In the context of cryptocurrencies, a soft fork is a change to the rules or protocol of a blockchain that is backward-compatible with the previous version. In other words, it is a change that can be implemented without creating a new blockchain or currency.
Soft forks are usually used to introduce new features, enhance security or scalability, or fix bugs in a cryptocurrency network. They work by tightening the rules of the network, which means that nodes that have not upgraded to the new rules can still continue to function normally but they will not be able to validate certain new transactions that follow the new rules.
During a soft fork, nodes that have upgraded to the new rules will still be able to communicate with nodes that have not upgraded, but the upgraded nodes will reject any blocks or transactions that do not follow the new rules. This means that the upgraded nodes can continue to use the same blockchain and cryptocurrency as before, but with added features or enhancements.
Soft forks are generally considered less controversial than hard forks, which can result in the creation of a new blockchain and currency. However, they can still be contentious if there is disagreement among members of the community about the proposed changes.
In summary, a soft fork is a change to the rules or protocol of a blockchain that is backward-compatible with the previous version. It allows for the introduction of new features or enhancements while maintaining the same blockchain and currency.