things in unapproved ways, there is always the elected moderator ban. This is of course a pretty rare and serious course of action when taken against established used (no wants to see the re-instate Joker tag start going around) but it happens all the time when with low rep junk accounts.

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  • $\begingroup$ It's searchable (SE I mean), how do you stop the spotty 14 year-old learning all the secrets and gaming the system - or exposing the "worst" on metube alongside defamation and disinformation. $\endgroup$ Jun 29 at 22:05
  • $\begingroup$ @ARogueAnt. One of the biggest things the elected moderators on SE do it look for people gaming the system. It's pretty common for user accounts to be removed for this, and they rarely get to meaningful user permissions before these gaming behaviors are noticed. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 29 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ Comment updated since the ping. It's easy to create enemies. $\endgroup$ Jun 29 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ Vigilantes are getting defamed on meTube one way or another. However, knowing this, the vigilantes will actually have an extra layer of accountability not to post horrible things. So while batman might eventually become jaded on a private forum and start telling other supers to kill people, on a public forum, he would be held up to the court of public options and be less likely to make immoral statements that could be cited against him. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jun 29 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds good, but I'm also concerned about special interest groups such as the multimedia giants taking it upon themselves to trace and cancel/eradicate their perceived competition - I guess that's not in the remit of answers to the question, just a general concern in life ;) $\endgroup$ Jun 29 at 22:16
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There will be an app for that

If this organization operates in a modern society, modern software can take care of its needs, similarly to how software takes care of other decentralized networks.

While the organization itself is decentralized, the app must be hosted in a trusted source, and only a limited group of trusted developers can authorize any changes to it.

Once an aspiring member of the organization downloads the app, he or she creates personal profile and applies for full membership. Membership application is reviewed be automated algorithms, and a set of interviewers is selected. If the new member passes interviews, a whole set of new functionality is open in the app. Keep in mind that this is not in-the-app information filter within the application, but encryption/decryption keys maintained by the network. Thus, it is not possible to hack an individual app to gain access to restricted information, this access would be granted only to the confirmed members.

Full member can have access to the society's private information and would be required to participate in its business - particularly having a duty to evaluate other member's actions and deciding if they have to be disciplined.

There may be several "tiers" of membership with expanding access to the information. At the lowers tier, members have access only to "public internal" information, while at the highest there will be access to very sensitive operative information.

Government agencies can infiltrate this network, but it would be virtually impossible to bring it down.

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  • $\begingroup$ how exactly do you monitor them, an app can't do a performance review for something as subjective as vigilantism. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 29 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ @John while some aspects of performance reviews can be handled by the app, it will be mostly human process conducted by other members. After engaging in action, member will fill out a report, and someone will review it (just like in the law enforcement today). $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jun 29 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ so basically the app is useless if they lie on their report, because there is no physical oversight. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 30 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ @John just as these is no oversight over law enforcement officers when they are on patrol. Sure, we can introduce bodycams, if we want it. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Jun 30 at 6:51
  • $\begingroup$ And we see how well that works, actually there often is oversight in the form of A a partner and B frequent direct observation of conduct, direct supervision of officers is actually fairly common. then you have things like the ability to be sued, which this system lacks. police have no anonymity. then you have problems like the blue wall of silence which an app can do nothing to counter. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 30 at 14:39
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The Knights belong to a religion.

Lots of people belong to this religion. It is a popular one because the ideals set forth in the holy texts are appealing and societally acceptable. These texts are old and widely distributed and read and so not amenable to edits added by governments or interested persons.

Persons who wish to engage in knightly activities can do so, as little or as often as they see fit. They can be great deeds or they might just be small activities. Those are good too. There can be all kinds of knights.

Public persons, knights or otherwise, who claim to be adherents to this religion and who do public deeds that are contrary to the ideals of this widely followed religion should be called out by fellow adherents, knights or otherwise. They should be called out! Call them out!

Persons can be anonymous in their knightly and idealistic actions. The Knights do as they do because they believe in their ideals, not because they are trying to impress anyone or gain status.

Do the Knights have secret knowledge? I think a Knight will tell you that they do, but that you are invited to share it.

