Take for example this question. It acknowledges being a CTF about textbook RSA with $e=3$, gives the hex for $n$, and a ciphertext much shorter than $n$. The OP is candid they did nothing towards a resolution before posting the question.

Such questions get comments with hints. I ask if we should close them.

Please make an answer to the present meta trying to set clear guidelines to a moderator.

  • $\begingroup$ Don't we already close them without answering? Am I missing something? $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 7:14
  • $\begingroup$ @kelalaka: Often we don't close such questions soon enough to avoid that there's an answer, or a solution in comment (the later has happened in the case in point), and meanwhile they are visible by all. I'm thus leaning towards closing such question ASAP, and I'd feel more entitled to do so with a clear consensus on the matter. $\endgroup$
    – fgrieu Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 7:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Handling of questions that match a good running CTF My Vote is close as them as soon as possible! We are not CTF solvers and I don't want to deal with the CTF organizers. $\endgroup$
    – kelalaka
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 7:39

1 Answer 1


Yes, we should close CTF-like questions below some threshold of difficulty.

The benefits are

  • The question will become invisible to all unregistered users and low-rep users. They will thus get a better opinion about the kind of questions we appreciate most.
  • It does not prevent users with enough rep (more precisely, with the close/reopen votes privilege I believe) from making comments giving hints to OP, and the OP seeing it.
  • This makes it less likely the question will get a complete answer (like a value, or step by step instructions to install and run the necessary tools) that I deem undesirable and off-topic.
  • These comments and the question won't be visible by low-rep users, including others doing web searches to find a solution.

The threshold for that policy can't be precisely defined, but criteria towards closing immediately include:

  • the question is clearly a CTF or exercise;
  • the answer is easy for one having a grasp at the basics of the problem;
  • the OP shows less effort at a resolution.
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think we *1 should directly close questions without effort, sometimes posting some kind of hint at the same time or explain our policy if we have the time. The ones with effort we can provide a hint for, but we can still vote to close them once enough of a hint has poured in. In that sense, for me this is more a "when" than an "if". *1 I'm mainly talking about users with the close privilege for the first 2/3 votes, then a mod may choose to give the final push. $\endgroup$
    – Maarten Bodewes Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2021 at 10:30

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