14

The original discussion for the Substrate site's finalized name was held here. There, we already had some discussion and conflict around the inclusion of "Polkadot" in the description of the site. The original post by staff states:

We slightly shortened the target audience description, compared to what the proposal currently reads — "for developers building blockchains with the Substrate SDK, including all parachain developers building on Polkadot, Kusama and other related technologies" — since we think that if the second half was present we should rename the site so its scope is slightly wider than just Substrate.

I think we are coming to agreement that this site should really be called polkadot.stackexchange.com, since Substrate is just a subset of the overall Polkadot ecosystem, and the questions on the site so far have been all around Polkadot.

You can see from the tags page that the #1 tag at the moment is .

Furthermore, the brand of Polkadot extends far further than Substrate, and this will overall be better for the community.

Do you think we should rename this site to Polkadot?

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  • 10
    StackOverflow and StackExchange are oriented for developers, substrate is aimed at developers around polkadot but also all blockchains based on subtrate personally I am completely against renaming this stackexchange to Polkadot.
    – Dream
    Feb 24 at 13:40
  • 2
    Is there a reason why this wasn't brought up while the site was in its definition phase in Area 51? Trying to assess what prompted this request at this point.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 17 at 18:06
  • 3
    You said there's seems to be an agreement forming around the fact that the site should be renamed — where are these conversations being had, since I don't see them in this Meta site?
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 18 at 10:24
  • 1
    There is no shadow organization or conversation happening. I have coworkers I work with, and in response to trying to make the site more visible, we had conversation about this possibility. All I am asking in this question to the moderators is if this is something that is possible. If it is possible, then certainly we can pursue things like a community poll or fetch for other feedback.
    – Shawn Tabrizi Mod
    Mar 18 at 19:35
  • @Dream stackexchange.com has many counter examples to your argument against. For example worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/226899/…
    – Dan Shields Mod
    Mar 18 at 21:59
  • 1
    Thanks for the clarification, @ShawnTabrizi — it is a possibility to change the site name, indeed, and I've edited this post so it is the place to host that community discussion/poll you mentioned (note that we usually discourage actual polls with pre-filled "yes" and "no" answers to simply be voted on, instead encouraging folks to post their answers with their reasoning so everyone else can opine and vote). If a consensus is had, creating a separate post with the actual request ("let's rename the site") would be appropriate.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 21 at 10:57
  • 2
    Have you considered going a bit broader than this? Could it make sense to go a step further and label it something like smart contracts & para chain technologies? To my knowledge, there isn't anything out there reasonably as well-formed and established as Substrate is. This could also help new developers interested in this technology to come here first. Context: I was a community manager in the blockchain space for four years before working at SO.
    – SpencerG StaffMod
    Mar 21 at 19:54
  • Seems a bit too broad? For example, I wouldn't intend this to be a place to discuss Cosmos, which is a GO Lang based blockchain framework. "Polkadot" correctly classifies our community, "Substrate" correctly classifies the underlying technology. Its not clear which is the one that should be optimized for, but certainly if our goal is short term traffic by new users (which the beta period is pressuring us to optimize for), then "Polkadot" would be the better choice.
    – Shawn Tabrizi Mod
    Mar 21 at 21:09
  • In either case, it would be nice if there was some cross reference between these terms in things like the site description, where it was modified from the original site proposal.
    – Shawn Tabrizi Mod
    Mar 21 at 21:12
  • @SpencerG we had some discussion about this and I think Polkadot, while not ideal, is still pretty much encompasses the whole community we are trying to create. Smart-contracts are meant to be implemented by parachains. However, parachains are also implemented by a Kusama network. Using "Polkadot" to refer to Kusama is not terribly specific, but does the job.
    – pepyakin
    Mar 22 at 9:33
  • @ShawnTabrizi not sure if "golang" is decisive here. A go based implementation of a Polkadot client is in works. Go can be used to describe a parachain logic with some success even now. And there are implementations of tendermint in Rust. What is decisive here is that just a completely different ecosystem with no prospect of any unification.
    – pepyakin
    Mar 22 at 9:39
  • 2
    @pepyakin Can you link us to these discussions? Our general policy (and why we have Meta sites) is that we need discussions that lead to decisions about site policy to happen here in public, on site, not in private spaces or on other platforms. If it's here (on meta or in chat), that's great - I just haven't been able to find it. If it's not, that's a concern to us since we've tried to make it clear that y'all need to encourage the community to move here if this site's going to stick around.
    – Catija StaffMod
    Mar 24 at 18:12
  • 3
    Your comments suggests to me that you might be feeling we're working against each other, and not with each other, @ShawnTabrizi — I can assure you the latter is the case. The chance to have the discussion about the site's description was in Area 51 itself, in the post you link to; in fact, a discussion was had, and it seemed like the bulk of the concerns were centered around SEO, which should be addressed by proper tag usage, as opposed to the site's description.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 25 at 10:46
  • 3
    More important, though, is the fact that your comment suggests to us a lack of understanding that this community is not owned by the company that builds Substrate/Polkadot: this community is meant to be public, and run by whoever wants to participate in it, and in the discussions that define it — and if those discussions are happening behind closed doors, as opposed to on a public Meta site where everyone can participate in equal footing, you're taking ownership of a community that does not belong to you by preventing other community members from participating in the discussion.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 25 at 10:46
  • 3
    We, on the other hand, are a private company that hosts these communities — it is literally our job to have the discussions you point out we're having, and we do our best to include the community as much as possible, and be as transparent as possible when we come to conclusions. I see why you'd be tempted to compare both situations, but hope my clarification is helpful in making clear the distinct nature of both.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 25 at 10:46

