Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on reddit
Share on email

Silk Road users wanted for research project

Silk Road may be gone and Silk Road v.2 yet to prove itself, but the site has become culturally significant enough to attract the attention of some serious academic researchers. And unlike the plethora of tabloid news pieces, their starting position is not always that the online black market is a den of evil inhabited by junkies and thieves with no redeeming features whatsoever.

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 1.34.40 pm

The National Drug and Research Institute is a Curtin University-backed research body committed to minimising the harm associated with drug use. The NDRI is calling for Silk Road users to participate in research and interviews about their experiences using the site.

Despite assurances of anonymity and the researchers’ ethical obligations to maintain privacy of participants, it can be difficult to find people willing to discuss their drug use. Many Silk Road users are (sometimes justifiably) paranoid about discussing their illegal activities.  The NDRI has taken the extraordinary step of providing a means for willing participants to be interviewed over encrypted chat. There is no need to provide any identifying information.

The institute has no hidden agenda; harm minimisation is its only goal and sites like Silk Road raise unique questions for researchers.  “There’s an assumption that people will use more drugs or come to more harm if drugs are more available,” says Research Fellow Dr Monica Barratt.  “We think it’s more complex than this, and think the situation that Silk Road users can find themselves in, where many drugs are more available, provides an interesting experiment. What happens to people’s drug use in this situation?”

If you are reading this and you are a current or previous user of one of the online black markets, I urge you to assist the NDRI. It will certainly be more beneficial than trying to justify yourself to a tabloid journalist. These are the good guys.

Another interesting study resulting in the paper “Responsible Vendors, Intelligent Consumers: Silk Road, the online revolution in drug trading,” was carried out by School of Health Sciences, Waterford Institute of Technology in conjunction with the Irish Needle Exchange Forum.

Further information about the NDRI’s Silk Road Project can  be found at


3 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to my mailing list

… and receive an exclusive, FREE copy of a true crime story in ebook format.
You can unsubscribe anytime.

You may also like...

Games Pirates Play

Servers in North Korea, America (fuck yeah!) and literally in the clouds, buying their own country and winning an eBay bid to buy… well eBay. The Pirate Bay guys had some good times. Last month I attended a Q&A session with the cofounder of The Pirate Bay (and User No.7), Tobias Andersson. He was one hell of a speaker and

Read More »

The Fall of Atlantis – a Moderator tells

“Atlantis admins shut down the site and ran away with the coins. It’s the truth.” – Cicero, Moderator of Atlantis Marketplace forum A little under six months ago – not long after they opened shop – I conducted the first in-depth interview with online drug barons Loera and Vladimir, founders of Atlantis Marketplace.  The two were excited at the prospect

Read More »

Did Dread Pirate Roberts get scammed on an alleged hit?

According to FBI documents, Dread Pirate Roberts claims to have carried out one hit and was haggling on price for another. But was he the victim of an elaborate hoax? According to the FBI’s Criminal Complaint, Silk Road’s owner, the Dread Pirate Roberts, sought to engage a hitman to deal with a blackmailer who was threatening to expose names and

Read More »

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.