With Floodlight, Kate Ray wants to make a secret site to match women who have been sexually harassed

“If a third-party could hold reports in escrow until a small group forms, the risk for each of them is decreased.”

Floodlights in McCarren Park. (Photo by Tyler Woods)

The idea came from the Shitty Media Men list, Kate Ray explained.

She’s now working on a project that would allow women to secretly report men who have sexually harassed them at work, where if the same man is named by two or more women, the women are introduced to each other.

The idea is that the barrier and stigma to being the first one to speak up is high, but it’s lower if you know there are other women and you can come out together.

“A game-theoretic case for such a system based on two factors: a) most harassers have multiple targets, and b) for any one of them, being the first to come forward carries the highest risk and retaliation,” Ray wrote. “If a third-party could hold reports in escrow until a small group forms, the risk for each of them is decreased.”

So far, it’s still mostly an idea. Ray is looking for collaborators on figuring out the details and building out the project, which she’s named Floodlight. Her post on it is called “Open-sourcing a design process: Floodlight, a sexual harassment report tool.”

Ray is a Greenpoint-based programmer who worked most recently for Experiment. We wrote about her last project, bookshelf.website, where users can make mixtapes of books they like, in July. Last year, she created Where Is Williamsburg?, a delightfully clever app that allows you to find and vote on which neighborhood is the Williamsburg of every city.

One of the main engineering problems Ray is trying to work through is how to keep the site free of trolls who might abuse it to the point where it becomes useless. She wrote that she’s working on making the site work in such a way not that it weeds out the trolls, but that it’s a boring for them, a seemingly clever approach.

“I find it useful to think of trolls as cats — keeping them out just makes them fixated on getting in, so it’s often better to assume they’ll get in, but make the intrusion unsatisfying,” she wrote.

We reached out to Ray for comment and will update if and when we hear back. In the meantime, she’s looking for help on the project.

“If you’re comfortable speaking to me about your own reporting or non-reporting of harassment, I would love to chat. I’m also looking for ideas, organizations to reach out to, and collaborators.”

Series: Brooklyn

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