The Silk Road Effect

@Flamingo - Feb 11 2021

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The Silk Road (February, 2011 - October, 2013) was a landmark of the Darknet Markets scene. From its charismatic and charitable administrator (who originally bore the simple standard of "SilkRoad" before adopting his more well-known moniker of the Dread Pirate Roberts) to its tight-knit community of camaraderie, friendship and shared values that inhabited its connected forum, the shadow of the original SR still lives on behind many people, but its legacy has been tainted and misused numerous times by the unethical and unscrupulous. While many Silk Road legacy purists call for a ban across the modern Darknet community against the constant use of Silk Road's name to create scam markets and knockoffs (see: SR3, SR3.1, SR4, SRInfinity, The Silk Road Market, Silk Street, etc), these markets still prosper, or they do for at least a short while before inevitably disappearing.

So what is it that makes the Silk Road such an attractive target for market plagiarists? There are numerous reasons.

First, the Silk Road bears the aura of "the father of all modern DNMs". While it may not be the first online drug market (that honour goes to the Farmer's Market, which was seized in Operation Adam Bomb after law enforcement agencies traced the site's Western Union and PayPal transactions right ot the owner just a few short years before SR went live), it was the first to combine the three anonymizing features of Tor Browser, Bitcoin for payment, and PGP for encryption and verification, setting the foundations for the modern DNM system.

Secondly, there was the force behind Silk Road. The well-spoken, educated Dread Pirate Roberts, which a passion for debating libertarian principles and his position as the founder of the DPR Book Club on the SR forums was an enchanting individual, as testified by his fanbase of adoring Silk Road traversers. This was a man who envisioned the buying and selling of mind-altering substances not as a simple junkie's one-stop shop, but as a movement against a corrupt and persecutory empire. There was something about him that drew people to his aid, a magnetism probably helped by his habit of throwing lavish giveaways and contests.

Thirdly, and possibly most important, is just what the Silk Road stood for even after its fall and the fall of its progeny, Silk Road 2.0. Ross "DPR" Ulbricht had managed to evade every law enforcement agency for two years and become a millionaire by founding the world's most-notorious DNM, a feat that the get-rich-quick kids and criminally-minded entrepreneurs try (and often fail) to do every single day. The Silk Road ended up the perfect embodiment of well-made, popular, fondly-remembered even a decade after, and profitable that every lazy wannabe with a cheap VPS wishes to emulate, and there'll always be a flood of people either unaware that the original, legitimate Silk Road is no more, or who desperately long to recapture the sense of wonder they felt in the old days and hope that maybe, just maybe, this Silk Road truly will meet their expectations.



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