7 Answers 7

20

Short answer: If this is to be accepted, the domain should remain substrate.stackexchange.com but the title should be broadened to Substrate & Polkadot; just like the Unix & Linux Stack Exchange.

Long answer below.


No. If you change the name to Polkadot only, you will limit this site to a specific ecosystem.

Substrate is a superset to Polkadot and therefore should be the preferred name. Just as Daniel mentioned; and he is well on point.

What you are looking for is potentially improving the help/on-topic pages and the tour, e.g.,

Substrate Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for developers building blockchains with the Substrate development framework, such as Polkadot or Kusama. It's built and run by you as part of the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about Substrate.

[...]

Ask about...

  • Specific issues with the Substrate development framework
  • Specific issues developing for Polkadot, Kusama, or other Substrate-based chains
  • Real problems or questions that you’ve encountered

Don't ask about...

  • Anything not directly related to Substrate, Polkadot, or Parachains
  • Questions that are primarily opinion-based
  • Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer

What do you think?


Edit: I just found this and I think this strengthens my point not narrowing down the scope further:


Edit: I specifically meant adding the site's scope to the help/on-topic page, something along the lines:

Please look around to see if your question has been asked before. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

The following questions are considered on-topic for the Substrate Stack Exchange:

  • Specific issues with the Substrate development framework and other Polkadot SDKs
  • Questions with regard to developing and deploying relaychains and parachains for - but not limited to - the Polkadot ecosystem
  • Closely related issues with specific Rust, Ink, and Web-Assembly questions

If your question is not specifically on-topic for Substrate Stack Exchange, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site. If no site currently exists that will accept your question, you may commit to or propose a new site at Area 51, the place where new Stack Exchange communities are democratically created.

I'm not sure who has the privileges to edit these pages.

But that's just cosmetic. The main point is to build a brand around the site. You can easily call it Substrate but everyone will understand that it can be much more if communicated well.

3
  • 2
    I love the clarification edits here.
    – Jaco
    Apr 9 at 10:34
  • 4
    I agree that substrate.stackexchange.com + Substrate & Polkadot as a display name seems to be the best solution. Apr 19 at 12:40
  • 2
    I also agree with something along this direction.
    – Shawn Tabrizi Mod
    Apr 20 at 3:35
16

I personally prefer the Substrate name for the long-term - though as has been pointed out the unfortunate short-term consequence is that the Polkadot name is more recognizable.