But as for your bullet points: there are no performance reviews, no admission list, no rankings, no interviews. Those fly counter to the core principles of honesty and privacy.

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by Do the Knights have secret knowledge? I think a Knight will tell you that they do, but that you are invited to share it.? I think this part might need rephrased $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ You might also look at how 12 step organizations run. The main thing is that there are a set of shared ideas, aka like a religion. Part of the idea is the anonymity. Have the knights always do their efforts anonymously. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Jun 30 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ Sounds like "A study in scarlet" $\endgroup$ Jun 30 at 18:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ because religions never spawn extremist organizations, schisms, or factionists. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jun 30 at 19:35
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Self governing cells

Interestingly, we can look at groups who try to do this already. Many criminal or terrorist organisations work decentralised, while still communicating with each other.

communication

First you need communication. Like another answer, an app or whole telecom system can be developed for secure communication. We even have that now. In many countries the emergency services are on their own network to prevent interference and prying eyes. But criminals certainly do so as well. They use special phones that should be secure (although some are produced by the government to gather information on criminals. No joke.). This way, information can be shared to critical parts of the organisation in a secure manner.

The act of sharing this information can be done anonymously, though sharing of information can of course lead to identification. In addition, the identity of knights is always known at some level, as people are selected and trained. Yet this can represent the most anonymous network to spread globally, allowing one person to never know most of the knights in the world.

Each communication device/setup acts as their own server. This limits the amount of (encrypted) information one can have, while always available for others. It also makes it necessary to share information and stay connected for better information analysis.

cells

Second is to make cells that run themselves. One or a few knights go to an area to patrol, make decisions and share information if needed. To aid their effectiveness, it is recommended to gather 'squires' to help them. These don't have (direct) access to information, but are vital to gather further information or to have a larger force. From this pool of squires you can elevate some to Knight if they perform well. Possibly squires are only taken when they show great promise to uphold the Knight code.

The cells do not directly interfere with each other. They can collaborate, share information and draw strategies, but none can command another.

They can still hold each other accountable, but that is something different. This is important. As with anything, rules can be applied in different ways to uphold the same ideals. That means different choices can be made, fully autonomously. They don't do so without fear of consequence, knowing that their actions can be judged.

One problem stems from this. To be reprimanded, they cannot be anonymous. Again, it is likely most wise that knights do know each other in the vicinity thanks to physical meets of special digital ones, but are otherwise untraceable. Second, a report us expected of the activities of the knights. This way they can act publicly against the code to uphold their cover for a greater good, but aren't directly reprimanded or acted upon unawares that they are knights.

TLDR

The knoghts will be autonomous cells of one or a few all over the world. They have their own secure communication and training. Each Knight is capable of acting differently publicly to hide their affiliation. Each Knight must still be known to cells operating in the vicinity for report, accountability and making sure the Knight's code doesn't change. They are then further anonymous. This way a leak of Knight turned bad can be held accountable and be caught, is unlikely to convince many neighbours at once, cannot kill the whole organisation and can still operate mostly free to the core ideals. Information is still shared to the network, but if required can become more anonymous the further it gets.

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  • $\begingroup$ criminal or terrorist organizations however do not maintain identical ideals, if anything they are known for the opposite. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jul 1 at 16:27
  • $\begingroup$ @John criminals generally don't have a voting system as well, nor concern themselves by being globally evenly distributed. There's plenty criminal organisations that don't work decentralised. The decentralised criminal organisation parallel is used to solves most problems, while the rest is explained in the paragraphs. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jul 1 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ I do see were you say the knights need ot act to preserve ideals, I fail to see how they can, if faction/cell A and faction/cell B disagree about the interpretation if the ideals what can they do about it. to use terrorist and criminal groups as an example they often split into factions based on extremity of action, among other things. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jul 1 at 20:36
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I think I "answered" or addressed all your main points. I was pretty happy with it, first post and all. Then I found the mistake. In the post I use higher and lower committees, much like cells as someone brought up. But I mixed it up with a more ranked structure. I should have used terms like central hub, inner or closer committee, and outer or further circle. Also circle of knights reminds me of the round table. Committee = circle in this context.

Anonymous: This may get a bit technical so please bear with me.

