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

Paul Syverson paul.syverson at nrl.navy.mil
Wed Feb 11 19:42:49 UTC 2015

On Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 01:36:35PM -0500, A. Johnson wrote:
> >>> I have heard someone (forget who) propose that 'Dark Web' be 
> >>> dropped in favour of CipherSpace which could include all of these 
> >>> privacy perserving protocols, leaving terms like "OnionSpace" for 
> >>> Tor, "I2PSpace/EEPSpace" for I2P etc.
> >> 
> >> I am certainly in favor of this kind of collaborative approach. It's
> >> hard enough already trying to make this stuff understandable to end
> >> users (usability and UX of the tools themselves aside), without having
> >> multiple kinda-similar-but-not tools trying to do so in different
> >> ways. A "united concept front" would benefit tools _and_ users.
> There was a recent discussion among some Tor people where the
> “Private Web” was recommended as a good general replacement for the
> “Dark Web”. Perhaps the “Private Net” could also replace the “Dark
> Net” if you don’t want to limit yourself to the Web. “CipherSpace”
> didn’t come up as an option, but I have to say that I don’t really
> care for it. It sounds overly technical and also collides with the
> use of “cipherspace” used in cryptography to denote the set of
> messages that constitute valid ciphertext. That’s just my opinion,
> though!

As I said in my previous response to str4d "Dark Web" is not just a
term, but an attempt to refer to a (pseudo)concept that should die. I
have searched some and not been able to trace the origins of the term,
but it smacks of punditry.  It is generally used as a singular term
but to connote whatever mishmash of various classes of technical
designs, online commercial and cultural groups, political agendas,
etc. the speaker intends at the moment. I have not seen a reasonable
single definition that makes sense for the things that people throw
under its extension. The original definitions of 'darknet' and 'deep
web', which I have traced, do not apply well. Unfortunately, many
reasonable and intelligent people have now collectively bought into
the misapprehension that "Dark Web" actually refers to a class of
systems and think that the problem is the name rather than the concept

The appropriate response to the term is not to give it a better one
but to always immediately say that it is something made up by pundits
to pretend they are referring to a specific part of the Internet but
that does not actually correspond to reality. Then try to respond to
your best, most generous guess of what your interlocuter might have
been trying to say, making such clarifications as needed. We should not
accept its use for the sake of whatever the current point is. We do a
disservice to the technologies and their users if we do.


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