Why I Volunteer for a Charity that Keeps Criminals Safe? (Guest Post)
By ‘Wit’, Global Moderator at ‘The Hub’ – a hidden online charity for drug addicts, dealers and dark market operators.
Hub Forum Url: http://thehub7dnl5nmcz5.onion
Everyone respects volunteer work, right? Whether it’s serving up soup at the local homeless shelter or selling trinkets to old ladies in charity shops, I think we can all agree: Charity workers are pretty damn special and there should be more of them in the world. But what happens when a charity falls outside the more conventional scope of feeding the children and saving the wildlife?
OK, so what if I told you I volunteer for a charity that actually aims to enhance the experience of buying and selling drugs and make it safer? You could almost say that the charity I volunteer with is an independent regulatory body for the various online drug-pedalling bazars (such as the notorious Silk Road, or, the ‘Hidden Amazon of Illegal Drugs’) that are hidden within The Onion Router.
If you already use the Deep Web to buy or sell drugs, you’ll already know that there’s always drama here and quiet days are rare. But for those of you wondering:
“What exactly is it like to help run a website full of criminals?”
Well, I’ll do my best to tell you.
What I Deal With Daily
Funnily enough, moderating a forum full of crack-hungry drug addicts and cash-hungry dealers (sorry guys, I have to exaggerate for the media – they love that sorta stuff!), is a bit like… well, it’s a bit like moderating a forum full of normal, very decent people who’s only difference between ‘normal’ folk is that they choose to bypass the law regarding what they can and cannot put into their own body!
Because The Hub does attract individuals who may, at times, have a head full of chemicals… and because the law doesn’t exactly exist down here (it’s so dark!), we do get some pretty interesting things happening.
I mean, up there where you are on the ‘clearnet’ (that’s that place on the internet you can get to from Google) ‘meth-induced rants’ aren’t exactly common. Down here though is a different story… you might have somebody who is one day putting together a rational, well-structured counter-argument, but who the next has become a gibbering, quivering mess, relentlessly spewing sentences that just spill out and dribble over pages and pages without even a thought as to how left out that line break might be feeling. In fact, just thinking about it makes me want to start a new paragraph.
See, for the most part, the forums ‘down here’ are just like the forums ‘up there’. It’s just that we tend to be a bit more open minded. Of course, in a place where anonymity is vital to the community’s existence, signing up doesn’t exactly require double email-verification and a text message sent to your phone, which means it’s pretty easy to create a fresh identity on-demand… which brings me onto probably one of the most difficult issues of moderating a forum full of names with no faces.
Trolls And Troublemakers
Just two weeks after The Hub opened, we began receiving threats. They were pretty weak, and we still don’t know exactly why they were being made… but whoever was making them stated that unless we took drastic action, they would ‘ruin’ our forums. When asked to state their demands, we discovered that one of the many equally ridiculous demands was that I change my name to FuckWit for a week. Yep, that’s the kind of petty trouble we have to deal with down here – hardly the gun crime you see in a real-world drug community, but I did still have to see my psychiatrist and cry for a while.
Anyway, this user went on to follow through with his threats of ruining our forum, and created 50 throwaway accounts within a week (because it’s just so easy!) and started flooding conversations with shit. Wet sloppy shit at that. Turns out all the fuss they made accidentally led to an additional $500 in donations from our community. Go figure. Anyway, we’ve all kissed and made up now.
Of course, trolls and troublemakers are just one of the more colorful parts of the job. My role as a volunteer at The Hub also involves more mundane tasks like moving posts, investigating allegations of ‘scam markets’, making sure nobody trades on our forums (we don’t allow that!), keeping disgusting topics like child porn out, and slapping wrists when people try to advertise products that are designed to hurt others (like guns). Oh, and I also wash the site owner’s underwear sometimes – my idea, not his. In fact he doesn’t even know.
How Long All This Takes Me
How much time do I put into The Hub? Not all of my time, obviously. In fact, despite what many media outlets will tell you, the majority of people in our community are not jobless bottom feeders, and I’m no exception. I’d be giving the game away telling you what I did for a living of course, but I do work, and it’s a very legal, very reputable job.
What the Fuck is ‘The Hub’?
The Hub was set up and funded by a well-respected member of the hidden online ‘drug community’, Alfred. It is designed as a virtual ‘home’ that helps keep the online drug-trading community together in between instances of markets going rogue and getting busted by international law enforcement. And though at first you might think a charity that supports drug dealers and addicts is quite dumb, it’s easy to realize that it’s actually pretty smart. Here’s why:
1. Regardless of the law, people who want to take drugs will take drugs
2. Regardless of the law, people who want to supply drugs will supply drugs
Hell, it’s nearly 100 years since the United States started more seriously regulating recreational narcotics, and it hasn’t stopped people using them, has it?
So instead of shunning, criminalising and judging those who’ve decided to ‘fuck the law’ and make a decision about what substances they put into their own body, surely it makes the most sense to help them do it as safely and with as little risk as possible?
The Hub is a place for users, dealers and even owners of underground drug marketplaces to meet, chat and support one another. And although there is strictly no trade allowed on the forum (we actually want to keep things as legal as possible), we facilitate things like:
– Independent Market Reviews so people are more aware whether or not markets are just scam organisations out to steal their money
– Vendor & Drug Purity Reviews so people are more aware of which vendors they can trust to supply safe, honest substances
– Drug Safety Awareness and Harm Reduction Discussions so people are more aware of how to make their life choices more safely and more responsibly
Surely helping a community of drug users stay safe instead of forcing them onto the streets where they’re constantly at risk of violence or unclean, dangerous products, is a good thing, right? I volunteer here because it’s a charity I’m proud of. It might not be conventional, but until you’ve seen it for yourself (and yes, you’re invited!) I ask for you not to judge me – you might love it just like me.
Are You Passionate About Harm Reduction and Drug Safety Awareness?
If so, call us on 1800-THE-HUB… I’m joking of course. But please, get in touch. We’re looking for medical professionals and people involved in drug awareness initiatives to come and join in our community. The Hub has gone from a membership of 0 – 4,000 in just a few weeks and is still growing fast.
Anybody can access our forum using the Tor network – just download the Tor Browser Bundle and enter the following address into the browser bar: thehub7dnl5nmcz5.onion
Once you’ve registered, shoot a message to either myself, Alfred or any of the other charity workers running the site. We’ll welcome you warmly and give you a tour.