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The scruples of writing ICO whitepapers

April 25, 2019

Table of content:

In a recent “exposé”, Ben Munster shows the apparent lack of scruples in the whitepaper writing field, following what he claims is a 2-week extensive investigation. As owner of the leading company for ICO and STO whitepaper writing, and someone who has personally written more than 50 ICO whitepapers, it fascinates me that somehow his investigation did not turn up our company, nor did he interview any of our writers.

Of course not. One glance at the website would reveal that we wouldn’t give him the answers he wants.

If you ask the question: does so-and-so have scruples, you might want to ask, first of all, what kind of scruples do you mean? What is the value judgment you are making about writers, what they should and shouldn’t be doing, and what the values are that should be attached to writing of whitepapers.

You might also ask, have you ever been in a situation where you were lied to? As you can imagine, with more than 400 companies per year making requests, I don’t know most of my clients personally before I start writing. Even when I do “know” them personally, it’s most likely from a conference where I met them for the first time.

ICO Whitepaper Writing

What would my scruples be, if I were to have them?

When it comes to my work, I have one guiding principle: My job is to help entrepreneurs fulfil their dreams. That’s what we do when we work with an entrepreneur, write a whitepaper, advise someone on tokenomics, or screen customers.

When customers call me, the first filter is whether they should be doing an ICO in the first place. Often, we will advise clients to create a two-page executive summary and show it to potential investors before considering whether their idea would have enough traction to get ICO investors. We tell people to go the regular fundraising route of seed and venture capital. Even more often, I’ll tell people their business idea isn’t ready for fundraising, or doesn’t make sense at all. I go through this process during the sales cycle both to add value and test the resilience and background of the founder.

Our team can’t write a whitepaper for someone who isn’t willing to think through the whole business process, so we don’t take clients who can’t engage in a deeper discussion of their plans. Unlike the writers in this “well-researched” article, we find only 25% don’t have a decent basis for work. Perhaps our pricing screens out the trash and sends them to the low-cost writers who were so open to criticizing their own clients.

Furthermore, I am old enough to know that my ideas are not authoritative. Dozens of time in my career, I’ve worked with startups I thought made no sense, but in the end turned out to be amazing successes. I’m not arrogant enough to think I can judge whether every single idea is a scam or not. If we are able to have a decent intellectual discussion on their business idea, even if it is slightly off, I can accept them as a client. It really isn’t up to us as content writers to determine the long-term viability of anyone else’s business plans.

When Munster writes about how we have no scruples, he’s making some presumption that as writers, we are doing something wrong if we are simply helping someone get their ideas on paper. I can’t see anything morally wrong about that. Yes, often our clients will show us several whitepapers in the industry and tell us the difference between what they are doing and the competitor, or even saying they are just like a competitor. There is nothing wrong with that, either. What’s the difference between different brands of bottled water? We don’t plagiarize, but we don’t think there is anything wrong with taking a business idea and giving it a different twist, or a better marketing budget. That’s capitalism.

At IwriteICO whitepapers, in other words, our values are:

  • Help entrepreneurs fulfil their dreams.
  • Add value. Provide helpful feedback that develops the whitepaper and the business.
  • Don’t be arrogant. We don’t have to agree with everyone’s idea of business or value.
  • It’s not our job to determine what “fair” distribution of wealth looks like. More about that below.
  • Don’t work with industries that really don’t align with our values. That’s a personal choice, which I discuss below.
  • Don’t do anything illegal, including the illegal activity knows as plagiarizing. Don’t copy work we did for one client for another client.

In quite a few cases, the team has turned down ICO whitepaper writing work based on solutions and industries that don’t align with our values.

We don’t do writing for gambling sites. We don’t do writing for the beauty industry (personal choice). We don’t write for most coins that have no specific audience or differentiation, mostly because we think that they have no benefit for anyone, including for the entrepreneur. We turned away many crypto exchanges, because as a team, we made a decision that we could not write great whitepapers for more than 4-5 per year without plagiarizing from the others. We are reluctant to work with metal-backed coins, because we have only seen one model where the company could potentially cover the overhead associated with holding the metal (in this case, it was a company that owned the rights to gold before it was mined). Those are our values, but we don’t think there is anything wrong with entrepreneurs who want to try any of those models.

