We currently have an “on hold” reason stating:

Requests for analyzing ciphertext or reviewing full cryptographic designs are off-topic, as the results are rarely useful to anyone else and/or would be too long for this site.

Yet, every now and then, we get a question which doesn't ask about analyzing ciphertext, but rather keys or other kind of data.

For example: ECDSA public key generated with constant prefix? One could argue this being kind of a programming question, but that wouldn't be 100% fitting because – at its core – the question asks users to look at the keys produced by some javascript library and expects answers to tell the asker if he/she should expect all pub keys to be more random or not.

Anyway, this is only a recent example.

To keep it short: since the close-reason mentioned above limits itself to ciphertext, we could think about adapting the close reason a bit.

  1. Do you think adapting the close reason so that it would also cover non-ciphertext cases of ”analyze this for me” questions (eg: keys, s-boxes, etc.) generally makes sense?
  2. If your answer is “yes”, what would you suggest we change the close reason to so that we keep the currently covered cases but also include other things askers might ask us to analyze?
  • $\begingroup$ The example question you gave seems to me to fall under the category of programming help with a specific library. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 3:49

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure the linked question is necessarily off-topic. Regardless, I don't think it's a good question.

For example, we have the highly-rated question Why do all SSH-RSA Keys begin with “AAAAB3NzaC1yc”?. What makes these two questions different? Well, the RSA question was first, and a simple Google search for "keys have same prefix" lists that question, so there's a question of research effort.

Also, the RSA question asks about well-known and battle-tested programs across multiple machines, whereas one could interpret the ECDSA question (which asks about a single JavaScript program) as "am I using this library correctly" - which would be off topic.

So, maybe it's off topic, and if so, I think it's the programming question reason is good enough. Even if not, the ECDSA question seems to be low effort - not enough research - so I'm fine with it just being downvoted.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the Q&A I linked to indeed isn't the best example of what I meant. (Yet, your other answer shows you understood what I was hinting at.) It just happened to be the Q&A that made me think of the close-reason itself. Anyway, I definitely agree we should be carefull so that we don't make the close-reason too broad – after all, we don't want to end up closing all questions. ;) $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 13:21

Due to the lack of community consensus during the past two weeks, things will remain unchanged.


If you'd like to broaden the scope of the close reason, I'd be OK with that, although I don't think it needs much of a change. How about:

Requests for analyzing ciphertext cryptographic data or reviewing full cryptographic designs are off-topic, as the results are rarely useful to anyone else and/or would be too long for this site.

I think we should be careful about making this close reason too much broader; it's already a little overloaded.

  • $\begingroup$ Your suggestion seems to nail it exactly. Let's wait and see if the rest of the community agrees or not… $\endgroup$
    – e-sushi
    Commented Sep 2, 2017 at 13:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I like the current formulation for being very explicit (while still covering almost all of the cases). Considering that this rule typically applies to questions whose authors don't have a huge background in cryptography, I wouldn't be surprised if somebody didn't know that ciphertext is "cryptographic data"... $\endgroup$
    – yyyyyyy
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ @yyyyyyy: that's very true. if you're against the proposal, I'd recommend downvoting this answer to make that clear. (I believe that's the recommended approach for meta, as rep does not really exist on meta) $\endgroup$
    – Reid
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ I down-voted this because "cryptographic data" sounds too vague to me. $\endgroup$
    – Aleph
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 18:09

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