There have been some meta questions lately about where is a good place to talk about in-depth cryptanalysis and the design of entire schemes. These types of questions are explicitly off-topic for the main site, and the accepted answer appears to be to ask such questions in The Side Channel.

However, there is a problem with this conclusion.

Many of the users who want to ask such questions are new, and as such they do not have the requisite reputation that would allow them to use The Side Channel. So it appears that they simply have no recourse.

Let's imagine we're a new user:

  • We come to because we need some assistance that few other locations will be able to provide.
  • We gather the courage to ask a question.
  • The question gets closed for violating rules we're not familiar with.*
  • Then we're told to ask in chat, and we do not have the ability to do so due to the rules of the site

That's a pretty poor resolution.

Yes, a new user could ask questions or answer questions to try and garner rep to gain access to The Side Channel. However:

  • It's entirely possible (if not probable) that they don't have any other/better questions than the one they came here with
  • Questions don't receive many upvotes on crypto (unless you get lucky and hit HNQ)
  • Downvotes may even accrue faster than upvotes if you're not very knowledgeable yet
  • Users may not have the requisite knowledge to post answers that will be upvoted and again stand the risk of such answers being downvoted

The 20 rep barrier to talk in chat may not seem like it should be much of an impediment, and maybe it's not on a different site like or if you're already quite knowledgeable about cryptography. But the fact remains that there are users that have this problem.

What can we do about this?

* Yes, you should read the rules before posting. But it's possible that you do so and fail to retain 100% of all of the details of what is and isn't appropriate.

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    (Not explicitely addressed at Ella:) One may want to note that 20 rep is 2 answer upvotes or 4 question upvotes, without downvotes. Now go and ask yourself, how often do you upvote questions or answers from 1 rep users and how often you downvote them. – SEJPM Jun 14 at 18:18
  • Publicly post a burner crypto stack account email and password with 20 rep into the side channel, or copy paste their question into the side channel. – Q-Club Jun 16 at 4:10
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    @Q-Club the problem with the public burner account is that I'm pretty sure it's against SE ToS (like with any reasonable ToS) to share your access credentials (so that SE can always blame you if bad things happen). – SEJPM Jun 16 at 16:52
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    @Q-Club That sounds like an attempt at an answer rather than a comment. Anyways, I don't see how copy pasting their question into the side channel will help them, as they won't be able to see any answers or participate in the discussion/make clarifications regarding their questions/etc. Any answers couldn't be relayed back to the user without abusing something like comments on their question (which was probably closed). – Ella Rose Jun 16 at 18:43
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    At er: yes, it would be impossible to coordinate. And @SEJPM I would not worry about people abusing burner crypto stack accounts – Q-Club Jun 17 at 1:04

A solution which applies only for the ♦ moderators: invite the user to chat. You can use a superping which IIRC even works when the user hasn't created a chat account yet.

Note that there has been a feature request to add 'invite to chat' as a privilege for (high rep) users.

Another way to earn 20 rep is "ten approved edits". Unfortunately, a) crypto:se questions tend to be well written; b) that's a lot harder for non-native English speakers.

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    I've voted this down even though it is correct. The reason for this is that it is entirely impractical in my opinion and secondly, we really don't want new time users to edit questions just to earn reputation. Thanks for joining in with an interesting option none-the-less. It's good to have it listed. – Maarten Bodewes Jul 20 at 13:50

What can we do about this?

Nothing needs to be/should be done:

  • We're not obligated to find a way to help users whose questions fall outside of the scope of the rules of our site
  • They haven't contributed enough to warrant our help
    • Chat is a privilege, not a free ticket to post their off-topic stuff
  • Redirecting their questions to chat will just get them ignored a second time and frustrate those users again
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    Note: I don't advocate this as an actual solution (but cannot -1 it myself), I am just posting it as a candidate answer so that the community may vote it up or down as they agree/disagree with it. If there are no solutions being proposed, perhaps if it is because people feel this way (or perhaps no solutions exist, we'll see). The question has been featured for a good while now and not much has happened with it. – Ella Rose Jul 15 at 15:06

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