I always thought of Substrate as a superset of Polkadot rather than the other way around:

Substrate and Polkadot set diagram

Also, even though a lot more people are aware of the Polkadot name than the Substrate name - it's not obvious to me how many of them would be interested in signing up to Stack Exchange to ask (mostly technical) questions.

1
  • 5
    I'd argue for substrate as there's less chance that anyone will want to ask off-topic questions about price. The focus should be on building amazing things and problem solving.
    – Squirrel
    Apr 5 at 17:50
12

Overall I'm mostly in favor of what @Afr wrote above and at the same time do recognize that "Polkadot" has more name recognition.

I'm actually very excited in what I see in this SE:

  • we have questions spanning multiple languages (Rust, Python, JS, Java ...),
  • we have questions from chain builders and well as those building wallets and tools,
  • we have questions spanning multiple chains (Kusama, Polkadot, Rococo, ...),
  • we have questions on both stand-alone and parachains,
  • we have questions on specific development issues as well as general framework direction as well as implementation approaches,
  • we have questions of building pallets as well as contracts.

And I would certainly like to see questions on e.g. Gossamer here when that hits the mainstream. I would really love it if more of the actual parachain builders give their view on the SE naming as well. I certainly would like to have questions about their platforms and chain-specific SDKs appear here more often.

This really is much broader, as evident by the usage, than any one specific technology and is pulling in enthusiasts from a number of different chains. Each have their own day-to-day issues with commonality in the tools that are being used to build.

"Substrate" may have issues, but imho, as an umbrella term, it is better than "Polkadot" just because of the fact that the latter can also refer to the token. I certainly think of the relay chain when I hear it, my wife thinks of the token when she hears it.

As a final thought: I would not consider myself an expert on naming, parts in the little ecosystem I work on get complaints about naming quite often. (And the umbrella name, polkadot-js, actually pre-dates the introduction of Substrate)

11

Personally, I believe that the strongest brand is polkadot. News articles refer to polkadot, not substrate. Polkadot is the main crypto, sitting centrally in the ecosystem as the token of the relay chain. Substrate blockchains also have their own tokens but most will rely on the relay chain for cross-chain communications at some point.

When you're developing with substrate you're already using polkadotjs or some other polkadot branded software. This points towards substrate being a subset of polkadot based technologies.

In summary, I think renaming this stack exchange to polkadot.stackexchange.com would make sense in the wider context, reduce confusion, and most likely strengthen the polkadot brand.

5
  • Considering the lack of community engagement during the beta, is there anyway to accelerate the name change?
    – forgetso
    Mar 21 at 13:38
  • 4
    That's somewhat backwards: there was community engagement during the Area 51 phases, at which point Substrate was the agreed-upon name. We'd need to see community engagement to propel the name change now too, not change it because there's no community engagement.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 24 at 18:16
  • Perhaps there would have been more community engagement at every stage if the name was polkadot. In terms of current community engagement, I was referring to the fact that this beta was nearly shut down due to low visitor numbers etc. I think switching the name to polkadot might boost numbers.
    – forgetso
    Mar 24 at 21:56
  • 1
    If the site had been defined as Polkadot on Area 51 from the start, sure, the community centered around that proposal might have been different: I have no way of knowing if it'd been bigger, more engaged, etc. More to the point, though: there was a group of users coalescing on Area 51 around a topic — Substrate. They defined that community, and their intended scope for it. Over 600 users committed to participating in a site about that topic. Only ~23% of them did so. Changing the site name doesn't do much to help change those numbers: the interest in the proposal was apparently inflated...
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 25 at 11:01
  • 1
    ...at least compared to the actual engagement we're seeing on site. I'm not saying it was a deliberate artificial inflation, just pointing out that it made it look like the site was ready to be launched into private beta and succeed, when that clearly wasn't the case.
    – JNat StaffMod
    Mar 25 at 11:01
6

Ok, my thoughts on this difficult topic.

