The open-source, peer-to-peer marketplace software OpenBazaar officially went live yesterday, marking a major milestone for the long-in-development project.
Powered by the use of bitcoin as a payments method, OpenBazaar is intended to serve as a decentralized alternative to marketplaces like eBay, in which a central entity acts as a money clearing house as well as an arbiter for behavior.
OpenBazaar, by contrast, uses the distributed bitcoin blockchain to handle payments, and users can act as judges to resolve disputes or hire their own mediators.
Yet within hours of launch, what appear to be listings for drug-related products have already begun to appear.
Two vendors have advertised marijuana purchases (with one now inactive at press time), while another that previously sold cannabis seeds has also gone offline. OpenBazaar listing tracking tool BazaarBay.org still lists some of the now-removed offerings.
The big question is: Are they the real deal?
Brian Hoffman, project lead for OB1, the development startup that oversees work on the OpenBazaar protocol, told CoinDesk that his team is aware of the listings, and that the listings boil down to two sources: legitimate vendors taking a risk in an attempt to sell their wares via OpenBazaar, and trolls simply looking to stir up trouble.
“We continue to plan to create ways for users to better control the [user] experience on the network, but unfortunately the good comes with the bad and there will most likely always be those who choose to participate in ways that disrupt or ruin the experience for others. We will continue to find more ways to mitigate those challenges.”
The project has long drawn comparisons to the Silk Road, the now-defunct dark market, and OpenBazaar’s potential to serve as a distributed version that has no central point of failure.
While the OpenBazaar team has stressed in the past that they are agnostic about the offers made through the open-source protocol, these listings will no doubt continue to fuel that comparison.
This article has been updated.
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