But without formal vetting, it’s rare for a white paper to achieve Nakamoto-level quality. Some papers are outright scams, veiled in pseudo-technical language that might not even be logically sound. “Maybe they’ll call the person they have beers with to read it on a Saturday, and they call that peer review,” says Sirer. “These papers would not pass scrutiny by any sort of scientist.”
Great article. It is amazing the stuff that goes on with whitepapers and nobody seems to notice.
Raises good points on why peer review is necessary.
“The problem is that people are too eager to claim they’ve done something new,” says Hevia. Many of the underlying cryptography concepts in blockchain originated from academic research in the 80’s and 90’s, says computer scientist Arvind Narayanan of Princeton University; even Nakamoto’s white paper had a reference section.
If whitepapers took on the look and feel of academic research, with annotated sources and less hyperbole, it would be a big step forward for the industry. If I was a VC I would demand these things.