Substrate

Substrate is a Rust-based blockchain framework. Since we're going into strict nomenclature, then it really starts and ends pretty much at the Parity Substrate repository with a few small pieces of tooling and the individuals/orgs/teams which use it. Uniquely Substrate technologies include Frame, OCWs and a number of pallets (the basic design/proposition for many pallets predates Substrate).

Polkadot

The meaning of "Polkadot", though is somewhat more multifaceted and broad. It is:

  • an ever-expanding set of technologies and protocols researched and designed mostly between the Web3 Foundation's research team and Parity Technologies.
  • an important fragment of the name of the Polkadot Relay blockchain network and an obvious inspiration of the name of the Kusama Relay blockchain network.
  • the community loosely based around this Relay chain, its stakeholders, participants and related parties.
  • a technical ecosystem including numerous projects (with Substrate at the core, but by no means only, component of the first and most developed Polkadot Relay chain implementation). It includes Smoldot, Polkadot-js, Cumulus, some tooling, and various other Polkadot-specific components such as XCM, tooling and alternative implementations such as Gossamer.

Of the two Polkadot is, I think, the looser term here.

Technologies

I think it also important to understand the proper heritage of the technology when "blessing" a name:

Many key technologies in Substrate (e.g. Grandpa, Babe, NPoS staking) did not come out of nothing: they were devised by the Web3 Foundation specifically for Polkadot or (e.g. in the case of using WebAssembly and libp2p) were already proposed as technologies core to Polkadot prior to their eventual implementation into Substrate. Substrate owes much of its composition to the Polkadot's proposition and conceptual development, not the other way around.

I think it also crucial to consider the relationship of Cumulus, XCM and message transport systems (like XCMP and bridges) to the name "Polkadot" and "Substrate" since many questions do tend to be asked about them.

  • Cumulus is an SDK which utilises Substrate to provide users which an API and much of an SDK for creating parachains.
  • The Substrate framework does not conceptually recognise XCM, in that it doesn't conceptually recognise non-local consensus. XCM is a concept rooted in Polkadot (literally so at present since it's part of the polkadot repo). It may become separated from Polkadot in the future, but it won't become part of Substrate.
  • At present, most message transport systems are intrinsic to the Polkadot protocol (XCMP, UMP, DMP). As our bridging technology reaches production, then we will have a transport mechanism which doesn't technically rely on a Polkadot-based blockchain. However, owing to our bridging being wholly dependent on Polkadot technologies (Grandpa), I think it a push to consider it any more a part of Substrate than of Polkadot.

Possible Conceptual Trees

There has been a diagram posted in another answer which I think is not indicative of reality. I don't really see either as being a superset of the other. However, I would especially disagree that XCM, Cumulus, Kusama are about "Substrate" more than "Polkadot", indeed quite the opposite: Substrate's contents and proposition would remain wholly unchanged without any of these existing. Conversely, they are all crucial to the existence of the Polkadot protocol.

Rooted with Substrate

  • Substrate
    • Polkadot technology & ecosystem
      • Working with the Relay-chains (governance, usage &c.)
        • Polkadot
        • Kusama
        • Rococo &s
        • Statemine/Statemint
        • Other system & CG parachains
      • XCM
      • Parachains
      • Auctions/crowdloans/...
      • Polkadot.js
      • Smoldot
      • Rococo
      • Parachain tooling
      • Relay-chain tooling
      • More Polkadot-client impls
        • Gossamer
        • Kagome
    • Cumulus
      • XCMP
      • Launching a parachain
      • Maintaining a parachain
      • Docs
    • Bridging
    • Frame & Pallets (Grandpa, Babe)
    • Other tech (OCWs, keys and signing)
    • Tooling
    • Contracts & ink!
    • Substrate Docs
    • Other Substrate chains

