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Berning M, Hardon A. 
“Educated Guesses and Other Ways to Address the Pharmacological Uncertainty of Designer Drugs: An Exploratory Study of Experimentation Through an Online Drug Forum”. 
Contemporary Drug Problems. 2016 Jul.
Abstract This study examines how experimentation with designer drugs is mediated by the Internet. We selected a popular drug forum that presents reports on self-experimentation with little or even completely unexplored designer drugs to examine: (1) how participants report their ‘‘trying out’’ of new compounds and (2) how participants reduce the pharmacological uncertainty associated with using these substances. Our methods included passive observation online, engaging more actively with the online community using an avatar, and off-line interviews with key interlocutors to validate our online findings. This article reflects on how forum participants experiment with designer drugs, their trust in suppliers and the testimonials of others, the use of ethno-scientific techniques that involve numerical weighing, ‘‘allergy dosing,’’ and the use of standardized trip reports.We suggest that these techniques contribute to a sense of control in the face of the possible toxicity of unknown or little-known designer drugs. The online reporting of effects allows users to experience not only the thrill of a new kind of high but also connection with others in the self-experimenting drug community.

Keywords ethnography, harm reduction, drugs and the Internet, experimentation, uncertainty, edgework
Notes # : Erroneously refers to Erowid as a popular drug forum in one of the author bios. (Erowid visitors do not have the ability to post content to Erowid directly. All Erowid content goes through vetting prior to being published.)
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