There's a particular kind of user that visits us from time to time: The one who makes a rather bold claim, fails to follow through with a proof and continues to engage in a passive-aggressive exchange with the brave few who attempt to answer his question or use the comments section.

This {adjective} vampire* is not unique to Crypto, but can be found on all SE sites of theoretical nature. What makes him unique in our corner of the Exchange is the occasional reference to some "lobby" which doesn't want the question in public, or allegations of "Internet attacks" and lost connection on his end. Other topics such as the all-seeing, always-meddling {3-letter-agency} or various cabals are also often mentioned.

When mistakes are pointed out, most users are courteous and polite in accepting the fact. It's almost as if the answer they were looking for was something other than "well done you!". Others are not, and they usually get a rain of downvotes and eventually get the message. The vampire however does not - it will instead fall back to the patterns mentioned above.

  • Is this user more trouble than is worth?

    and if so

  • Should there be special provisions for this case?

I have no idea what the provisions would be. Complete radio silence from the rest is an option, as is the user limbo Attwood has talked about (can't find the link) though both options compromise the character of Crypto.SE.

**Not sure what the correct adjective is*

recent examples: First claim -> this new account and question

  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Send them to sci.crypt :) $\endgroup$
    – mikeazo
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 10:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Following on from my chat message on the subject: "This question has been closed as off-topic because snake-oil is off-topic on crypto.stackexchange.com. It would be more appropriate on sci.crypt $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @figlesquidge I wonder if snake-oil and tin-foil hats are a good combination… ;) $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 11:20
  • $\begingroup$ Related: similar question on academia.SE $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 12:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks to @mikeazo for taking the time to write up a proof to show that the claim made by the poster of this recent "incident" is crap :) (although the OP still believes that we do not get his point). Maybe we should suggest to send his article to this renowned journal ;) $\endgroup$
    – DrLecter
    Commented Mar 27, 2014 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ To me, that one question boiled down to a single character OP über-abused… ◼ (makes me wish we could edit comments) $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 14:46

3 Answers 3


My rather long experience on various usenet forums leads to a single useful conclusion:

Ignore such threads entirely.

For any feedback is ultimately a reinforcement.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Fiddlesquidge's answer is very helpful but your approach is $O(1)$, making it the accepted answer. $\endgroup$
    – rath
    Commented Mar 29, 2014 at 0:08

Since I figure Meta is a bit 'free', I'll put this comment here for its own discussion:

Often, these occurrences seem to follow the structure of:

  1. Ambiguous/gibberish claim with a "aren't I brilliant?" line to make it a question.
  2. A hardworking user cleans it up (usually e-sushi!)
  3. Someone answers the question by demonstrating why the "breakthrough" is incorrect.
  4. Most of the community agrees with this answer, and is impressed that someone bothered to write it up. One or more of the following occurs:
    • The O.P. is just ignores the logic presented within.
    • The OP to start moving the target, claiming they see a flaw in the counter-example, and their actual scheme avoids this, but they can't post all the details because [select one or more from]…
      • they will be assassinated
      • someone will steal their idea.
      • don't want to share because we're against them personally and won't listen anyway.
      • we wouldn't understand the details.
  5. Community gives up on the question and starts to close it.
  6. O.P. claims the community is persecuting them.
  7. Everyone gives up and the question sinks into the abyss.
  8. Many moons pass.
  9. The user posts almost exactly the same question again, and followers of this flowchart implement GOTO: 1 because we're too cool for structured loops.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'd vote up multiple times if I could so!! :) $\endgroup$
    – DrLecter
    Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ Ladies and gentlemen, we have reached our first GOTO: 1. There should be a badge to award this meta-answer because it definitely is on-point. $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Commented Mar 30, 2014 at 12:58
  • $\begingroup$ I advocate annihilation of gibberish claim questions with prejudice. However, my namesake is a barbarian with a fiendish temper so perhaps I am not the best person to ask? On a serious note I think closing can always be undone. I am generally against evaluating home brew schemes not because I want to discourage experimentation but because of this sort of problem. $\endgroup$
    – user46
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 7:32

There seems to be another form of conspiracy that hasn't been mentioned.

One user posts their question, is told their answer is plaigarism from a different SE site....and a different user posts the same question, which is then answered by the first user.

There are two issues I draw from this. The first is plagiarism, obviously the first OP stole an answer and then used it to answer his own question. When he was informed that he had been caught, his answer was deleted.

The second user posted an exact duplicate of the question, so someone plagiarized again here.

Other than the increase in players from one, to more than one, it really does follow figlesquidge's methods...it was just a really fast turn-around from 1 up to GOTO 1.

My concern is that if we ignore these types of threads altogether the plagiarism will go unchecked.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good thing is that there's always someone detecting such plagiarism, flagging it accordingly. Also, we mods may not always seem to be around as we sometimes are pretty quiet... but we are monitoring stuff more frequently than you'ld expect. For example: related to the linked Q&As it turned out those two accounts you've pointed to were frequently using the same IP address at the same time... which practically boils down to one person, trying to cheat the system with two accounts (aka "sockpuppet"). Appropriate action was taken today, which results in negative consequences for the involved user. $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 9:40

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