[tor-dev] A proposal to change hidden service terminology

A. Johnson aaron.m.johnson at nrl.navy.mil
Tue Feb 10 18:13:26 UTC 2015

Hello all,

Several of us [0] working on hidden services have been talking about adopting better terminology. Some of the problems with current terms are
	1. '''Hidden''' and '''Dark''' have a negative connotations.
	2. '''Hidden-service website''' is too long; '''hidden site''' is too vague.
	3. '''.onion''' (read "dot onion") is hard to say and not very descriptive.
	4. There is no general term for the set of available hidden services.
	5. The term '''encrypted service''' is too general. This term refers to a setup (still needing development) in which Tor is required to connect to a service, but the service location is not hidden. Even without server anonymity, this setup can provide enforced client anonymity, secure name resolution, censorship circumvention, and end-to-end-encryption. Making the server location known can allow for improved performance (by shorter circuits) and security (by enabling location-aware path selection by the client).

We’ve come up with the following suggestions for better terms, which we’d like to offer up for discussion:
	1. '''onion service''' should be preferred to refer to what is now called a "hidden service". If other flavors of onion services develop in the future, this term could refer to all of them, with more specific terms being used when it is necessary to make the distinction.
	2. '''onionsite''' should be preferred to refer to a website (i.e. an HTTP service serving up HTML) available as an onion service. This can be extended to other specific types of services, such as '''onion chatroom''', '''onion storage''', '''onion cloud service''', etc.
	3. '''onion address''' should be preferred to refer specifically to the xyz.onion address itself.
	4. '''onionspace''' should be used to refer to the set of available onion services. For example, you can say “my site is in onionspace” instead of “my site is in the Dark Web”.
	5. '''onion namespace''' should be used to refer to the set of onion addresses currently available or used "recently" (context-dependent).

We couldn’t decide on the best names for alternative onion service setups, because they don’t exist yet! But, we have some ideas about how these things might be named:
	1. Some names for a setup in which the onion service location is known but still must be connected to via the Tor protocol:
		* '''Tor-required service''', '''TRS''' for short
		* '''Direct onion service''', '''direct service''' for short
	2. Some names to specify that the onion service is hidden, if that becomes necessary:
		* '''Protected onion service''', '''protected service''' for short
		* '''Tor-protected service''', '''TPS''' for short
	3. Some names to specify that a client connects to an onion service non-anonymously:
		* '''Client-direct access'''
		* '''tor2web mode'''

We’re maintaining an evolving wikipage with the above suggestions [1]. Some of us are already beginning to use the suggested terminology, to see how it works out. One nice goal might be for Tor to choose the new terms that it likes (if any) and use them in the rollout of next-gen onion services [2]. So we’re bringing up this subject now to a larger segment of the Tor community. Thoughts?


[0] Including David Goulet, Rob Jansen, George Kadianakis, Karsten Loesing, and Paul Syverson
[1] https://trac.torproject.org/projects/tor/wiki/org/sponsors/SponsorR/Terminology
[2] https://gitweb.torproject.org/torspec.git/tree/proposals/224-rend-spec-ng.txt

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