One could use what's called a one-time pad (OTP), described here https://www.wikiwand.com/en/One-time_pad, it is unbreakable. The only issue every needs the same code and random number generation is hard for computers. But atmospheric static has been used for that, so you can have a pc connected through deep/dark web sending info. Not a lot of hardware, near absolute secrecy. Let's call these stations for the post.

Crypto: I don't think it would work to well as a main currency because it is just too volatile, but it would give the knights a way to move money that would otherwise be tracked. As long as they set-up their of 'banks' or had traveling moneyers. If they had these stations all across the world, they could all agree that one crypto-ducat is one dollar (or whatever). A traveling knight could have thousands on a flash drive or just wire it to a station. It also works for charity because every money exchange skims some, just to make a living, and others are corrupt that will take whatever they can get away with. This way they'll always have local money for their local projects. Tech can be good or bad, it's just who's using it.

Organizational Structure: My advice to stop any one individual or group from taking control would be committees. Think the round table it the knights elected Arthur as a knight commander, or perhaps no commander at all, just the majority. Then layer over and over as the group grows. Keeping the knight motif, you could start with a small cell (If want some historical inspiration all knights worked more as a sergeant with a squad), then they grow into chapters, commanderies, orders, etc.

You can have some sort of round table at the top. Then each level sends a trusted knight to the higher level and vice versa. They report activities, threats, etc. Organization stuff. And they collect the codes. Then any issues the knight sent to the lower levels finds can be found and reported.

A good equilibrium would be to have each committee have a liaison to the lowest to the highest committees to bring messages, reports, vote if a top member died. But having them solve local/regional/etc. problems on their own with the round table giving support and punishment as needed.

You can also have senior members be able to go anywhere unrecognized with a liaison, that gives them freedom to move around. So that Luis and his team still get to do stuff.

Recruitment: You can look to history. A knight had pages, squires, and men-at-arms.

Children - They generally look up to their authority figure. Introducing them to the knight's ideas would impact them even when they aren't good. Many gangs and mafias convince good kids to do bad things. But the reverse is true, and you can get the interested ones to train as squires when they are old enough. Plus, I isn't just knight's families. Orphanages are charities, the knights do charity. Honestly, I think a lot might want to join without any indoctrination or teaching. They'll just want to be like their heroes.

Squires - Just teaching those who are ready under a knight.

Men-at-Arms - Another good place to look are veteran groups. There are plenty of veteran charities, and I mean veterans doing charity such as building things. From what I understand they miss the camaraderie of their unit, but don't want to or can't fight in battle between nations. They want to help instead. Your knights could have already done charity with them before. They have expertise and knowledge the public don't have. Plus contacts. Want some space age tech? He knows a guy. Luis can't figure out the complexities of the computer system? She was an intelligence analyst, piece of cake.

See if there interested and have them work with a knight.

Secret Societies/Order - Most of these do charity work so it would make sense for the knights to be involved to some degree. This will give your everyday, regular civilian a chance become a squire if he does something to impress him or just likes him. He/She could be anyone you need for the story.

Application: While it depends on the number of layers and stations you have, I think the basic framework could be rather simple.

Someone, let's say Jim, impresses or is assigned a knight to train him. He learns combat, first aid, the tenets. Then he is ready. They do a background check. Then they vote him in, or vote to see him and let him make his case or whatever. After, he is Sir Jim of the (whatever you named that committee) ? Maybe a junior knight to teach him the secret stuff and give experience.

You said you wanted a worldwide group and geographically evenly distributed so perhaps making him a journeyman who goes where he is need might a good idea, could include family drama or financial drama depending on the pay. (And interest of the Author).

Some Ideas: To remain both secret and fair, Sir Jim should be able to contact his liaison, not just committee, and the committee above through liaisons so he can report... indiscretions, but they remain hidden, except the liaisons. At least until he becomes a senior knight or something to that effect. Until then, he can know the other knights in his committee, past committees, or just one's he's met before.

If everyone is equal it is still a secret organization so clearance levels might be in order. Maybe junior knight is just what they call a new knight. Maybe the 'head' committee will send a mysterious black knight no one knows who's Luis himself.

