I believe that we should not use flags or close votes to enforce content that is legitimately on topic, yet has potential ethical or moral issues involved.


I am going to be perfectly honest here, I don't believe him that he is not trying to create a piece of malware or do something malicious.

On the other hand though, I am intrigued and fascinated about the ingenuity of Evil Software Developers. The more we understand how Evil Software Development works then the better equipped we are to combat such negative activity. The community as a whole is richer for having such content.

So what do you believe, do you consider questions where the OP is coming from an unethical or immoral place are justified in being closed as Not Constructive, or do you believe we have no right to judge others content by their morality?


4 Answers 4


Morality aside, I believe that this question is off topic for P.SE.

The digging into the specifics of an implementation that are not theoretical/conceptual (How to write the squares of numbers without variables in Java to demonstrate functional programming concepts) would best be on Stack Overflow.

The specifics of the investigation on the security aspects (all of circumventing, identifying programs that have circumvented, and circumventing the circumvention) of a particular operating system seems more appropriate for Security.SE.

With respect to the actual code itself, this starts getting into a realm of legality that likely should be answered by, well I don't see anyone on the SE team that appears to have a legal backing on the title.

Ask "what happens when SE is hosting code for exploiting holes in XYZ" where XYZ is any of Java, Windows Security, etc...

If someone posted the code to the java applet security hole in CodeReview.SE asking how to improve it... what then?

  • 2
    Based upon the edits maple_shaft put in, I think it's on-topic. Discussing the concepts surrounding an interminable process are most certainly on-topic. Actually writing the code to do so? Meh, not so much.
    – user53019
    Feb 15, 2013 at 20:30
  • 1
    That may be, and it does look better now (though the "What are some strategies" makes me think it moved more in the direction of "not constructive). That said, he reposted on Security.SE (which I think is on topic) and now discussing in comments of an answer various applications that have unkillable processes (something that would likely take a fair bit of time to explain what is going on).
    – user40980
    Feb 15, 2013 at 20:45

I would not judge content based on it's potential moral or ethical uses

The more we know about security loopholes, the more secure we can build our applications. Consider for example, the exact same question asked, but with the purpose of preventing such security loopholes in the first place. Then the moral/ethical argument would no longer be there, and you'll still get the exact same answers.

In addition, the OP is very correct with his comment that "when you learn cyber hacking and various exploits, it is not necessary you wants to be a black hat hacker". In fact, the US government plans to dramatically increase the size of their cyber security department, and plan on hiring many more "hackers" in the future.

Also as a side note related to that specific question, I recently wrote up an answer to a MSO question about effective ways to guide new users so they have a higher chance of becoming a contributing member of the SE communities, and one of the points there was to "Assume the best about the user, and not the worst"

The question you posted as an example is the exact sort of case I was referring to. By assuming the worst about the person (that they are only asking to create malware), you are presenting the OP with a very unfriendly welcome to the site, and it is unlikely they will stick around.

In contrast, if you assume the best (that they are merely a curious student like they say they are), they are much more likely to listen to what you say, and may potentially become a contributing member to the community in the future.

  • 1
    So, are you nominating? Feb 19, 2013 at 20:53
  • @RobertHarvey No. I meant what I said in my profile about being done with this site because of it's current direction and moderation style. A moderator is elected to help with exceptions the community can't handle, not to make big sweeping changes to the site or to push their point of view of the site onto the community. Why on earth would I want to be moderator here if I disagree with the site's direction? Besides, I'd probably get kicked off the mod team fairly fast if I had the ability to undelete and reopen with a single vote. :)
    – Rachel
    Feb 20, 2013 at 13:36
  • Technically speaking, it wasn't the moderators who made the scope change; it was SE corporate. But, as you wish. Feb 20, 2013 at 15:30
  • @RobertHarvey Yes, I didn't mean to make it sound like I thought the current or past moderators were changing the site according to their ideals. I meant that I'd be a terrible moderator here since I never agreed with the changes to the site, and I'd still be pushing to change things and would be very liberal with my reopen and undelete votes :)
    – Rachel
    Feb 20, 2013 at 15:43

I for one voted to close as NARQ because of the text I read in rev 1:

I want to create a application in VB6 which blah-blah. Is it possible to create one and how to create one.

You see, I didn't care (and still don't) if the blah blah part is OT or whatever else.

Stuff like that reads gimmecodez / do my research and means NARQ, "cannot be reasonably answered in its current form", we're not a code / research factory here.


This question is strong on Security.SE, if we have it open in programmers in exactly the same form, it's cross posting.

There is a germ of potential for this being a constructive question for programmers, but not in its current form; it is asking for specifically technical information and is cross post.

Like you've said ethical/moral questions are constructive and interesting, but if such a question isn't a good question, it'll get closed.

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