So you want to create the next bitcoin. Wonderful! But before you crack code, you’ll need to revisit English 101, because the blockchain community demands a white paper with every project.
What’s a white paper? It’s a document that describes your project. How do you make one? Here’s a handy guide of best practices from the cryptosphere.
By law, all white papers must be in PDF format. Why? Because PDFs are insecure, can crash your browser, can be edited and redistributed, and are frustrating to create and maintain. In cryptocurrency, your willingness to suffer signals your project commitment.
Couldn’t you put the same content on your website? Doesn’t your website already have the important points? Weren’t websites invented to replace PDFs? Valid questions, but with iframe technology, you can embed your PDF into your website. Next question!
A good reference point for your white paper’s length comes from bitcoin’s founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. His whitepaper spanned eight pages. But wait, that was back in 2008, before page-inflation. Since then, the average white paper has swelled to 100 pages, a 1,250 percent improvement.
Readers love long white papers, too. With eight pages, they’ll feel obligated to scrutinize every word. That’s drudgery, like stomping up a mountain one rock at a time. 100-pages gives your readers the freedom to skim, like gliding up a mountain in a zipcar.
Like many cryptocurrency creators, English may not be your first language, second language, or any language (Zdravstvuy if you’re reading this through Google Translate!). And even if it is, you may not be a great writer. Don’t sweat it, you have two options:
The first is to hire a new breed of freelancer: the white paper author. They know the basics of the blockchain, can string words together, and come in at $5 an hour. They probably won’t understand the nuances of your project, but most readers don’t understand blockchain white papers anyway.
The more common option is to bootstrap and do it yourself. Tech is about substance, not style, and if the details are accurate, who cares if your white paper is hard to read? In fact, being hard to read is a competitive edge: The less someone understands about your project, the more likely they are to think it’s futuristic, alien-tech.
Is a white paper supposed to resemble an academic research paper, with hard science, citations, and peer-review? Or is it supposed to resemble one of those thick business plans that went out of favor a decade ago?
The answer is that a white paper is the best of both worlds: easy-to-read, like an academic research paper, and rigorously vetted, like an early 2000’s startup business plan.
Filling 100 pages about your project will be a challenge, for sure, but with the pointers below you can knock them out in an afternoon.
- Cover the history of the blockchain. Yes, your readers know this, but they’ll appreciate the recap. You can copy-paste the basics from other white papers.
- If your project is blockchain + cars, cover the history of the automotive industry.
- Shift from history to the near future. How will your token disrupt Martian transportation?
- Copy and paste every section of your website into the white paper.
- Include full-page diagrams, preferably with interconnected rectangles. Full-page photos can be effective too.
- Math equations!
- Invent your own words (e.g, EngineChain, CarBlock) and then define them rigorously, in an Inception-like white paper-within-a-white paper. Add more diagrams.
- Pad your team page. The more advisers, the better. Bonus points for retirees with PhDs. Your advisers need not know about your project. If they’re famous, like an Eric Schmidt or a Michael Phelps, who’ll call them up to verify? And if your project takes off, you can court them then.
- Add a “risks” section to show that you’re responsible, but don’t go overboard, you don’t want to scare your investors away.
Congratulations! Your first draft is complete.
As they say, writing is rewriting. Review your draft and apply George Orwell’s famous six rules for writing:
- Never use a short word when a long one will do
- If it is possible to add a word, add a word
- Never use the active where you can use the passive
- Never use an everyday word when you can use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word.
- Never use a verb when you can use “revolutionize,” “decentralize,” or “disrupt” instead
- Break any of these rules sooner than miss your ICO presale goal
That wasn’t so bad, right? If you feel gross, take heart: Your white paper is every bit as good as that other one that raised $50 million.