Rooted with Polkadot SDK

  • Polkadot SDK
    • Working with the Relay-chains (governance, usage &c.)
      • Polkadot
      • Kusama
      • Rococo &s
      • Statemine/Statemint
      • Other system & CG parachains
    • Auctions/Crowdloans
    • Cumulus
      • Launching a parachain
      • Maintaining a parachain
      • DMP/UMP
      • XCMP
    • Substrate: core blockchain SDK
      • Frame & Pallets (Grandpa, Babe)
      • Other tech (OCWs, keys and signing)
      • Tooling
      • Contracts and ink!
      • Substrate Docs
      • Other Substrate chains
      • Rust
    • XCM
    • Polkadot.js
    • Smoldot
    • Parachain tooling
    • Relay-chain tooling
    • Bridging
    • More Polkadot-client impls
      • Gossamer
      • Kagome

There's nothing too surprising in these conceptual maps and I've omitted quite a lot of stuff, but it's enough to build a bit of a picture about what I think would be considered more conceptually connected to one name as opposed to the other.

Essentially by using Substrate as the name, we're prioritising Substrate centric concepts (Wasm contracts/ink!, Frame and Substrate-specific tooling/docs) over Polkadot-centric concepts (Relay/CG/system-chains, parachain launch/maintenance, XCM, relay-based transport, Smoldot, maybe Polkadot.js).

On balance, I think the technology-set better represented by the "Polkadot SDK" name is more substantial than that which is better represented by the "Substrate" name.

Conclusion

Neither name works perfectly, and it is quite unfortunate that one must be selected.

We want to field questions concerning off-chain workers and ink! as much as we do about XCMP and Polkadot-js. We want to field questions from those who are creating parachains with other (not yet invented parachain SDKs) as much as we do from those who are attempting to create a private solochain with zero interest in joining the Polkadot community. So it must come down to judging one against the other.

In my mind it seems to be marginally better to label our technology ecosystem "Polkadot SDK" because:

  • Polkadot was around before Substrate. It is the legitimate conceptual genesis of most topics (with Frame being a notable exception), and more people associate parachain development with Polkadot than with Substrate.
  • It is easier (for me anyway) to think of questions which are more specific to Substrate (e.g. Frame/pallets) as being under the broader context of "Polkadot SDK" than avowedly Polkadot-native stuff like parachain-auctions and XCMP being as a broader part of Substrate. They really have no inherent connection to Substrate.
  • There are more projects and more code written which already utilises the Polkadot name rather than the Substrate name (especially Polkadot-js and Smoldot, two projects at the very core of the future of Polkadot development).

This has the very obvious disadvantage of making it much harder for people who are using Substrate to develop a solo chain and who are unaware of Polkadot to find their answers. But all indications to me are that such people are much smaller in number than those who know of Polkadot but not of Substrate.

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  • 2
    What about calling it Polkadot & Substrate similar to other Stack Exchange sites such as Unix & Linux, English Language & Usage etc. Apr 15 at 19:26
  • Presumably, similar to the other sites mentioned - the URL has to be a single word - so in this case it would be polkadot.stackexchange.com but the display name could be Polkadot & Substrate. Apr 15 at 19:38
3

I see the logic of people above who are saying that "Substrate is superset". I think however it is still too narrow.

Substrate can be used for creating parachains[^1] and standalone chains. Right now, it seems that the vast majority of the usage is the former. From my observations, it might be well past 90% of parachain builders. This is reflected in the biggest tags.

[^1]: blockchains that are hosted on the Polkadot blockchain.

Then, I see Substrate to be only as a tool. In the future hopefully we'll see other parachain development kits (PDK) that are vastly different from Substrate. I personally would welcome all the questions regarding the other PDKs in the Stack Exchange portal in question.

