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The tour page (successor of /about) contains a section “Ask about…” and a section “Don't ask about…”. The positive section lists the main topics that are available on this site, but the negative section contains only the default boilerplate.

Let's mention the things that matter in the “Don't ask about…” section. What things?

The format constraint is that the section has to start with “Don't ask about…” and needs to be pretty short. Most sites use a list of bullet points.

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Our custom close reasons reflect things that we don't want people to ask here, yet get asked anyway. So let's list them:

Don't ask about…

  • what articles or books to read
  • how to decipher a block of data
  • programming or end-user questions
  • organization security policies (try Security)
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  • $\begingroup$ Not sure… would it make sense to add “• analyzing or breaking self-made/amateur crypto” to that list? (To handle related questions, which frequently end up remaining unanswered, while their comments area is humming the well-vetted “don’t roll your own crypto“ mantra.) $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Aug 22 '14 at 9:01
  • $\begingroup$ @e-sushi That's what I meant by “how to decipher a block of data”. Your wording is a lot better. (They don't cover exactly the same cases, but yours is the most common case we want to keep off.) However, it isn't quite right: we do want questions about analyzing crypto — “does this protocol provide non-repudiability” is fine, what we don't want is “can you decipher this hex string”. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 22 '14 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ That’s why I wasn’t sure. Especially, since we frequently happen to stumble over questions like this one… which is a prime example of a question that really manages to blur the lines between “asking to analyze a algorithm or protocol is OK” (which I tend like) and “please don’t make me analyze that self-made thingy” (which make me want to hit my head against the wall). I guess you know what I mean, don’t you? ;) $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Aug 22 '14 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ @e-sushi I know what you mean! The challenge is to convey it in no more than about 10 words. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 22 '14 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ I could wrap it in two words: “Just don’t…“, but I doubt they would understand. ;) Jokes aside, here’s 10 words: (Don't ask about……) “• deciphering a block of data, or analyzing your amateur crypto” That would wrap two things into a single line and (hopefully) prevent either of the two from being asked. $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Aug 22 '14 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ @e-sushi, Gilles: Deciphering a block of data is not necessarily about self-made crypto, it could also be a known (or unknown) standard algorithm. I'm not sure it is wise to put both together? $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 22 '14 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann That wasn’t what we were implying. But I guess things got a bit out of focus there, indeed opening the door to potential confusion. Initially, my suggestion was to add another list-item saying “• analyzing or breaking self-made/amateur crypto” – which on it’s own probably makes more sense than trying to combine two different things into one line, just to save a bit of space. $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Aug 22 '14 at 19:15
  • $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann Hmmm. On the one hand, we put them together in the close reason because from our point of view, they have the same flaw — we don't want “break this I dare you” questions. On the other hand, from the asker's point of view, they're somewhat different. Which cases are the most common? The tour page is meant to be an easy read, not to be exhaustive. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 22 '14 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ @e-sushi We would take this question… even if we'd bleach our brains afterwards. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Aug 22 '14 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles Hmmm… guess you’ve got a point there. Scratch that suggestion of mine. Looking at it again, I now realize that it might be a bit “über-critical” from the perspective of new users. What was I thinking? Something like that might even scare off new users, which is not an option – or we’ll never get out of beta. Keeping that in mind, your brain-bleaching idea certainly seems to be more constructive! $\endgroup$ – e-sushi Aug 22 '14 at 22:59

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