Tor allows people to run location hidden services. These are services who run on Tor-clients (running as a bridge or server is not required) who allow people to conenct to them through servers in the Tor-network.
The location of the services are location hidden in a way which makes it extremely hard to figure out where in the world they are actually located. This means that they can be run anonymously. How secure they really are is still a subject of debate, and many groups are doing research on this subject. It is pretty safe to assume that it is very very hard to locate a location hidden Tor-service, even thoughthere are research papers who debate how it could, in theory, be done given control of enough Tor-servers, time and resources.
The state of the .onion
The location hidden services have addresses who look very much like normal domains, except that they are random text strings (actually a hash of the services private key) who end with the special Tor-domain .onion. You must connect tusing a Tor-client to be able to access these sites. So what kind of .onion sites are there, as of today? What kind of sites do those who want to hide who runs the sites and where in the world they make available?
Pornography seems to be a very popular subject on the .onion, just
like it is on the normal Internet.
The various forums are also quite popular. Like The Onionforum. People go there and talk about all kinds of things, mostly normal things like politics and the various other subjects who are popular on the normal Internet. There are also some post on subjects who I assume nobody would dare talk about without being anonymous, but this is actually less frequently the case. Most people go there and talk about the same things they talk about in other forums, except that they happen to be anonymous when using this service and happen to not be able to find out who is running the forum.
There’s also http://xiwayy2kn32bo3ko.onion/tor/, a forum where people write using small drawings who look like houses, squares, circles and other odd things. There are rumors that people in Asia understand these drawings.
Documents, books, etc
Alex Jones of Infowars.com and PrisonPlanet.com has “read the federal documents, and know their TOTAL PLAN”. He is a pretty popular guy because of it, and is even mentioned is various posts the core.onion because of is knowledge of such documents. Many interesting documents are available on various onion sites. The Tor Library has a quite a few. Bebop’s Home in Onionspace has a great collection of cyberpunk (and other) documents. You may also want to read Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and The Federalist papers, which were originally published anonymously. There are also Tor mirrors of sites on the normal Internet, such as textfiles.com. A interesting document leaked out of the German police is also worth reading. Orwell’s 1984, and other books, are available at a text files at http://2evy5quvwdyiyuqr.onion/mirrors/
Blogs, like this one, are read by many people. There are, naturally, many onion blogs too. Like http://balrqba4x57ofa6s.onion/, which is mostly about Tor-related software. Monster warns that the Ice-Age is Coming.
Some people do not like WTO, which is understandable since they are powertripping tyrants who want dictatorial control over you and your family. A mirror of quite a few WTO protest videos exist within in onion-land.
Chat and talk about how your day was
People like to talk about their day anonymously. There are many onoin IRC servers. There’s even a web based chat.
The masked operating system can (only?) be downloaded using Tor. There are also various attack and defend tools available. If you find yourself under computer attack by commie nazi then perhaps you should go there and find out what they are using to attack you and how to defend yourself. http://gdos2zurqy7miigj.onion/pub/ allows you to download GnuPG and other nice things.
Sites such as sTORage and the Anonymous Upload Center allow people to upload and download files. All sorts of things are available that those kind of services. All they have in common is that the content serviced as files…
There are also some pirated consolegames for the MAME arcade machine emulator floating around. I guess it is a good idea to hide who you are when you are making hundres of pirated MAME ROMS available to the general public – even though there are actually quite a few sites offering the same games on the regular Internet.
You can use Torgle to search.
Gone with the wind…
It appears that many of the previously popular .onion sites are now gone with the wind. Which is understandable, it is hard to maximise profits now by running these services: How do you get anyone to pay you when the visitors of you site are all Tor-users who are unwilling to tell you who or where they are?
nnqtnsoohprzqcke.onion was a popular .onion-only search-engine based on the datapark motor. It’s now gone with the wind, just like many other onion sites.
Interesting? not really..
Some onions are just plain uninteresting. Like http://metaq3ayddzzcfzc.onion/, which only tells you that “It works!”. That’s probably great, but it’s really not that interesting.
The http://anegvjpd77xuxo45.onion/services/ services list periodically checks onion-sites it knows about and lists which are up and which are down. Many people like to add their sites to core.onion, since that is listed in the Tor-page on the heavily-censored NATO (=nazi) propaganda vessle “Wikipedia”. There are “HiddenServices” pages here, here and here. The Torgle search engine is also a nice starting point, just type in what you are looking for and it will (mostly) find something about that.
Have fun in onion-land! And remember, think before posting in forums and such. What you say can be used to identify who you are, or where you are, what your interests are and so on regardless of the connection being anonymous or not. If you post your phone number then everybody knows who you are, regardless of how you post it…