The darknet can be a bright place.

Along with the fact that you won't get a steak knife to the throat if a deal goes wrong, a researcher in Spain tells us that the psychedelics and empathogens you can buy off the darknet are fire, especially compared to the steaming piles of stomped-on meth slung by certain pushers in your neighborhood. "Purity in these markets is higher than in street markets," Mireia Ventura tells us in an email. She's a Spanish researcher, and her 2015 study lays out how pure darknet shit is (Cinderella pure). Hers was buttressed by a larger report this summer written by some influential European narcs which said that cryptomarket cocaine, for instance, was 70 percent pure, compared with 38 percent pure on British streets. Mireia told us that it's so rare to get truly bunk shit off the darknet that it merits a research paper when it happens.

For an explanation of why darknet shit is better than street shit, look no further than your next vacation, to the website AirBnB.

Ten years ago, anyone thinking about spending the night in the home of a stranger was assumed to want knives in their eyes. Like, when the website CouchSurfing came online in 2004, a precursor to AirBnB, your mom would assume you were going to get murdered, especially if she watched a lot of the fear segments on the 10 o'clock news. You could tell her that, no mom, most people aren't murderers. But she'd nag you for being reckless, then guzzle a bottle of merlot and speed her high-centered SUV down curved highways.

And, yet, CouchSurfing thrived, and now AirBnB is thriving even more. And why? Because of the reputation system. When your AirBnB stay ends, you go online and rate the host, and the host rates the guest. (I don't have to explain this to you. You aren't 90 years old.) These reviews pile up, and they allow other people to gather a fairly reliable story about you as a dependable, trustworthy non-rapist. It's the same way user reviews on RottenTomatoes, Yelp, and eBay help us make good decisions about movies, restaurants and lightly used dildoes.

Well, the same thing happens on darknet sites. Reputation systems are totally in place. After the transaction, dopeheads rate slingers, and pushers rate fiends. So you can know that the 2C-B you bought off Apple Market is gonna let you glimpse the glistening underboob of a the benevolent she-goddess who runs this dimension and not make you fall out. And you know it for the same reason you trust the studio apartment in the Castro to have 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets: because some other internet rando gave it a shot before you did.

The best darknet sites, writes the Economist, "look a lot like the best sellers on legitimate marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay."

That makes darknet shit quality shit, and shysterism rare.

"Scams and abuse still exist, but it appears that they are carried out by a minority of vendors," Ventura told us. Her team recently found that some darknet h was being cut with shit. In real life this isn't so unusual; that dogfood is the molecular equivalent of a chainsaw without an off switch. But Ventura copped some diesel that was being cut with some rare poison called ocfentanil, cousin of the serial-murdering fentanyl and carfentanil. Her paper brought the ocfentanil to light, and the peddler got booted from the market. "Therefore, reputation systems may also have a protective role in contributing to remove vendors who sell dangerous batches of drugs or those who sell something other than what they advertise," Ventura said.

What's the lesson? Love, trust and respect, even for strangers. We aren't saying that you should grab an AirBnB on the south side of Chicago owned by a recent parolee and light up some darknet alkaloids that make you hallucinate a neon Buddha rim-jobbing a fractal Elvis — but if you choose to do so, you'll be safer than you might think. Online reputation systems are allowing us to more safely bunk with each other and get each other twisted, and, in the big picture, cobble slivers of trust into giant mosaics of fraternity — all while being profoundly, profoundly stoned.

[Image: Mapping which items tend to be sold by the same vendors on the darknet. Image from Wikimedia Commons.]