Now we are in public beta I think the time is right to do some community building. I am currently third (by one reputation point) in the overall leaderboard (at the time of writing and only by a single reputation point) on our main site, which is really a bit unrealistic given my crypto knowledge is pretty basic.

So, the question is, how do we attract the likes of Thomas Pornin and Paŭlo Ebermann to come here start answering/asking questions of their own?

My hope is that bringing in such people would also bring in more questioners – people who want their questions answered by experts. Perhaps an alternative is to focus on generating questions first – I don't know. I feel like that debate is a chicken/egg situation. That's already been asked though.

I ask particularly because, prior to MathOverflow, for example, some prominent Mathematicians had a lot of discussions via blog comment threads and email. That community, I believe, basically took the initiative to start Mathoverflow when SE 1.0 came along. So for all I know, cryptographers could be having discussions tucked away in comment threads too.

So, any suggestions? Is there anywhere we can post a sneaky advertisement/invitation? Anyone know any prominent cryptographers that are going to become prolific question-askers and answerers here (who just haven't realised it yet)? Any cryptographic communities we can reach out to?

  • $\begingroup$ Actually, my cryptographic knowledge is also pretty basic ... I think I learned more about cryptography in the last month than my whole life before. (And I don't know anyone in the community.) $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 14 '11 at 18:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Paŭlo well, that makes two of us then... still, I'm hoping we can bring in some more Thomases, then I get to learn some more things. $\endgroup$ – user46 Aug 14 '11 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, there were already some communities which wanted to clone me :-) (But we would need create a copy including existing knowledge and personality, not create a new genetically identical baby which needs 20 years to be useful.) $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 15 '11 at 2:33

Depends on what you mean by Cryptographers. There are various kinds of experts in cryptography: academics (mathematicians, CS theorists, computer science and engineering academics researching in more applied areas of crypto), and security and cryptography experts from industry.

If you mean academics like say Oded Goldreich or Shafi Goldwasser (people who write academic crypto papers) it is going to be very difficult. Based on my very limited amount of crypto knowledge I can say so far this site has not generated enough questions of the type that academics study to make them interested in visiting the site. You need academic researchers that would ask such question to attract the top experts, and even if you get such questions, it will still be very difficult to attract them (they don't like time sinks that would take from their research time). Advertisements will not make it, you need recommendations from people whom those academic experts know personally.

On the other hand, if you mean expert Cryptographers who are not academics but say from the industry or the hacker community, I think there is a good chance of attracting them by advertisement. There are many online security forums, mailing lists, blogs, ... and advertising in those places will attract experts that would answer the questions and people who would ask quality questions that those experts would like to answer. Another possible place is news sites like slashdot and hackernews. If you have a good quality question or answer share it there and that should help a lot with getting more experts and good questions.

Comparison with MO is not a good one IMHO, MO was started by people who were or personally knew some of the top mathematicians from the begging. That is not true about crypto. You should have had those academic researchers on board from the start, it is very difficult to get them later, right now there seems to be a handful of people who are crypto researchers here, let alone famous ones. It is going to be quite difficult to convince them to use a site started and populated by non-researchers. I think researches in applied cryptography are the group of academics that are most likely to be attracted to the site.

I don't think focusing on getting academics is a good strategy, there are many crypto experts in the industry and hacker community that can ask interesting crypto questions and answer them.

Note: I am a moderator on cstheory, have argued previously on area 51 for two level model against one level model, also against this crypto proposal, and I still more or less hold those views, so what I wrote above is probably biased towards them.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree with the first part. People of that calibre are hard to attract and keep because they have so many demands on their time. We can hope, though! I've posted comments on a blog or two I follow; hopefully that'll generate some interest. A question - have you tried hackernews with CSTheory and if so did it work? $\endgroup$ – user46 Aug 25 '11 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Ninefiners, Someone share a Math.SE post there and there was a huge increase on the number of their viewers. No, we didn't post something on hackernews ourselves from cstheory, I don't think that would attract users for cstheory that we are looking for. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 25 '11 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ That's interesting to know, thanks. $\endgroup$ – user46 Aug 25 '11 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Ninefingers, Here is a link to the related Math.SE meta post. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 25 '11 at 22:08

Post on Perry Metzger's cryptography@metzdowd.com mailing list, advertising Crypto.SE.

  • $\begingroup$ That's a good suggestion; thanks. I might try it if you haven't already? $\endgroup$ – user46 Aug 25 '11 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ Go for it, @Ninefingers, with my thanks! I haven't tried it. $\endgroup$ – D.W. Aug 27 '11 at 4:21

Give a rump session talk at the next crypto research conferences you attend, advertising Crypto.SE.


Someone could reach out to the folks who used to be prolific on sci.crypt, back in the day. e.g., Peter Gutmann, David Hopwood, Greg Rose, Doug Gwyn, Mark Wooding, Scott Fluhrer, John Malley, Francois Grieu, Paul Rubin, Bryan Olson, Matthew Fisher, Paul Crowley, Bodo Moeller, Wei Dai.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I believe François Grieu now participates (at least, there is a participant under the name "@fgrieu"). Greg Rose told me that he did not have time presently. Someone (I don't remember who) made an announcement on sci.crypt. $\endgroup$ – Thomas Pornin Aug 25 '11 at 0:54

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