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Bitcoin.stackexchange.com (Bitcoin.SE) appears to have been misnamed as the scope of "allowed topics" is much wider than Bitcoin. Originally, in Area51, the proposal was for only Bitcoin, but then it was suggested to enlarge the scope to include all cryptocurrencies. As a result Bitcoin.SE currently allows topics on:

  1. Cryptocurrency or technology derived directly from Bitcoin such as Namecoin or Litecoin
  2. Distributed cryptocurrencies not derived directly from Bitcoin such as Ripple, Ethereum or NXT

There have been discussions on the recap of rules related to allowed questions and changing Bitcoin.SE name so as to be more welcoming for other cryptocurrency topics. But there hasn't been a discussion to narrow the allowed topics on this website to only Bitcoin since the creation of Bitcoin.SE back in 2011. Almost 8 years back it was understandable to include topics broader than Bitcoin, as there were only a handful of other projects. Since then, the cryptocurrency world has undergone a paradigm shift in terms of the amount of deviation that they have related to Bitcoin (eg. IOTA).

I would like to open this topic up for discussion on the narrowing the topics and two options which can be considered:

  1. Narrow topic of Bitcoin.SE to only Bitcoin and create a new Cryptocurrency.SE site for altcoins not served by a specific community such as Bitcoin.SE or Ethereum.SE (more here). Once that is done, cease allowing non-Bitcoin questions on Bitcoin.SE
  2. When bitcoin is undergoing forks (like BCH), allow questions on the proposed fork until the time of the hard-fork, but then treat it as an altcoin question as time progresses.
  • What about questions on the ᴏᴍɴɪ layer ? – user2284570 Apr 23 at 14:23
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    @user2284570 I agree with AndrewChow. Omni defines a completely independent and separate protocol that has its own transactions and data formats. It's only use for the Bitcoin blockchain is to store data. – Ugam Kamat Apr 23 at 16:06
  • I'm speaking on how the layer itself interact with Bitcoin. – user2284570 Apr 23 at 18:35
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    @user2284570 questions like how Omni interacts with the Bitcoin blockchain can be considered on-topic. However, if a user wants to ask question about Safecoin that uses the omni protocol, that should be considered off-topic and should belong to cc.SE.com – Ugam Kamat Apr 24 at 9:26
  • It’s something we agree. – user2284570 Apr 24 at 12:36
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Disclaimer: I'm obviously biased due to my long-term involvement in Bitcoin.

I am in favor of narrowing the scope, and based on comments and close votes by some of the more active contributors here, I believe there is sufficient mass for this. My reasoning is that people come to the Bitcoin stackexchange for questions on Bitcoin, and (mostly) low-quality noise about other things is primarily of interest to just the question asker, and generally reduces the quality of search results for most visitors.

I don't really care about the creation of a general cryptocurrency SE site, as most active cryptocurrencies already have their own SE sites, and sufficiently generic things should probably remain on topic here anyway. A separate SE site will at least need some group of people willing to spearhead that, and I'm doubtful we'll find those among the currently active contributors of this site. In any case, I don't feel that should affect the decision to narrow the scope here.

As I've suggested before, I think the criterion should be "applicability".

To be more specific, I think questions should be about technologies that are applicable to supporting the bitcoin currency, in the past, present, or future. This includes things that are generic for multiple currencies, or developments in altcoins that Bitcoin might adopt in the future, even hypothetically.

So examples of questions that are acceptable could be:

  • How did multisig work before the introduction of P2SH?
  • Help! BTC sent to my Electrum wallet doesn't show up!
  • Why does Bitcoin use a UTXO model rather than an account model?
  • How do Lightning nodes learn the channel graph?
  • What are the challenges in bringing Monero's privacy technology to Bitcoin?
  • How do hardware wallets for cryptocurrencies deal with hardware failure?
  • How do I safely build a site doing [cool stuff] using lnd as a backend?
  • What are some recent advances in zero-knowledge proofs that could help improving privacy?
  • How do I safely access my FunCoin (FUC) after the chain split? Site X asks for my private keys.