So we have scruples, but we don’t impose our values on others. We have often referred clients we won’t take to other writers.

You don’t know what you don’t know

I ever violated my scruples above? Yes, several times, usually when the client misrepresented themselves. One client told us they were creating a more inclusive way to eliminate campaign finance corruption. However, by the time we were on the second draft of the whitepaper, we realized they were just trying to raise money for their own campaign. Once we worked with a token that we felt was useful to a specific audience, and then we found out that within their ecosystem of apps was a gambling app. Another time, the client seemed honest and open, but in the end we think they were just doing another worthless coin. We couldn’t have known it based on our initial conversations.

In these cases, we had the choice to abandon the project in the middle and refund the client’s money (or not), or to finish the project although it didn’t align with our values. We generally chose to keep our word as a business and complete the project, but there were several cases where we returned funds if we felt uncomfortable with the client.

In one of the cases where we completed the work, the company actually did pivot the project, because they realized what they were doing was scammy. Several founders abandoned their projects mid-whitepaper based on our feedback. Clients who work with us expect honest feedback and know our business background. Where projects have been abandoned, we’ve saved people hundreds of thousands of dollars in chasing a bad idea. Clients are willing to pay extra for honesty. None of the other contractors they worked with wanted risk their income by telling the founders they were not going to succeed.

Intellectual honesty is good enough

Given everything above, we are happy to work for companies and founders who are at least honest with us. We had a client who once said that announcing an ICO was a “publicity stunt” and she did not plan to do a real ICO. She had a whitepaper, slide deck, etc., and 3 months later she sold her for-profit company to another for-profit company. Good for her. Good publicity stunt. She never claimed anything else or said anything about the token or tokenomics, and she went for good-old-capitalism.

Similarly, I’ve had founders tell me straight up that this is a better way for them to raise money than the traditional startup path. With those founders, we always go through an exercise of deciding what would happen if they can’t list their tokens, if the token tanks in price, etc. They get a chance to look honestly for themselves at how they want to treat their investors, and the ethics of each founder varies. That’s fine with me, too.

Capital isn’t evenly or fairly distributed today. The hardest and smartest workers don’t get more of it. The people who add the most value to society don’t get more capital than those who damage society. Who am I to say what is a good or bad way to redisribute wealth? No, I won’t work with outright scammers, but I will work with someone who is looking at this in an honest way, getting investment for a real business, and being honest with himself or herself about how to manage the capital in the case where the token becomes worthless.

We work for cash not credit

I have my own ethics and guidelines. At the same time, our business is to provide a very straightforward service: writing an ICO whitepaper or an STO whitepaper. We are not advisors to the ICOs or STOs. We are not advisors to the investors in cryptocurrencies. We aren’t even the marketing agencies or social media experts who are promoting the ICO.

Nobody goes around telling copywriters or marketing agencies that they lack scruples if they work for pharma companies, extraction industries, political parties, hedge funds, violent games and films, or manufacturers that take advantage of third-world workers. We’re copywriters. We aren’t given any credit for the ideas, for the documents, or for anything else associated with the ICO whitepapers we write. We don’t promote the whitepapers or companies in any way.

We work for people who are not professional writers but want their ideas on paper.  They pay us to write. Each of us gets to decide what industry we think is ethical and which industry is not. It’s ironic one of our fellow writers, who knows the reality of being a paid writer (and who writes clickbait headlines), has something to say about my scruples. has the top organic SEO in the industry as well as the top blog in the industry, and we have written more than 100 whitepapers. How you missed us in your 2-week research project isn’t clear. What is clear is that you have no compunction about portraying your own professional comrades in a poor light. Maybe you should check not just your scruples, but your own professional self-interest before you publish this kind of work.