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When drug dealers get all warm and fuzzy

Some Silk Road drug dealers are promising to donate a percentage of this week’s sales to charity

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Black markets are supposed to be dangerous places. Drug dealers are bad guys. Drug users are selfish hedonists who would steal from their Grandma for a fix.

Except when they’re not.

I’ve always been struck by how civil and intelligent the majority of contributors to the Silk Road forums are. For a place that prides itself on libertarianism and free speech, it remains remarkably troll-free much of the time. And some of the most popular threads are the particularly warm and fuzzy ones. Two that spring to mind are DoctorX’s personalised medical advice thread; and the Spare Coins thread, where members transfer Bitcoin to those who find themselves short for an order, with a ‘pay it forward’ vibe.

This week, Silk Road vendor FiberOptic stated that he/she feels like “it’s time to pass on a bit of the good fortune to others”.  FiberOptic has promised to donate 30% of this week’s sales to charity.  Half will be donated to Erowid, a drugs harm reduction organisation and the other half to Seans Outpost, a charity that helps the homeless.

FiberOptic urged others to do likewise. So far two other vendors have offered to donate a percentage of profits to charities of their choice, yet to be determined.

There is some concern about whether the charities in question will be happy to accept donations that are squarely proceeds of crime. But donations will be irreversible Bitcoin transactions, so they can no more be traced or returned to the donors than a bag of cash left anonymously in the letterbox.

The amounts could be quite substantial, especially if more vendors come on board – one seller has stated they will donate “between 5% and 20% of one weeks gross earnings, should be roughly around 10k”.

Of course, some have derided it as a publicity stunt, but if worthy charities benefit, then who cares? It will be interesting to see how many vendors actually come through with the coin.

 

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