There are varying definitions of "the dark web" or "the deep web" but I believe the most recognized answer is any content on the internet that cannot be accessed by searching on google, or typing an address in your search bar. By going that definition, what would be considered "dark web?"
Well, the list goes on forever. There is an ever expanding number of unpopular, or unimplemented protocols and standards for accessing content on the web.
Most people would simply tell you that The Onion Router (TOR) is the entirety of the dark web. Of course that's not true, but TOR does occupy a large portion of the hidden web. TOR is an anonymizer, or anonymous proxy that implements something called "onion routing." Onion routing proxies your request through a circuit of multiple nodes in the network, creating a layered route. Hence the name (onions have layers).
Using the TOR protocol also enables access to "hidden services" which are domains with the unofficial
.onion TLD. This is where the whole "deep web" thing comes from, since you can only access these sites while using TOR. They also don't appear in search results.
If you plan on using TOR, beware. It is FILLED with scams. Do not trust anything that seems too good to be true.
But as I stated before, the list goes on forever. Lokinet is another onion routing anonymizer with hidden services that uses the Oxen network, making it a peer-to-peer (p2p) network (considered to be better than TOR).
Yggdrasil is a end to end encrypted, decentralized IPv6 network that allows you to communicate with any other Yggdrasil node (even if your internet provider doesn't support IPv6!)
I2P is another anonymizer that functions as a p2p network, letting you securely communicate with other nodes by carrying your traffic through random people's nodes and carrying THEIR traffic through yours. This makes it impossible to tell who is making a request, since everyone's requests are going through different people's nodes.
Zeronet serves webpages located with Bitcoin addresses, and uses Bittorrent to store and serve content.
Some people could even consider IPFS (The Interplanetary Filesystem) to be deep web, since files can only be accessed if you know the file's Content Identifier (CID.)
What I had originally wanted to talk about in this post, is Gopher and Gemini.
Gopher is an OLD ass communication protocol from 1991 that people still use to this day. It is entirely text-based, and acted as an alternative to the World Wide Web. It has a limited number of content types and a easy-as-hell markup syntax. This makes it really fast, and appealing to NERDS.
Since gopher cannot be accessed over HTTP, (they are rival protocols,) it is labeled as dark web. Can't even search for it either. The same goes for the Gemini protocol.
Gemini is ANOTHER communication protocol created in 2019, that was meant to be heavier than gopher but still lighter than HTTP.
It uses gemtext, a markdown-like syntax for
text/gemini pages. And yes, you read that right. Gemini offers a single
meta header in responses, which it uses for MIME types. This gives it an upper hand over Gopher by being able to serve ANY content type.
I can't really remember what the main idea of this post was. I think I was going to try to get you, the reader, to adopt the usage of both gopher and gemini. I need to get better at writing.