7

The focus on Bitcoin has kept participation from other cryptocurrencies to a minimum. When the site first launched, the decision made a lot of sense: most of the "alt" currencies were simple forks of Bitcoin. But since then, new currencies have become a testbed for innovation and many solve entirely different problems. We should either focus excursively on Bitcoin and sidechains or revise the FAQ and change the name to include other currencies.

This is not fueled by a motivation to marginalize Bitcoin. The second major cryptocurrency, Namecoin, was started because Satoshi didn't believe in piling every proof-of-work system onto a single blockchain. Academic research is first tested in new currencies, such as Zerocoin, because it is easier to experiment with a new currency.

However, we are now seeing the first wave of currencies with radically different designs, such as Ethereum. BitShares innovated on the very definition of value. Even the Tor developers are working on using a cryptocurrcy to improve network throughput. New currencies are more than just an "alternative" to Bitcoin, they offer new solutions and solve different problems*.

Being "officially" neutral and allowing questions about other currencies isn't enough. Users searching for answers on Google won't know what the official policy is and experts in other cryptos are turned off by the name. Since we can't get any traction here, Namecoin (which is specially cited in the FAQ) is considering switching to Vanilla forums so that we can offer a Q/A system. Even discussions regarding different types of PoW or specific applications (like decentralized markets) are seemingly off-topic for a "Bitcoin" SE site.

The Bitcoin name and URL only makes sense if you are primarily interested in Bitcoin. This is incredibly self-limiting in a future filled with cryptocurrencies that solve different problems. C is still the language of choice for many applications, yet we've seen many successful new languages over the past forty years. If the original StackExchange had restrained itself to a specific technology, it never would have had such an amazing impact on the programming community. If we want this SE site to become a vital resource for the cryptocurrency field, then we need to truly embrace other cryptocurrencies. I think we should update the name and URL (perhaps Cryptocurrency and cryptos.stackexchange.com or just cryptocurrency.stackexchange.com) and update the FAQ.

We are still in Beta, but time is running out. We need to either widen our audience to embrace other currencies or narrow it and restrict discussion to Bitcoin and sidechains. Officially allowing questions related to other currencies while discriminating against them prevents future SE sites from building their own communities.

Update addressing posted answers:

Arguments about the popularity of Bitcoin don't make sense in the long run. The situation is a bit different, but it's not far off from claiming that StackExchange should have been called JavaExchange. Even Satoshi thought that piling every PoW system on Bitcoin was a bad idea, and Ethereum, BitShares, and others are proof that Bitcoin isn't going to be the only cryptocurrency that matters.

The argument that other currencies aren't trying hard enough is like claiming that the name "JavaExchange" wouldn't have alienated users of other programming languages. Arguments that we just need to make tweaks are like claiming that JavaExchange wouldn't be dominated by Java questions if they just tweaked a few things, like the FAQ.

This really comes down to usability which (no offense intended) is something that I think most technically minded people have a hard time groking. People don't read the FAQ or the intro! The Bitcoin name effectively makes this a site about Bitcoin.

What do we gain from keeping the Bitcoin.SE name? What would we lose by switching to Cryptocurrency.SE?

Switching to Cryptocurrency.SE would reduce bias in search results, user perception, and the community. Cryptocurrency.SE will still turn up in searches for Bitcoin, but users won't mistake it for a Bitcoin only site.

