When researching a cryptocurrency project, you will come across a document called “White Paper”. This document is the team’s proposal. It must include the problem they’re seeing, the solution (their project), some technical details about the blockchain’s (or other types of DLT) architecture and the deployment plan.
The first white paper released in the cryptocurrency space is Satoshi Nakamoto’s document on Bitcoin. This document set a standard in the industry and was followed by almost all projects. During the ICO craze in 2017-2018, many white papers’ content were simply copied from others in order to seem like a legit project worthy of people’s capital. Therefore these can be used as a first step towards vetting a project.
Another document, that is rarer to see, is called a “Yellow Paper”. The letter contains all the technical details of the project. This was first yellow paper was written by Dr. Gavin Wood for the Ethereum blockchain. Although the white paper usually contains some technical details about the protocol, the purely mathematical and algebraic details are omitted as they would be too difficult to understand by typical consumers.
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.
A white paper should always be presented and should state the points mentioned above. They tend to be written in simplified language for everyone to understand, however, one must have prior knowledge about different protocols and know each one’s strengths and weaknesses. This is important as any protocol presented in any white paper will usually be presented subjectively and outline the strengths only. Yellow papers and beige papers are not a necessity, there is no “official” requirement stating that a team must produce them. Nonetheless, it does add to their credibility in this rather “hard to trust” space.