White paper 

Whitepapers have been around for nearly a century since Blockchain Technology and Cryptocurrencies have been in their swing. More recently associated with digital coin offerings, whitepapers have been around quite frequently and now no digital coin or blockchain Project appears without one.

This document commonly known as the whitepaper is the team’s proposal that includes the problem, the solution (the project) some technical details about the blockchains or other types of DLT, architecture, and the deployment plan.

In other words,

A white paper is a marketing document used to persuade potential customers to learn more or use the service or technology. It contains a problem, the solution, how the token works to create the solution, the team, and the deployment plan. 

White papers are more familiar in today’s digital prospect as the vision of a project or company and investors are urged to study them thoroughly.

The term Whitepaper originated in the British and Canadian governments. the whitepaper was historically a policy document made available to the general public. They became prominent in business marketing in the 1990s and are now a common tool to make a business case or convince an investor to buy in.

The same principles apply to digital coin offerings and other blockchain projects. In this context, the whitepaper is a document that incorporates the vision and goal of the digital coin, token, or blockchain, and its supporting technology. It also usually includes a pitch to encourage investment and outlines the potential return to investors.

The First whitepaper released in the crypto space is Satoshi Nakamoto’s document on Bitcoin. This document set a standard in the industry and was followed by almost all projects.

Yellow Paper

Another document, that is rarer to see, is called a “Yellow Paper”. Yellow paper usually represents research that has not yet been formally accepted; it describes the research or technology that is being investigated.

In other words, yellow paper is a more technical version of white paper. It presents the scientific details of the technology in a very concise way. If you think of a white paper as a proposal, the yellow paper can be part two where all the specific details are.

A yellow paper is more likely to present an in-depth scientific or mathematical analysis of, for example, a specific blockchain network.

For blockchain businesses and blockchain developers, the yellow paper is a far more technical document often containing the promise of technology development that has yet to achieve. It is a theoretical or research-based document with potential avenues for technological development rather than the planned technology seen in a whitepaper.

The Ethereum Whitepaper and Yellow paper

Ethereum Whitepaper

Consider the Ethereum Whitepaper, it includes its background, the Ethereum philosophy, the technology, its applications, and the workings of the Ethereum token and mining.

An example of a such White paper is titled “A Next-Generation Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform”. As a whitepaper, it’s designed to engage both potential investors and those interested in the technology, while not being a strictly technical document.

Ethereum Yellow paper

Compared to Ethereum's whitepaper, Yellowpaper ‘s language and style are different. Yellow papers are often necessary to develop partnerships between blockchain companies and their development teams, for corporate-level investors, and for blockchain innovators such as those seeking to use open-source blockchain technology for their applications.

The Ethereum yellow paper introduces the technology and provides definitions, but then jumps straight into complex computational equations designed for an expert reader to study.

The title “Ethereum: A secure decentralised generalised transaction ledger, Byzantium version” is more technical. It is designed to engage a more blockchain savvy user or developer.

Beige Paper

A beige paper is a rewrite of a yellow paper for readability. It re-formats the yellow paper into a more organized format and is usually easier to understand. The information on the beige paper is not as difficult to grasp as a yellow paper.

A third document can also be found on very rare occasions. It is called the “Beige Paper”, it simply simplifies the mathematical details included in the yellow paper and turns it into an easier to read format.

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