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A couple of years ago, the following question was asked here: Is this a good place to ask and answer questions about BitCoin? At the time, there was no Bitcoin Stack Exchange, but one has existed now for more than a year and a half, and it has a strong user base and a good level of activity and traffic.

In light of the existence of a thriving Bitcoin site in the network and some recent Bitcoin questions that have been posted here, I'm thinking we need to re-consider our policy for Bitcoin-related questions. Here are some Bitcoin questions you'll find on our site, with some recent ones at top:

My question is:

What kinds of Bitcoin questions should be acceptable at the Personal Finance & Money Stack Exchange, if any? Can a case be made for some Bitcoin questions being on-topic here, and others being off-topic, or should we expect the Bitcoin SE to handle all Bitcoin-related questions?

Your thoughts are appreciated.


UPDATE:

Based on the accepted answer below, we're adding the following to the Personal Finance & Money FAQ:

Please note that the following subjects are considered off-topic here:

[...]

  • Questions about Bitcoin (or other crypto-currencies) that have no bearing on personal finance. (You could try the Bitcoin SE instead.)

[...]

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I'm one of the mods at Bitcoin.SE and I took a look at your FAQ and the types of questions you get. I'd say you should probably welcome questions that deal with Bitcoins in the context of personal finance but not questions that deal with the mechanics or internals of Bitcoin itself. This rule would make pretty much all of the questions mentioned off topic.

For example, questions that might be on topic would include questions about Bitcoins as an investment, tax implications of trading Bitcoins, assessing risks associated with holding Bitcoins, using Bitcoins to hedge against inflation, consumer issues with paying for things using Bitcoins, and so on.

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    Thanks for answering. This is helpful. – Chris W. Rea Apr 5 '13 at 22:39
  • David, you wouldn't consider some of those within the scope of Bitcoin SE? I know y'all cover more than cryptography there. I think tax implications of Bitcoin is within scope here, as well as Bitcoins as an investment versus as a medium of exchange. My only concern is that every article that says any less than favorable thing about Bitcoin tends to attract rabid fans. And that attracts rabid detractors! Bitcoin SE can handle both of those sorts better than we can. I've written two brief articles on cryptocurrency, and learned to tread very carefully. – Ellie Kesselman Apr 6 '13 at 22:44
  • Sorry, one more comment: I miss the prior SE avatar! This looks much more stern, serious. MAybe that is intent... ;o) for gravitas? – Ellie Kesselman Apr 6 '13 at 23:02
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    @FeralOink It's not so much that they're not within the scope of our site it's that they fit better within the scope of yours. Bitcoin.SE is certainly prepared to answer econ and general money questions, but we do better at the tech stuff, much as I'm sure many of you have some handle on the tech but would prefer to answer econ questions. We'll still take them, we'd just prefer to leave each variety of question to those best suited to answer them. – David Perry Apr 7 '13 at 1:03
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    I agree with this 100%. Imagine if Bitcoin had been around for hundreds of years. Most of these questions deal with the technical aspects and the economic theory of the currency rather than the *subject* of personal finance. It would be like asking how the Federal Reserve generates serial numbers or manufactures the paper. None of these questions seem to be about the issues of "personal finance" that define this site. – Robert Cartaino Apr 8 '13 at 18:09
  • David, would it be OK if I started migrating these questions to bitcoin SE? Thanks. – Chris W. Rea Apr 9 '13 at 16:13
  • @ChrisW.Rea: I think that's a great idea. – David Schwartz Apr 9 '13 at 16:54
  • @DavidSchwartz Thanks - done, insofar as I could. Apparently, only a few were new enough to migrate; the system wouldn't permit migration of the older questions. – Chris W. Rea Apr 9 '13 at 21:42
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All the questions listed do not belong here and are more apt on bitcoin site.

There could be some bitcoins question that can be here ... but I can't think of any ... nor come up with some guidelines as to what kind of question they could be.

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The only reason I see to let bitcoin questions creep back in to the money@SE is to allow "unfavorable" opinions against bitcoin to be represented. Unfortunately, that doesn't sound like a valid enough reason to me, so I suggest keeping the bitcoin questions in the bitcoin@SE bucket, and leave it as is.

If the question can be rephrased so that the word "bitcoin" doesn't appear and yet the question doesn't lose its meaning - then it should be so rephrased.

