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Lineage Guide

Welcome to the IPOM Pick Lineage Guide, part of our Trading Guide. Pick Lineage is a system we came up with to help the community keep fake picks out of the ecosystem. It isn't perfect, but we think it will help.

The Problem

In the last 2 years high quality fake picks have flooded the market. It used to be trivial to tell fake picks from real ones, but now the fake ones are as good if not better than the originals.

For example, probably the rarest pick is the I met James Hetfield and all I got wuz this stupid pick! pick. James was notoriously careful with them - all shipments went straight to him and they didn't get put with other picks... so most of the crew doesn't even own those picks. He handed them out in M&Gs and wanted them to be only available that way. For someone to have one was incredibly rare, for someone to have one to trade was even more rare. Then in 2017 suddenly several people had them available for trade. We went digging. It turns out that a guy in Mexico had sold 5 in early April, 3 more in late April, 2 more in May and another one in June. One person having 11 of this picks isn't possible. The only two people who had access to those picks were Zach (who ordered them) and James, and they were meticulously guarded.

I got my hands on one of those picks and it looked perfect. I gave one to a friend who works for the band who has one of the originals and even he had a hard time telling the difference. The ink was slightly more silver on the fakes, but other than that it was a perfect replica.

Recently this happened with ESP 30th anniversary picks from late 2005. There's two kinds. A guy in France sold 55 of the one type (5 picks, 5 picks, 5 picks, 5 picks, 10 picks, 5 picks, 5 picks, 10 picks, and 10 picks) and 30 of the second type (5 picks, 5 picks, 5 picks, 5 picks, 5 picks, and 5 picks).

Suddenly everyone had several "rare" picks and they wanted to make trades. I reached out to the guy and asked where he got the picks. He said he was in New York 10 years ago and he wandered into a record store that was just selling them so he bought the whole lot. He wouldn't tell me more. Is that possible? Sure, but it's not likely. These may be real or may not be. The "I met James..." picks are certainly fake.

So the point is, there's a lot of fake and potentially fake picks on the market and we need additional ways to start protecting ourselves and each other.


Real picks have generally only changed hands a few times. Traders don't often trade picks they don't need or want. In our experience real picks rarely change hands more than 2-3 times. So if we could keep track of where each pick came from we could go a long way to solving the problem.

To do this, we need (A) a way to describe a pick's lineage and (B) a way for each person to state what they define as a "good enough" lineage.

If we think of every pick's lineage, the further it is from the person who originally caught it, the less likely the story is real and the less likely the pick is real. Each trader will have a different threshold for risk they're willing to take, and that's fine. We don't need to all have the same one, but ideally we'd have the same way to measure and communicate it. As such, we introduce two new terms:

Example 1: if you have a pick your friend caught and gave to you, it's 2 degrees of separation. That means there are two associations; the first is "friend" and second is "caught at concert."

Example 2: if you got a pick from a trusted community member, who got it from a friend who caught it at the show, it's 3 degrees of separation and the associations are "trusted community member", "friend", "caught at concert."

Example 3: if you got a pick from from a trusted community member who got it from another trusted community member who got from eBay, then that's 4 degrees of separation and the associations are "trusted community member", "trusted community member", "ebay", "unknown".

Once you have this common language, limits are easy to express. it's (A) maximum degrees of separation and (B) approved associations.

For example, you could say your limit is 2 degrees of separation and only "friends" and "trusted community members". Or your limit is 4 degrees of separation and any association other than "eBay".

If one or two of us do this, it doesn't help much, most people won't be tracking the lineage of their picks. But if we all do this, then it will become very, very difficult for someone to get fake picks into our community.

In addition, we've set up a list of "trusted community members." We've started with the moderators of the Metallica Picks Trading Worldwide group. Any member who gets 2 "successful #tradereport"s with existing trusted members becomes a trusted member. There is a publicly-viewable Google Spreadsheet that lists all trusted members and which two members vouched for them. The list should grow pretty fast making it easy for new members to become trusted.

Finally, if we do this, we get one other benefit. It becomes a lot easier to track variations and misprints. Is a pick that's slightly off a fake, a misprint, or variation? If we know it didn't come from eBay, we know who caught it, and we've only ever seen one, it's probably a misprint. If we see a bunch, it's probably a variation. If it came from ebay, and there's only one, it's probably a fake.

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