And even on top of that, there is at least another one implementation Substrate called Gossamer. It's described there as "Polkadot Host", but I assume you can do the very same things as with it as with Substrate (@Afr correct me if am wrong). After all Polkadot node is Substrate with additional, mostly validator, logic. I personally would welcome questions about other Substrate-like implementations on the portal in question.

Then, since chains that connect to Polkadot in itself are programmable, I expect that there will be a flood of developers for those chains. I don't think it would be a great idea to put those people into their own Stack Exchange portals. That would be a big burden for everyone: those communities, mods of SE, and the ecosystem as a whole. So I think it would be a good idea to host those people in the portal in question.

Assuming I managed to convince that Substrate does not work very well.

But why Polkadot? I don't think that it is the best name, but I do think that it is better.

When I say "Polkadot" I mean:

  1. not specific chains. First of all, we have almost identical Polkadot chains that are called: Polkadot, Kusama, Rococo.
  2. technology. A bunch of technology that together represent something that includes Substrate-like.
  3. ecosystem. Acala, Moonriver, Edgeware. I think y'all agree that you can slap a Polkadot label on them.

I agree that in order to see through those lens you will need to squint quite some. But I definitely think way less than if the name was Substrate.

I personally thought other alternatives, like Web3 (referring to the fact that the project is backed by web3 foundation), but the term already lives its own life and it would be just unfair to grab it.

6
  • 1
    Gossamer is not necessarily comparable to Substrate (yet?) but if it was, it would still be on-topic for a Substrate Stack Exchange site. My main concern with renaming it to Polkadot is this: area51.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/32746/…
    – q9f
    Apr 8 at 8:44
  • @Afr it seems to me that your thinking is not too far from mine, right? It just in my proposal how I think about it I use Polkadot as an umbrella term for technology and not platform. Does it make sense?
    – pepyakin
    Apr 8 at 12:14
  • 1
    Yes, for you and me who understand that, maybe. But for externals, e.g., the Stack Exchange team or other non-crypto communities, they just see that Polkadot is a "token" and for them, it will be hard to tell the difference between Polkadot, EOS, or IOTA.
    – q9f
    Apr 8 at 12:45
  • I would agree that for the average person Polkadot means the Relay Chain, the DOT token and the specific list of Polkadot parachains. In terms of other toolkits written in a different language, you could still argue that they are "Substrate" but written in another language. Whilst I think you'd have to do much more squinting to say that e.g. Gossamer is "Polkadot", especially if it has nothing to do with the Polkadot Relay Chain. Apr 9 at 6:56
  • 1
    Really not quite sure how something like Kulupu fits into a "Polkadot" world (it uses POW, not shared-security), but it certainly was built on Substrate.
    – Jaco
    Apr 9 at 10:48
  • @Jaco I think under the vision I described above where "Polkadot" is an all encompassing umbrella term Kulupu does fit, just because it was built on Substrate.
    – pepyakin
    Apr 9 at 18:28
1

I agree that there is a far larger and diverse community that directly use and relate to Polkadot. The Substrate community I see (almost!) entirely encompassed by Polkadot. Though considering the majority of questions around interacting with Polkadot (some examples can be found at https://support.polkadot.network/) are mostly independent of building with Substrate.

Especially considering what a name change should imply and enable medium term: parachain builders joining this forum to engage with developers and users of their platforms and apps. Considering that Substrate is core to all parachains (a few examples), empowering them to engage with the community of users and builders to get feedback & support could do wonders for our ecosystem. Thus far there has been no common place for the larger community to engage collaboratively on tackling common questions/issues. This SE should be that place where the whole community can easily share wisdom and know-how with each other across otherwise hard to cross divides between users of the different chains/apps.

I am very supportive of this change, it makes the value & impact this SE can offer far greater.

1
  • I take it back now, the answer above from Afi is solid. We can encourage ecosystem engagement here just as well with substrate as the core in a less product focused way in relay chains only.
    – Dan Shields Mod
    Apr 19 at 1:15

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