There is a proposal to narrow the scope of the bitcoin.stackexchange.com that has received positive feedback from a large majority of users that have engaged with it.

The vote count on the meta post is currently at +11 (+13/-2), and the answers that agree with the proposal are also overwhelmingly voted positive (the top answer is +14 (+14/0)). The meta post has been up for a month, and has received more attention than most meta posts (with +11, it is currently T-18th for net vote-count, out of 391 meta posts), so I believe this level of engagement suggests that the majority of our engaged, regular users are in favour of the proposal, and thus it is worth exploring what the language of the updated scope should be, in more detail.

What text needs to be changed?

I believe the following pages will require an update:

After a quick search, it appears all other help section pages that mention 'on-topic-ness' just provide a link to the 'on-topic' page listed above, rather than repeating information about what is on- or off-topic. So (thankfully), the amount of text that needs to be changed is reasonably small. If I have missed a page with text that will need to be changed, please post it below!

This is the relevant text from https://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic, with items that will require change highlighted in bold:

The Bitcoin stack exchange is for users and enthusiasts of Bitcoin and related technologies. If you have a question about …

  • how to use or accept Bitcoins
  • the Bitcoin network or protocol
  • the open-source Bitcoin client or other Bitcoin software
  • a cryptocurrency or technology derived directly from Bitcoin such as Namecoin or Litecoin
  • distributed cryptocurrencies not derived directly from Bitcoin such as Ripple, Ethereum or NXT

and it is not about …

  • programming technique
  • investment advice
  • politics or philosophy
  • a site or software recommendation

What should the new text be?

Below is my proposal for the updated text. I have used @Pieter Wuille's suggestion of 'applicability' as a defining criteria, but have also added a point about 'relevance to Bitcoin users', because I believe this language slightly better captures situations like chain-splitting hardfork 'airdrops' (wherein the Bitcoin network itself is unaffected by such events, but Bitcoin users will find relevance in related questions).

The Bitcoin stack exchange is for Bitcoin users and enthusiasts. It is a place to ask questions about

  • how to use or accept Bitcoins
  • the Bitcoin network or protocol
  • the open-source Bitcoin client or other Bitcoin software
  • technologies or events that are applicable and relevant to the Bitcoin network and users, in the past, present, or future

and it is not about …

  • programming technique
  • investment advice
  • politics or philosophy
  • a site or software recommendation
  • any cryptocurrency or technology that is not applicable to the Bitcoin network, Bitcoin users, or Bitcoin developers

For the new off-topic question-closing option:

Questions about cryptocurrencies or projects that are not Bitcoin, and are not applicable to Bitcoin, are off-topic.

Optionally, a link to the meta thread proposing the narrowing of scope could be included, to provide context for this new off-topic closing option (this would be similar to the link included in the 'service recommendation' off-topic closing option).

Please offer your suggestions and critiques.

  • What does "Bitcoin network" and "Bitcoin users" mean? If by Bitcoin you mean the blockchain or its technology, that's a bit of a circular reasoning. I think explicitly stating it is about things relevant to the bitcoin currency is less ambiguous. – Pieter Wuille May 25 '19 at 17:07
  • @PieterWuille Hmm I meant it in a rather pragmatic sense: the specific network that is called 'Bitcoin (BTC)', and the users of that network. I understand your reasoning, and I honestly don't disagree, but I wonder if just using 'currency' gives the wrong first impression of the scope being more... financial in nature? For example, a question about the gossip protocol between peers is related to the currency, though somewhat indirectly. I'm really not too strongly opinionated on this point in particular, but I think its best to find a balance between nuanced precision, and upfront clarity. – chytrik May 25 '19 at 22:00
  • I don't think we disagree at all; I just think that "The Bitcoin network" may be misinterpreted as only referring to just the P2P protocol, and even "Bitcoin users" may be misinterpreted as people who interact with that network. As it's clearly wider than that (e.g. the Lightning network, or the protocol used between Electrum clients and servers), I think saying "technologies that support the bitcoin currency" is clearer and preciser (it clearly includes things other than just the blockchain, and it clearly does not include things that are specific to other currencies). – Pieter Wuille May 25 '19 at 22:07
  • Fair points, I think that is all quite reasonable. I was going to suggest something along the lines of "technologies or events that are applicable and relevant to the Bitcoin network and users of the Bitcoin currency...". I do also think the explicit mention of 'currency' is helpful in clarifying that questions related to specific OMNI tokens would be off-topic, which my original proposal does not address as effectively. – chytrik May 25 '19 at 22:18

There is going to be a problem with the provisions barring subjects directly related to the Bitcoin technology and framework.

In trying to unravel and organize how new sites are created, it was stated that Bitcoin would continue to support applications running on Bitcoin and the technologies derived directly from Bitcoin as a framework.

I have since closed many proposals for new sites on that basis… at the request of this site.

I understand the reasoning for removing non-Bitcoin-related technologies from your scope, but if you start needlessly splintering off these niche (but related) subjects into hundreds of sites, someone is more likely to start slashing and burning these subjects (maybe sending them back to Stack Overflow) rather than putting many thousands of hours into a massive refactoring of everyone's scope.

Blockchain subjects are a mess on Stack Exchange. I'm still hopeful that the space will eventually consolidate down to a few major technologies and the applications running on those platforms (we're already seeing some of the smaller sites closing as abandoned efforts). But if the leading technologies aren't willing to be more inclusive in their own scope, this can never happen.

I cannot see that ending well.

  • 5
    Since the time that this site was created, many thousands of cryptocurrencies have been created. Many have designed protocols that are so vastly different from Bitcoin that the only thing they share with it is the name "cryptocurrency". Yet such questions have remained on topic here even though they go unanswered and have zero applicability to Bitcoin all because they share the name "cryptocurrency". The goal of this scope change is to drop questions related to such coins because they are, for all intents and purposes, completely unrelated to Bitcoin. – Andrew Chow Jun 21 '19 at 21:11
  • 4
    Hey Robert, I was previously aware of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Monero, Iota and Stellar having their own SE sites. Now, there appear to also be EOS, Augur, and Tezos, while NEO and Beam got closed. All of these nine were started while they were considered on-topic on Bitcoin SE. It seems obvious that Bitcoin is not working as the "catch-all". Wouldn't it then be cleaner to let Bitcoin cover Bitcoin and create one cyptocurrencies/blockchain site that covers the general space? – Murch Jun 24 '19 at 18:10
  • 1
    I'm not sure I follow the reasoning that bitcoin.se being more inclusive in it's scope will promote the consolidation down to a few major techs. I would sooner argue that the opposite is true: having a focused site allows quality content to shine more brightly, and thus will be more efficient in educating newcomers. If the goal is to avoid splintering into many SE sites, I'd echo Murch's suggestion that unrelated altcoin techs with smaller user-bases should live in a catch-all site, and Bitcoin-related techs should live here. – chytrik Jun 25 '19 at 21:00
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    My personal view is that almost all cryptocurrency projects fall into two categories: (a) ones with an entirely different design and challenges, so much that they likely want their own site (already the case for e.g. Monero and Ethereum) and (b) essentially clones of Bitcoin so much that their questions are equally applicable. By restricting the scope to Bitcoin we don't lose generally applicable questions about (b), while most of (a) has already moved to other sites. – Pieter Wuille Jun 25 '19 at 22:53

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