The Bitcoin Whitepaper Controversy

The owner of, Cobra bitcoin, is now at the center of a controversy after he stated his desires to make amendments to Bitcoin’s whitepaper as it is outdated and does not do a good job of enabling people to understand bitcoin. As expected, it wasn’t well received by the bitcoin community.

Why Bitcoin Whitepaper Needs To Be Updated?

According to an old thread created by Cobra Bitcoin,the people reading the bitcoin whitepaper are probably reading for the first time and are using it as a learning resource but since it is outdated, it doesn’t do a good job of giving people a good understanding of bitcoin. Also, the whitepaper doesn’t mention anything about pools and the sections for privacy and SPV should probably be updated. The meaning of the node in whitepaper is a machine mining blocks whereas the current meaning is completely different.

He went on further to explain how the whitepaper is now being used by others to spread toxicity in the community and how various academics are regularly citing the whitepaper and basing some of the reasoning on the outdated parts of the whitepaper.

He also claimed that other communities solve this problem by regularly updating their learning resources and producing new versions of their documents. So, it should be perfectly fine if bitcoin’s whitepaper is updated as well with new material.

Community Response

As expected, the suggestion wasn’t well received by the community. Several people including Luke Dash Jr. suggested that it is perfectly fine if he would like to write a new paper on bitcoin citing the old whitepaper but changing the whitepaper which is cited in other people’s academic research would be wrong. While it is fairly certain that bitcoin’s whitepaper is outdated, it is still a document of historical importance and should be left untouched. Also since it is clearly cited in many academic research papers as the original bitcoin whitepaper, any changes to it will make it not original.

Other people have suggested that instead of changing the whitepaper, a group of pages along with the new terminology can be added to the whitepaper explaining the changes that have happened over time. It was also suggested that the learning section on can be kept up to date which can be used in the academic papers if people need to cite a better resource in their papers.


While it seems reasonable that Bitcoin’s whitepaper should not be used alone to explain bitcoin to someone, it won’t be in the best interest of anyone to change something of such historical importance.

Let us know how you feel about this bitcoin whitepaper controversy in the comments below.


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Shivam Chawla

Following CryptoCurrencies since 2013. If you like my articles, follow me at

2 thoughts on “The Bitcoin Whitepaper Controversy

  • November 11, 2017 at 9:04 am

    Don’t touch the bitcoin white paper. Effectively, it is a reference like any scientific paper. Make a “Version 2” if necessary and make clear the parts you modify.

  • February 7, 2018 at 6:20 am

    @brezil, that is a mindful and well thought position and I concur. Amendment or articles 1,2. etc., would do well as changes and upgrades to technology happen and should be mentioned. However like brezil mentioned it would do harm and discredit the origin of the white paper.


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