As examples of things I think should be off-topic, at least the "How do I create my own coin (for learning purposes) doing X by changing a line of code?" and "How do I do X in the smart contract language of altcoin Y" are a regular mild annoyance to me that I think don't have much value to most visitors.

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I agree that we should narrow the scope of Bitcoin.SE. If you look through questions that are tagged as altcoins, you'll notice that many are left unanswered, and many are also fairly low quality questions.

I would suggest that we don't narrow down the topic too far. I think we could take an approach similar to what Bitcointalk.org does - to also allow questions that are about cryptocurrencies in general and not specific to one particular coin. For example, if a someone asked a question such as "what is the difference between Proof of Work and Proof of Stake", I think that should be allowed as it is a conceptual question related to cryptocurrencies in general. However questions specific to a coin like "How does coin X implement Proof of Stake" should be considered off topic.

  • It the question was about how proof of work works in Bitcoin, then sure. But proof of stake is not, and will not likely ever be, in scope for Bitcoin Core. In my opinion, only tech that relates to bitcoin should be on-topic for bitcoin.se – Max Vernon Jun 6 at 18:08
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There are stack exchanges sites such as ethereum.SE.com, which have a scope that is restricted to Ethereum. There are some other altcoins that have sites in Area 51 as well. The Bitcoin.SE.com site includes altcoins, because at first it was the only cryptocurrency SE site, and so of course it would make sense to allow altcoin questions.

Now, years later, the 'cryptocurrency space' has clearly changed, so I think it is interesting to consider how we might form these stackexchange sites today, if we started from scratch.

With that in mind, I think it would make sense to have a Bitcoin-specific site, as well as a catch-all 'Cryptocurrency.SE.com'-- and of course any other altcoin-specific site that can sustain itself, such as ethereum. So I am in favour of restricting the scope to just Bitcoin-related questions.

I do believe this would have to be done in conjunction with the creation of a cryptocurrency.SE.com site, otherwise we're going to get a few upset users that now have nowhere to post their Qs. Once a cc.SE.com site is created, it would be simple enough to migrate all altcoin questions there (and that would help a new cc.SE.com site get traffic).

Likewise, I agree with the treatment of persistent chainsplitting hardforks: allow questions insofar as they pertain to Bitcoin and Bitcoin users, but as time passes questions pertinent to the non-BTC coin should be increasingly seen as off-topic.

I think it worth mentioning that situations like hardfork splits can be messy and unclear in the moment, and I could see someone making an objection to the above paragraph based on this. But I think there is plenty of room to allow BTC-fork questions, while making altcoin Qs off-topic. As @AndrewChow said, the scope could be restricted, without being narrowed down too far. In any case, StackExchange is a more objective Q/A posting board, so if there is a noteworthy fork coming up, users should be free to come post their questions here, and receive objective technical answers. Questions of opinion are off-topic, and as such StackExchange doesn't seem to be used as a soapbox all that much anyways.


Is there anyone that would be willing to spearhead the creation of a cryptocurrency.SE.com? Who are the most active altcoin-question answerers?

Are there any other issues or considerations to be addressed?

  • While true, I think having a separate site just for the ᴏᴍɴɪ layer is a bit far fetched. – user2284570 Apr 23 at 14:24
  • @user2284570 Questions about Omni would go in the general cryptocurrencies.SE. – Andrew Chow Apr 23 at 14:50
  • @AndrewChow I think the example ᴏᴍɴɪ is really tied to Bitcoin in order to ban them. – user2284570 Apr 23 at 14:56
  • @user2284570 How is Omni tied to Bitcoin in such a way that questions about it would be appropriate for Bitcoin.SE? How would questions about Omni be applicable to Bitcoin users? Omni defines a completely independent and separate protocol that has its own transactions and data formats. It's only use for the Bitcoin blockchain is to store data. A quick look at the questions tagged as Omni indicates that most questions are about using the Omni protocol itself and using it effectively as an independent platform. As such, it should be considered off topic. – Andrew Chow Apr 23 at 15:06
  • @AndrewChow yes, but I think questions which discuss things like this since they are about the links between ᴏᴍɴɪ and the Bitcoin ledger. – user2284570 Apr 23 at 16:11
  • Hmm I think OMNI layer questions could be considered on topic, since they are tied to bitcoin at the basic level. Same for sidechains, or lightning network (both of which are arguably ‘more related’ to bitcoin, but I think Omni is still more related to btc than an actual altcoin). – chytrik Apr 23 at 17:47
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    @chytrik questions like how Omni interacts with the Bitcoin blockchain can be considered on-topic. However, if a user wants to ask question about Safecoin that uses the omni protocol, that should be considered off-topic and should belong to cc.SE.com – Ugam Kamat Apr 24 at 9:23
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Since then, the cryptocurrency world has undergone a paradigm shift in terms of the amount of deviation that they have related to Bitcoin (eg. IOTA).

