Marketplaces come and go, but sellers maintain their reputation / by Mike Hudack

Joel Monegro’s Deep Web Marketplaces is an excellent read.

I was struck by these three points:

  • A seller's brand and reputation are extremely important in a system where the intermediary (the marketplace) does not guarantee trust and safety.
  • This is largely decentralized in deep web marketplaces, as vendors make sure their brand is spread across multiple websites and forums.
  • Marketplaces come and go (or get seized by the FBI) but sellers need maintain their reputation.

I recently got a profile on Onename, which is powered by Blockstack’s blockchain identity product. I suppose this is meant to be the pan-marketplace identity and reputation system, at least in USV’s blockchain portfolio. I don’t have much use for it right now (Facebook is fine and will even store your PGP public key for you) but I can certainly see how, if I were selling drugs on a “dark” marketplace, I would want something like Onename to keep my identity safe as the Feds play whack-a-mole.

The deeper question is whether law abiding citizens who aren’t cypherpunks might want such a thing as decentralized identity maintenance. If and when they do, it won’t be because it’s “decentralized identity maintenance.” They’ll care about the blockchain about as much as they care about http, which is to say not at all.