First up: I’m not sure if this is an acceptable answer, as this is actually a comment-that-ran-out-of-space, but I’ll start dropping my humble 2 cents nevertheless just to see how much my comment grows…
If he edits it…
To my surprise, OP chose to delete the question.
That can be answered or flagged as duplicate as appropriate. It can be answered if [technique] is not covered elsewhere on the site, and flagged as dup otherwise.
I completely agree.
That was the reason why I chose not to vote on that one, as I hoped your encouraging comment to edit the question would motivate OP to do so. As said: to my surprise, OP chose to delete the question.
To make matters worse, questions that merely contain a block of data such as this are often flagged likewise.
You are absolutely correct. Flagging that as a “decryption request” makes no sense at all.
In fact, I remember that one as I personally flagged it for mod-attention with a migration request because (like you already had noticed) the question was about “TLS” and “packet analysis”, not cryptography. While I am writing this, the question has been successfully migrated to Security.SE.
Anyway, let’s dive to the core of your “question”…
Are we being too harsh with
analyze - decrypt a block of data?
Sadly enough, most questions containing ciphertext boil down to
Decode this for me: "rT%7Z(". and that makes it pretty hard to find reasons not to flag it as a decryption request.
In such cases, most of us (not all) tend to follow a common lead of asking the OP what he/she has tried, if there were any results, problems, or anything else that might be useful to know to be able to write up a usable answer, or to enhance the question… after all, we’re here to help. But we can only do that if we know what OP understands and what OP might be missing. Fact is, it doesn’t make sense explaining crypto from A to Z just because OP might have been too lazy to write up a decent question.
Let’s take a look at the most recent example on my activity timeline:
knapsack Calculate the initial superincreasing sequence
Consider the hard knapsack (7, 14, 49, 82, 88, 98) which was created with the key 7 mod 101. Calculate the initial superincreasing sequence.
please help guys!!
I’m sorry to say so, but I doubt anyone will step forward and simply solve your tasks for you. What research have you done? What have you tried? What exactly are you having a problem with? – e-sushi May 12 at 0:21
In fact, I think this is rather nice example because it’s a readable “please decode” question missing the usual block of scrambled unicode characters. Nevertheless, it has some problems and is actually nothing else than a decoding request, which may or may not be asking for some background theory.
Now, I left the comment and a few hours later I revisited it, saw no changes and then decided to flag it. Others did the same. Was that wrong? Did “we rush all for the flag”? At first, you might tend to say “yes” because I could have waited a few days instead of a few hours. But the reason I think flagging wasn’t wrong is that a question that gets put on hold (1) got flagged for a reason, and (2) can be edited as well as re-opened.
Which brings us to something which might not be completely understood by new users:
Questions that have been put on hold have some kind of problem and should be edited by OP to enhance them, to make them clearer, or to fix whatever issue the question has. From my own experience at other SE sites, closed questions can be reopened after an edit and even become somewhat successful for a question that initially got closed.
Besides taking care how and what we flag, we need to communicate that to users with comments.
Which finally brings us to what you are pointing to…
You are correct.
To enable OPs to fix problems, OPs need people to flag correctly and – even more important – leave a constructive comment to help OP enhance the question.
Therefore, I absolutely agree with your reminders:
- Really read the question: My eye caught a block of gibberish so it's a de-req is not proper site maintenance. The mere existence of a datadump does not merit a close vote.
- Flag them as duplicates
Yet, I would add “if possible“ to the later point because (looking at that example question I qouted) some questions just don’t offer the option to mark it as a dupe of something because there is nothing alike.
Hmmm, I guess that somewhat wraps up this comment-that-became-an-answer.
On a side-note: I sure hope
some of our peers doesn’t include me. I always leave comments when flagging so that if people disagree with me, they can point me to it. I’m known to correct my mistakes. ;)