  • The question would be where to define the borders. If you see this bitcoinSE as a synonym for all satoshi-based crypto tokens, that would already enable hundreds of altcoins here .. most of them will find the questions to their answers already posted somewhere here. But what about completely different tokens, such as NXT, Etherem, BitShares, CryptoNote. IMHO they all deserve to have a Q&A platform and they are also based on ECC and the blockchain tech.. So why not have them in here too?! Just my 2cents – xeroc Apr 21 '15 at 6:33
  • @xeroc What does blockchain technology actually mean? – Nick ODell Apr 21 '15 at 22:05
  • @nick-odell the blockchain tech is a technology to achieve a decentralized and consistent database in an untrusted environment. You can see it as a way to replicate a database over the internet such that every participant has the exact same copy of the database and does not need to trust anything else than just the protocol/software. No human (3rd-party) involved in the trust process. – xeroc Apr 23 '15 at 6:10
  • @xeroc To pick some edge cases, would Bittorrent or Ripple fall under that umbrella? – Nick ODell Apr 23 '15 at 6:14
  • @Nick-odell Bittorrent definitely not. As for ripple, the consensus algorithm seems to not built ontop of a blockchain (ripple.com/consensus-whitepaper) .. They have a distributed ledger and could store the transaction history (bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/8112/…) .. disclaimer: I am not really into ripple. – xeroc Apr 23 '15 at 9:39
  • The key breakthrough with blockchain technology is the ability to trusted perform transactions between untrusted parties. This is similar to how public key cryptography allowed trusted communications over untrusted channels. – Indolering Apr 23 '15 at 14:56
  • And arguments over how to classify a technology are pretty trivial, it's not like StackExchange has suffered because the definition of a programming language is fuzzy. – Indolering Apr 23 '15 at 19:24
  • I'd like to suggest the title be changed to "Should Bitcoin.SE be renamed to "cryptocurrencies.SE?", which would much better encapsulate the main point of this discussion. – Murch Apr 23 '15 at 21:55
4

I've been thinking about this for a couple of days. I don't entirely disagree with Murch, but there are a couple of points I'd like to address.

Why don't we have more [altcoin] questions?

  1. Critical mass. All of the [altcoin] users are over on [altcoin]talk, so they're more likely to get an answer. Of course, they're also more likely to get inane rambling. :)

  2. A perception that they're not welcome. It's not true, but I can definitely see why a new user might not see it that way.

    1. The site name.
    2. The front page. Most of the front page items are about Bitcoin.
    3. Altcoins are treated with a mixture of hostility and derision in the cryptocurrency community. This is less true on StackExchange, but there are still some incidents.

      A few days ago, a new user posted a question about an altcoin, and another user came in and commented that it was a scam. That might or might not have been true, but it was irrelevant. So, I removed the comment.

      If you see derails like this, don't engage. Flag it for moderators to deal with.

How can I, an ordinary user, encourage more [altcoin] posts?

Create content about [altcoin]

  1. Write questions about [altcoin], and optionally write answers.
  2. Find other [altcoin] communities on the net.
  3. Post links to your questions.
  4. (Optional) Laugh maniacally and collect badges as you steal their users.

I do this a bunch with r/Bitcoin: http://www.reddit.com/domain/bitcoin.stackexchange.com/

Promote [altcoin] to other users of Bitcoin.SE

In chat, please :)

You mentioned that Murch not understanding BitShares as being part of the problem. But why should Murch know about BitShares? Is it technically interesting? Will it solve one of his problems? If one of these two things is true about [altcoin], then you should tell other users on the site about it. If more people learn about it, more people will know enough about it to answer questions about it.

Personally, I'm interested in the Storj project. So, if you want me to spend time learning about your altcoin of choice instead of Storj, you need to convince me that it's more interesting or useful.


from Indolering

Officially allowing questions related to other currencies while discriminating against them prevents future SE sites from building their own communities.

Not... really. The thing preventing them from starting their own SE sites is the fact that they have even smaller userbases than Bitcoin.

from Indolering

I think that this SE site should be about all cryptocurrencies,

Well, it is. Are questions about other crypto-currencies on-topic?

from Murch

Also, I would assume that the people informing themselves about Namecoin/Zerocoin/etc. are already much more engaged with crypto-currencies, in turn causing a much smaller number of (basic) questions to come up. There are a lot of redundant and basic questions concerned with Bitcoin here, which just don't translate to coins with a more expert following.

