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In the world of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, a soft fork is where the cryptocurrency chain experiences a divergence. Specifically, soft forks are contrasted with hard forks, which are more expensive and less easy to resolve.
There is a lot of abstraction around the actual definition of hard and soft forks.
Both are described in various ways by experts who understand the ways that the bitcoin system works as a largely unregulated, often chaotic and pretty complex financial model. For example, an expert might describe a soft fork as "backward compatible" or suggest that it is a "temporary split" in the cryptocurrency chain. Investopedia describes it as "a change to the software protocol where only previously valid blocks/transactions are made invalid."
One of the biggest takeaways from all this is that soft forks are easier to resolve in the bitcoin community. Hard forks may cause a permanent split in the chain, where new cryptocurrencies are formed and split off from the main branch. By contrast, soft forks can often be resolved by consensus and will include more cohesive backward-facing activity on the chain.