The question More technical details on the ongoing (alleged) Chinese cyberattacks was recently closed by a moderator, with the explanation given that "reference requests are considered off topic here".

I want to appeal this closure, and request that the question be re-opened. I think the question is a fine one for this web site. I also think it does not violate any established policy.

The explanation links to the following post on meta: Do we want "literature recommendations" and similar "list/subjective questions"? That question was asking primarily about open-ended questions, e.g., "What is your favorite book in cryptography?". The discussion there (quite reasonably) concluded that we don't want such questions, because they are too open-ended and subjective, there is no way to judge a right answer, and they basically just become a poll with dozens of answers where people vote on their favorite answer and where the ordering just reveals popularity rather than technical merit. That's a fine stance for this site to take.

But I don't think it has anything to do with the latest question on the Chinese cyberattacks. The latest question was not an open-ended question. It was not a solicitation to a popularity poll and not likely to lead to one. Instead, it was a quite reasonable question: it asks for more technical details on a subject that was reported in the press. It might have been phrased in the language of a request for a reference, but the essence of the question was to ask for more technical details.

I think that's a perfectly reasonable question. (It might be hard to answer -- but then again, maybe not, maybe someone will be able to provide more details.)

Therefore, I request that the question be re-opened. I think it's better for the community to decide whether the question is suitable. Please up-vote this post on meta if you agree that the question should be re-opened, or down-vote the post if you feel that the question should remain closed.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you edit that question to actually ask about the (cryptographic) details, and not "where can I read about the details"? (Also, a better title would be needed.) I suppose a good answer here should contain at least a basic description of the crypto part of the attack, with references to more detailed descriptions elsewhere, if they exist, and a good question actually ask for that. $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2013 at 13:16
  • $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann, I've edited it per your request. I really don't understand why that makes a difference (analogy: if I ask for a citation to a research paper describing how to build a cryptosystem with property X, that's unacceptable, but asking how to build a cryptosystem with property X is acceptable? what would be the justification for that? that seems odd to me), but I've made the change you requested. Does this make you more inclined to support re-opening the question? $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Jun 2, 2013 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ The general philosophy behind my request is that we (which means Stack Exchange in general and Crypto SE in special) want to build a collection of knowledge (in the form of answered questions), not just a collection of hyperlinks (for that there is the Open dictionary project). I now reopened the question. $\endgroup$ Jun 2, 2013 at 18:48


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