Personally, I would prefer those more expert questions. So, that may not be the direction that this SE is going right now, but it's a direction that I'd like to see it move in.

from Indolering

I think we should update the name and URL (perhaps Cryptocurrency and cryptos.stackexchange.com)

Yuck. Way too similar to crypto.stackexchange.com

and update the FAQ.

Absolutely.

  • 2
    I'm not saying that Murch should learn more about BitShares, I'm pointing out that admins who are mostly interested in Bitcoin wouldn't care as much about a bias against other currencies. Both of you have essentially argued that fixing the fine print is good enough. However, changing the name to Cryptocurrency.SE would remove a major source of this systematic bias while still serving the Bitcoin community. – Indolering Apr 23 '15 at 19:19
  • I also updated the question to address some of your points. – Indolering Apr 23 '15 at 19:25
  • 2
    @Indolering: I agree that the name change would reduce the systematic bias. I remain unconvinced that this necessarily translates to a net positive effect on the site as it may also reduce Bitcoin traffic, which currently should present the main source of traffic. Also, the term cryptocurrency might be less attractive to new users than Bitcoin, as 'crypto' sounds inherently difficult. On the other hand, this might not be a bad thing if we want to revitalize a more expert community. – Murch Apr 25 '15 at 10:33
1

While I would like more questions about other crypto-currencies to find their way here, I don't think your premise is fair. The alternative crypto-currencies with the biggest following are those which you previously derided as "pump-n-dump sideshows" such as et al. Naturally, due to their similarity with Bitcoin a lot of their questions overlap with questions about Bitcoin, yet still is the twelfth biggest tag on Bitcoin.SE. by the way, is the third biggest currency-tag, after and ranked 61 among all tags with 72 questions.

The other topics that you would like to see more questions on, such as , , and are all even less prevalent. Zerocoin is a truly academic experiment, Ethereum hasn't been properly released yet, and honestly, I don't even exactly know what Bitshares is.

I'm not sure whether the number of questions we are seeing about the cited topics are not just representative of the much smaller communities and business interest they have: On Reddit (in lack of a better gauge of community size) Bitcoin has 163k users, Dogecoin 90k, Litecoin 25.6k, Namecoin has 2.4k, Zerocoin has 1.4k, and Bitshares has 846.
There are a number of secondary Bitcoin subreddits of note: /r/BitcoinMarkets has almost 20k, /r/Jobs4Bitcoin has 8k reddit users, even /r/GirlsGoneBitcoin has 6.8k. Bitcoin is just magnitudes bigger than most other crypto-currencies.

Also, I would assume that the people informing themselves about Namecoin/Zerocoin/etc. are already much more engaged with crypto-currencies, in turn causing a much smaller number of (basic) questions to come up. There are a lot of redundant and basic questions concerned with Bitcoin here, which just don't translate to coins with a more expert following.

I have the feeling, that we are comparing watermelons and currants here.


"Since we can't get any traction here, Namecoin (which is specially cited in the FAQ) is considering switching to Vanilla forums so that we can offer a Q/A system."

Are you sure that it isn't for lack of trying?
You decry Namecoin not being visible enough here, but have only answered one single question tagged with here. Further, when I opened What can we do to better support questions about other cryptocurrencies? in direct response to your last post, you didn't even bother to respond.

If you want Namecoin to be a bigger topic here, perhaps you should actually invest some effort. E.g. send people to ask their questions here, and provide the answer here. You can easily get notified about questions tagged with by subscribing to the tag.
As a Namecoin developer you are ideally suited to seed this SE with frequent, important, and good questions about Namecoin, by posting and answering them both.
Stackexchange is highly visible on Google, and if you want more people to flock here for Namecoin, having more Namecoin content here will do the trick. Additionally, you can post Namecoin questions here back to other communities in order to get people to answer them.


