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Recently, Catija suggested we can change our side-bar text on the ask page to be more site-specific and warn people more directly that cryptocurrency questions tend to be off-topic.

The way this works is that we get to customize the following box labelled step 1:

Screenshot of the step 1 sidebar box on the ask question page.

There are at least three sites on the network which have already customized this box: SFF, EL&U, and CodeRev. The common theme for them seems to be that they are kep really short and with links to helpful resources.

Now the questions we are asking ourselves are:

  1. Do we want to customize this box? I.e. do we think it would be helpful in reducing the number of obviously off-topic questions we get?
  2. What themes do we want to talk about and what are the corresponding meta resources? Cryptocurrencies? Ciphertext dumps? Homework dumps? Programming questions?
  3. What is the precise wording we want put in there?
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  • $\begingroup$ I'm about three minutes into searching for "The Rules" for what's on- or off-topic for this site, so I would certainly appreciate that list being linked in that sidebar. $\endgroup$ – JamesTheAwesomeDude Apr 21 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ @JamesTheAwesomeDude this is a new feature. Even AskUbuntu doesn't have it, yet. One can always find them at help center $\endgroup$ – kelalaka Apr 22 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ I think both current answers are a bit negative, it's mainly about which questions not to ask, rather than how to ask a good question. Just one statement that questions need to be on topic and that this site is not directly about cryptocurrency (with a link to our help site about on-topicness) might be enough. Then we can give positive hints about MathJax and whatnot. $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Apr 24 at 16:06
  • $\begingroup$ @MaartenBodewes I see what you mean about the current answers being too negative. Can you perhaps write one then using more positive language? (Mine tries to give an overview of the scope the site which is inherently negatively defined for us I feel) $\endgroup$ – SEJPM Apr 24 at 18:23
  • $\begingroup$ @MaartenBodewes besides, we need to have a community Q/A about how to as god question. That may encourage people. $\endgroup$ – kelalaka Apr 24 at 18:35
  • $\begingroup$ @SEJPM Maybe tomorrow, my brain's a mush at the moment... $\endgroup$ – Maarten Bodewes Apr 24 at 18:57
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I agree with the more exhaustive proposal initiated by kelalaka that a bulleted list might be helpful. However, I think we should keep it contained to the most common issues we encounter and leave the exhaustiveness to our Help Center. So instead my below suggestion focuses on our four close reasons as these are by definition the most off topic isues we get.


The community is here to help you with questions about cryptography. Provide details and share research with your question.

While drafting your question, please note that we have some rules for questions some might not expect, in particular:

If your question passes the above considerations it will most likely be on-topic, if however you want to be extra sure, you can browse our on-topic page, our main site for similar questions, our meta site or even ask on our meta site.

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A simple bullet for the possible issues might be helpful. Edited to fit the full format with a little cheating.


The community is here to help you with questions about cryptography. Provide details and share research with your question.

While drafting your question, please note that we have some rules for questions some might not expect. If you are looking for;

  • How cryptography is practically used; consider Information Security
  • How cryptography is implemented and how to correct implementation errors; consider StackOverflow
  • How to improve a working cryptographic implementation; consider
    CodeReview
  • How to use a Cryptographic library/software; consider SuperUser
  • How to find a cryptographic library/software; consider Software Recommendations
  • Financial, economical, legal aspect of cryptocurrency, or the usage of related tools; consider Bitcoin, and others.
  • How to find a solution to your crypto-related puzzles; consider puzzling.

If your question passes the above considerations it will most likely be on-topic, if however you want to be extra sure, you can browse our on-topic page, our main site for similar questions, our meta site or even ask on our meta site

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