Yes, but there are many cryptocurrencies for which this situation still stands, let alone coins like ᴏᴍɴɪ which use the Bitcoin’s ledger. For some of them the situation is nearer than with Bitcoin through hard fork (if we compare to Litecoin at original creation time). All of those coins use Bitcoin’s software or at least Bitcoin Scripting system where some questions share knowledge with Bitcoin so can be answered by peoples who only know Bitcoin.

Restricting the scope to such coins makes sense (so rejecting things like Ethereum or Ripple). For comparison, Super User is supposed to be restricted to ᴘᴄ. But in practice, anything which behaves like a ᴘᴄ at software level is allowed (this is how Raspberry pi question are allowed).

I especially think that when the scope of the site was enlarged, questions about litecoin were in mind. Let’s keep them on topic! So my point is :

  • Cryptocurrency or technology derived directly from Bitcoin such as Namecoin or Litecoin (keep those questions on topic)
  • Distributed cryptocurrencies not derived directly from Bitcoin such as Ripple, Ethereum or NXT (make them off‑topic)

So I disagree on

When bitcoin is undergoing forks (like BCH), allow questions on the proposed fork until the time of the hard-fork, but then treat it as an altcoin question as time progresses.

Because in that way, they would remains always on topic as long as they share code with Bitcoin core.

  • 1) There are no hard forks of Bitcoin. Bcash and co are chain split altcoins. 2) I have no clue what Omni is (since I tend to ignore scams) but from what I gather here it's like asking questions like "How do I format a table in MS Word?" on the networking stackexchange because MS Word happens to use networking functionality somewhere. In other words: totally off topic. If Omni uses OP_RETURN then questions about OP_RETURN might be on topic. – Jannes Apr 26 at 17:21
  • @Jannes this is something we agree on. The reason of current design largely apply to things like litecoin at the time it was chosen. My answer is rather restrict the scope but let s keep questions not about bitcoin asked at the time of the scope was enlarged on topic. – user2284570 Apr 26 at 21:06
  • Oh, you mean keep (not delete) existing questions+answers but don't allow new ones anymore? Hadn't thought about that yet tbh: what to do with already existing "offtopic" questions. – Jannes Apr 26 at 23:41
  • @Jannes no, as I said, I think the initial choice to broaden the cope of this site was made in consideration of Cryptocurrency or technology derived directly from Bitcoin such as Namecoin or Litecoin but not Distributed cryptocurrencies not derived directly from Bitcoin such as Ripple, Ethereum or NXT which appeared later/after. I think it should remain possible to ask questions about software internals of the first case without having even to refer to bitcoin the sae way it’s possible to ask Raspberry pi quesstion on Super User without referring to Linux. – user2284570 Apr 27 at 9:13
  • But this site is not and shouldn't be just about the Bitcoin Core codebase and related topics. Sure, Litecoin's reference implementation may share parts of the code with Bitcoin's, but the same is not true about the rest of its ecosystem. I don't mind generic questions that apply to several/many cryptocurrencies as I stated in my answer, but I feel that Litecoin-specific questions would be mostly uninteresting to the site's audience, and be unlikely to get good answers. – Pieter Wuille Apr 27 at 17:42
  • @PieterWuille this is called a disagreement. I think this policy would allow to stay in line with the original choice of enlarging the scope of this site. – user2284570 Apr 27 at 21:02
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    @user2284570 You're of course free to disagree with me on what the site's scope should be. I'm only pointing out that being "Bitcoin derived" isn't a very relevant criterion. – Pieter Wuille May 2 at 7:56

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