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  • $\begingroup$ so centralize power in this council. except the OP does not one any centralization. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Jul 1 at 16:30
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It sounds like your describing the Knights Templar.

Supposedly started by as few as three knights signing a compact with one another, the Latin Rule.

They started out with the purpose of protecting travelers from Europe into Jerusalem. This was a vigilante action, often against bandits, and also very often against robber-barons, literally minor nobility that would send their men to inspect travelers’ goods and take all of the interesting things.

Anyone, nobleman or not, who was willing to sign on to the Latin Rule’s code of conduct could join the organization.

http://www.templiers.org/regle1-eng.php

The organization used space loaned to them by churches or royalty as their bases of operation. This shortage of their own possessions was used by the French King to round them up. However, because of their relationship with many monarchs and churches, they had broader access to technology, methods, and information than most. They had a hierarchy of Masters and Grandmasters, but it’s unclear how centralized that was.

Checklist:

  • Met - Allow anyone to join (as long as the new member is capable and willing to maintain the Knights' ideals)
  • Met - Be able to reprimand a member who is not acting ethically

** Each group, initially, only had a single rank above “brother”, the Master. The Master could reprimand.

  • Met - Be anonymous

** The order did not check identities. They actively recruited among the excommunicated, criminal, and knights dispossessed for whatever reason- all people who preferred to live under adopted identities

  • Met - Have access to tools and information not available to the public

** Because they took up rooms with monks, the church, or really anyone that would give them room, the order had better access to technology, methods, and information than most

  • Met - Allow members to share information with each other

The Knights should not be able to:

  • Met- be taken over by centralized organizations (governments, terrorist groups, etc.)

** Although a GrandMaster rank appeared later, the basic loose organization of the order remained in place until the Knights’ destruction.

  • Met - become centralized
  • Met - change their core ideals

** The Knights took on additional missions, but remained true to their core mission of providing safe passage for travelers for the entire 125 years of their existence, losing a considerable chunk of their manpower in the defense of Jerusalem from Saladin (see the Battle of Hattin)

** Some of the additional missions that the Knights took on (the invention of modern-style banking) was a natural growth from their core mission. Example: by allowing a traveler to deposit coin in exchange for a paper certificate of deposit, the traveler is now carrying anything but worthless paper for the robber-barons, or at least easily concealed. Once at his or her destination, the traveler can exchange the certificate of deposit and some proof of identity (usually letters of introduction) for their deposited treasure

  • Met be able to perform public actions against their ideals without being reprimanded

** The Knights were subject to the whims of local rulers - they followed the battle plan of the King of Jerusalem against their own military advice. They were subject to criticism from the church who housed them and comforted them

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This is not a complete answer, but something to consider.

In software development there is a term "Conway's Law":

Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization's communication structure. — Melvin E. Conway

For example:

If you have two teams who don't trust each other, but each are working on modules which need to interoperate, you will find each side will write a lot of 'guard code' inspecting each message send and rejecting it if they don't think it is valid. Or if there is a small a group from each team who meet to sort out a design together, then you will find there that the codebase will end up a with a common project with interface definitions and common types.

Likewise how is your organization going to have its structure evolve to resemble the flow of 'influence'* in the organization?

Where does the money come from? Where does it go?

Are the knights rich enough to be vigilantes and doing charitable work on their own coin or are they funded by the org?

If they are rich, then there needs something which binds them 'To the cause'. Is it secrets [Read: dirt the have on each other]. Or do they have a way of trading favors? Or can they be shunned (from vanilla business dealings) if they 'Break the code'?

If they are not independently wealthy then what form of decentralized funding (or distributing the initial cash injection) do you have?


* Influence, Money, Power at a high level are all interchangeable commodities.

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This can very well work with systems already thought of in crypto.

The hard thing is the bridge between on chain info and off chain; oracles. Once oracles translate vigilante actions into on chain data you can use a variety of smart contracts to reward, reprimande and/or level up your vigilantes.

Besides oracles you can use other mechanics like voting. One type of oracle could just be vigilantes with good rep. To reach a certain level or rank you would need the endorsement of high standing members.

To completely prevent any risk of being taken over or corrupted is near impossible, it might be interesting to think of ways to recover from such a scenario.

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