As to renaming this SE. – It started out as Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency, and was changed to just Bitcoin last minute before the private beta. The renaming has been proposed several times since, but so far there has not been sufficient interest in it for SE-staff to take notice. To be honest, I'd like Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies, but I don't think dropping Bitcoin from the name completely would make sense. It is by far the dominant topic, and therefore it makes sense to have it represent this SE.

I have created the topic Updating and Improving our Tour/About site to discuss specific changes to the tour. Please provide feedback to the posted suggestions.

If you have specific ideas for changes in the FAQ, please create a similar post aimed at the FAQ.

  • I think that this SE site should be about all cryptocurrencies, you wouldn't make the argument that the original SE should have been named after Java just because it tops the TIOBE index or the based on the activity different mailing lists. I think that your non-understanding of BitShares is an example of the implicit bias driving the current policy. The dominance of Bitcoin only makes sense if you are primarily interested in Bitcoin. – Indolering Apr 21 '15 at 17:13
  • That is a poor comparison, because Java is one of several similarly prevalent programming languages, while Bitcoin is a dominant market leader. Try a few googlefights on that, the difference in number of hits is on the range of factor 30-200. Besides, we have tags and questions about dozens of other cryptocurrencies, which makes your comment here just a reiteration of your OP. – Murch Apr 22 '15 at 8:06
  • For the moment this is true but it won't be so crazy dominant in the long run. What technology has ever kept up near total dominance in the long run? You might be able to name a few, but from web browsers to web servers to operating systems and databases, total dominance in a field is the exception. BitShares and Ethereum are proof that there is a future for other currencies. – Indolering Apr 23 '15 at 18:53
  • I also updated the question to address some of your points. – Indolering Apr 23 '15 at 19:25
  • @Indolering: Counting systems, Languages, Money, Governments, Writing systems, Telephone network, Telefax, audio casettes, Compact Discs, E-Mail, Facebook, generally everything that strongly benefits from network effects? Especially communication and data transfer technology. It is my perception that Cryptocurrencies are much more like the aforementioned than any of the examples you made. Web browsers are application layer, more comparable to wallet software than cryptos. I'm a Linux user myself, but Windows has a 90% market share, followed by 6% Macs. – Murch Apr 23 '15 at 21:42
  • Databases have to serve a specific user pattern, and perhaps at some point need to be transfered to a succeeding system. They are not reliant on being interchangeable to all other systems. Almost 60% of websites are served from Apache servers. – Ethereum and BitShares might technically work, but have next to nil market penetration. In what way are they "proof that there is future for other currencies"? I do not find your argument convincing. There will be other uses for blockchain technology, but the network effect will cause each niche to have a small number of competitors in the long run. – Murch Apr 23 '15 at 21:47
-2

It's like Intelligent Design demanding a "fair share of time" in Biology classes next to Evolution. WTF?

Respect needs to be earned. Extraordinary claims need extraordinary proofs.

If developers wish to not work together with the Bitcoin community in building a better system but think they are smarter than them and can do better, then by all means they can try. But simply making a claim and a tweaked fork does not deserve any respect or automatic help from the SE community in getting it pumped. Especially after all the evidence of 99% turning out to be scams or just detractors of capital and effort (best case) there's no need to waste any time on them before they actually have something to show for.

I'm completely against any altcoin noise in this SE. They can create their own.

  • I'd compare it to Emacs vs. vi. Two very similar systems, solving two similar problems. Yet, each has a few frothy-mouthed supporters that insist that their system is the One True Way, and any other way is Blasphemy. I'd prefer that questions about each system be able to peacefully coexist on the site, without proving that they deserve respect. They can create their own. They can't. StackExchange policy prohibits making a more specific version of an already-existing site. The one exception to this is AskUbuntu, which was grandfathered in. – Nick ODell Jul 14 '15 at 20:08
  • That's too easy. Emacs and vi are not blatant forks of each with literally no improvement. Second a blockchain needs security to be useful. Fragmentation of intellect and effort and money can be bad, but fragmentation of blockchain security is just ridiculous. – Jannes Jul 15 '15 at 12:17

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