Was posted on reddit today:
Hi, Reddit. We are seeking people who have previously used Silk Road to purchase drugs to participate in our study of online drug access. Here’s a good article explaining what we are about
We’re from the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University in Australia. Here’s our plain language statement describing the research, but if you’re looking for a tl;dr, here’s our point: There is an assumption that people will use more drugs or come to more harm if drugs are more available. We think the situation that Silk Road users may have found themselves in, where many drugs are more available, provides an interesting experiment. What happens to people’s drug use in this situation? How does online drug access affect this equation?
We’re conducting anonymous online interviews through encrypted IM and are inviting people who used Silk Road, v1.0, to purchase drugs and are over 18 to participate. We will not be recording your identity at any point during the IM interview, so your answers will remain anonymous and confidential.
Who are the researchers? We are Dr Monica Barratt and Dr Alexia Maddox from the National Drug Research Institute, Curtin University. Monica studies illicit drug practices within internet-saturated societies, and has academic interests in new drug trends, online drug marketplaces, and drug policy reform. Alexia’s research includes understanding the globally distributed nature of online communities and illicit trading. We both work from Melbourne, Australia.
Community context We contacted DPR on SilkRoad (v1.0) and got his approval to launch the study there… only a day or two before it was shut down. As the Silk Road marketplace (v1.0) has recently been disabled, this provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon what has happened for users who seek to purchase drugs online and how they have adapted or dealt with the changing environment. We understand that the transitory nature of online drug marketplaces is secondary to their existence as a technical possibility and we would like to explore participant responses to this situation as a part of the study.
We offer an opportunity for you to reflect upon the benefits (as well as the risks) of online drug purchase and your part in the community that Silk Road fostered. Through this research, we aim to better understand how drug practices change in an environment of high drug availability. We may also develop further arguments for drug law reforms that support reduced drug-related harm.
We would like to clarify that this research is internally funded by Curtin University. What this means is that we don’t need to answer to an external funder. Because of this, we are confident that we are able to direct whether the research is published, when it’s published and what we publish about.
If you would like to participate, please contact Alexia.
Thank you for taking the time to read our introduction. Alexia will be checking back on this thread regularly to respond to any questions or comments you may have about the research or the interview. Please spread the word.
Monica and Alexia
Sounds like a good cause for those of you who might be interested in helping.
Find more on the original reddit discussion: