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Guide: How to Dissect a Whitepaper

A whitepaper, an informational document used to both explain and promote a technical project, is essential for any cryptocurrency project trying to get off the ground and gain legitimacy. Ever since Satoshi Nakamoto published Bitcoin’s whitepaper in October 2008, these documents have been used to explain why a particular cryptocurrency is being introduced, the problems it aims to solve, and how it differs from its competitors. Dissecting a whitepaper can be difficult as they often contain jargon and buzzwords that are hard to understand.

They’re not unique to cryptocurrency and are used to explain many other kinds of projects, but whitepapers have become an industry standard by this point.  This guide looks at how to read one and understand if a project offers a real-world solution or just a lot of fluff.

 

Common parts of a whitepaper

The following section contains parts that are commonly found when dissecting a whitepaper. Not every whitepaper will include each part and information may be categorized in a different way.

Abstract

This is a summary of the project that appears at the beginning of a whitepaper. It outlines the goals of the project and attempts to draw the reader in to read the rest of the document.

Introduction

This part of the whitepaper attempts to quickly cover basic concepts, like what a blockchain is, while simultaneously introducing the solution that the cryptocurrency project is aiming to solve.

Context/problem definition

This is where a development team starts to lay out the case for introducing their unique cryptocurrency solution. The market the project is targeting, the challenges that need to be solved, and critiques of current solutions might be included here. 

Solution/product description

With the context of a problem laid out and the inefficiencies of current solutions addressed, the development team pivots to detailing their solution and what it brings to the table. This section also includes the platform that the project will be released on, exactly what the project does, and how it’s better than any other solution.

The tech

The nitty-gritty of the tech that powers a project is addressed here. A section like this might include a description of what’s being used to build the solution, like developer tools and programming language.

The token and its tokenomics

This is arguably the most important part of any whitepaper for potential investors. A token’s role in a project’s ecosystem and how it will be managed are usually covered in a section like this. It could also include the benefits of holding the token and more details on its planned use cases.

The team

The people behind any project are one of the most important things to consider before investing in any crypto. Thankfully, good whitepapers will include a dedicated section to introducing the project’s team. This could include information like previous work experience, years in the industry, and individual roles within the team.

How to buy a token

Whitepapers also function as a kind of marketing document for a new cryptocurrency project, so it’s possible they will include a section on how to buy the token. Launch dates, exchanges, and wallet addresses for transparency could be included here.

Project roadmap

The roadmap is where a team will lay out their future vision for the project. A roadmap will most likely include general milestones, like a certain number of holders or getting listed on centralised exchanges, and a general timeframe in which the team is aiming to have the milestone completed.

Conclusion

This section is self-explanatory. Here the project and the problem it’s trying to solve are summarized and any call-to-action is reiterated.

 

While reading a whitepaper

While dissecting a whitepaper, no matter the project, it’s good to be armed with a few questions to gauge the legitimacy of that project. Four of the most important questions to ask are:

  1. What is this project trying to do?
  2. How is this project going to do that?
  3. Does this project need to be built on a blockchain?
  4. Does the project have an experienced team with a track record of delivering?

While these are certainly not all of the questions that can be asked when reading a whitepaper, they’re a good starting point for anyone who is new to cryptocurrency, whitepapers, or investing in general.

 

After reading a whitepaper

It’s important to remember that a whitepaper presents the team’s perspective of what their project is trying to do and the benefits it will bring. They can double as marketing documents for the projects and their teams – documents that will try to sell readers on why their project is the best. That perspective is sure to contain some bias, so before making any kind of sizeable investment into a coin or token, more research is key. Reading articles (on Medium, for example) written by people not involved with the project and checking outside sources are two ways to check any claims made in a whitepaper.

In the end, enough research should be done to feel comfortable with a project and to be able to explain why a project is worth investing in. Knowing how to dissect a whitepaper is one way to get started when researching a project. This can help an investor feel confident in an investment decision, even when FUD and downward price action strike. 

 

Disclaimer: THIS IS NOT FINANCIAL OR INVESTMENT ADVICE. Only you are responsible for any capital-related decisions you make, and only you are accountable for the results.

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