C4SS Feed 44 presents Gregory Boyle’s “Consumer Protection in a Free Society” from the Students for a Stateless Society‘s Volume 1, Issue 1 of THE NEW LEVELLER read by Stephen Ledger and edited by Nick Ford.
The distributed reputation system of the black market site Silk Road functioned as a brilliant and effective alternative to licensing. Because almost all of the products sold on Silk Road were illegal, consumers couldn’t simply take legal action against dishonest vendors, and because products were paid for with bitcoins, chargebacks could only be issued if vendors agreed to them.
Given the total lack of legal recourse available to consumers, one might have thought that the site would quickly devolve into a mass of scams and fraud, yet it maintained a customer satisfaction rate of over 97% until it was shut down in 2013. Justice was administered by the sites users simply by refusing to do business with dishonest vendors. Many users only bought from vendors with flawless reputations, which provided vendors with an incentive to maintain such a reputation. Many of them went above and beyond to gain the loyalty of customers, offering full refunds at their own expense if they found that their product had not reached their customer.
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