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I'm one of the mods of Bitcoin.SE and I can definitively say this about what's on-topic on Bitcoin.SE:

  • Upper and lower bounds of the amount of bitcoins?
    • On-topic
  • What exactly are Bitcoins & how can you make use of them online?
    • On-topic
  • Can a security defy the laws of gravity and rise in price indefinitely?
    • Off-topic
  • What problem is BitCoin solving?
    • On-topic
  • How does someone get bitcoins?
    • On-topic
  • What does "high" and "low" mean on the Bitcoin market?
    • Sort of on-topic, but we'd rather see it go elsewhere
  • How much is one BitCoin really worth?
    • Not even close to on-topic
  • Can BitCoin eventually become mainstream? Will it raise legal/economical issues?
    • The "mainstream" bit is questionable but the legal/economic issues part is on-topic

As a general rule we tend towards the technical side of Bitcoin Q&A and will grudgingly answer questions on the economic side, but if the question is economic in nature and could be generalized to other assets (gold/silver/Euros/pork belly futures) we'd prefer it be asked on a site populated more by economists than cryptographers - if only for the sake of users getting better answers.

That said, there are a handful of econ questions that are entirely unique to Bitcoin, mostly because of its completely transparent nature and the related fact that we have access to statistics that simply don't exist for other assets. Those questions are entirely on-topic and absolutely welcome at Bitcoin.SE.

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    Thank you. To clarify you are stating on or off topic for the BitCoin.SE, not the money.SE? "Getting BitCoins" is on topic at BitCoin.SE and off topic at Money.SE, correct? – MrChrister Apr 5 '13 at 22:19
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    Correct. I can't speak for this site's mods as to what is on or off topic for their site, but I can at least speak to what should be asked on our site. – David Perry Apr 5 '13 at 22:22
  • Thanks for answering. If we did rule most Bitcoin questions off-topic, would you be willing to accept migration of the questions you marked "On-topic" above? – Chris W. Rea Apr 5 '13 at 22:39
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    Definitely. I'd say the general rule we follow is something like "If I substitute the word 'Bitcoin' for the word 'Gold' does it change the question in a meaningful way?" If it doesn't, you're looking at an econ question, not a Bitcoin question and we'd probably send it back. – David Perry Apr 5 '13 at 22:47
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    That is now my preferred way to think of it. If I can swap GOLD and BITCOIN in the question, then it is money.SE. – MrChrister Apr 5 '13 at 23:00
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    Or <insert foreign currency here> and Bitcoin, of course – David Perry Apr 5 '13 at 23:48
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    David, thank you for your specificity. It helps! There are existing regulations on transactions and taxation of securities, physical commodities, property and esoteric investments. And associated investment and trading strategies. This is with what we are familiar. We tend to give documented advice about practical matters. Bitcoin is unprecedented. Is it comparable to a currency? Or to a commodity such as gold or platinum? Currencies are liquid, good for all transactions, whereas gold can but rarely is used as a medium of exchange. Should Bitcoin be "swapped" with $US/ currency or with gold? – Ellie Kesselman Apr 6 '13 at 22:54
  • @FeralOink it can really be swapped for either, I'd say take it on a case-by-case basis. Bitcoin, as you've said, is unprecedented so unfortunately there's no easy hard-and-fast rule to help here :( – David Perry Apr 7 '13 at 1:00
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    I added a link to a question that started at money.SE and was migrated today. It's exactly the question you feel is off topic. I have no personal stance on Bitcoin, but it would seem that those familiar with it would be more able to discuss that question. I am keeping an open mind, but still looking for a question that's clearly in our camp, not yours. – JTP - Apologise to Monica Apr 9 '13 at 22:10
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I don't see it. It would seem to me the existence of the bitcoin site is enough to keep the questions there, and avoid the topic completely. We continue to reject questions that are limited in scope. This currency has fewer than 100K users (the bitcoin Wiki showed 60K about 18 months ago) and whose total value is under $2B.

The questions that are cited as off topic for the bitcoin.SE strike me as not on topic here either. Just my two cents. Now that I'd shared my thoughts, there's likely to be a question phrased just right that it's of interest to me.

Edit - I'm going to add that there appears enough controversy that any discussion that starts out as legitimate will easily go off to a tangent of debate. The comments on the question here are an example of this. BC questions here will keep the Mods busy. If this is a vote, I'm voting off-topic.

One More Edit - The Bitcoin Crash Continues — Now Down 77% From Two Days Ago - this reinforces my belief that we should avoid discussion at money.SE. It lends credibility that may be undeserved.

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