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This answer includes a condescending statement:

And if you don't understand the math behind what this illustration is explaining, don't try writing anything that should be cryptographically secure, because it won't be. Just put the mouse down and step away from the keyboard.

Which I found to be quite ironic since he proceeded to embarrass himself making the most egregious mistakes (eg: randomness != cryptography, among others made in the deleted comments referenced by the title).

I understand it might have sparked a flamewar, but disseminating misinformation in cryptography is a dangerous thing. Most people don't really understand crypto and he got a bunch of upvotes anyways, so I think the comments really should be there.

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Let's be clear -- He got upvotes because 1. He used an XKCD comic 2. Even if he was condescending, he was right about the danger of trying to design your own PRNG / Cryptosystem 3. He used an XKCD comic. People didn't upvote because they (we) thought he used terminology correctly, so it wasn't because people don't understand crypto that he got upvotes. –  agf Sep 20 '11 at 14:24
It was humorous, not condescending. –  Lance Roberts Sep 20 '11 at 14:34
It's not just a matter of terminology. From his comments, it is (was) clear that he doesn't understand the concepts behind cryptography, entropy and randomness. Thus, he has no business telling people what they should or should not do. –  NullUserException อ_อ Sep 20 '11 at 14:35
@agf Besides, the OP wasn't designing his own cryptosystem, he's trying to create a password generator using a cryptograhically secure PRNG. –  NullUserException อ_อ Sep 20 '11 at 14:37
For what it's worth, there's a post on IT Security SE about that particular xkcd that Jeff recently used as an example of a great question... somewhere. –  Pops Sep 20 '11 at 14:41
I agree "why randomness doesn't make cryptographically strong passwords" shows a misunderstanding of randomness / entropy, but the rest of the answer is valid -- a password made out of random printable characters is not necessarily a good password, since it's hard to remember. It doesn't really matter whether it's valid by chance or expertise -- it has the same value either way. –  agf Sep 20 '11 at 14:41
I'm tempted to edit that first statement, but I feel like now is not the right time. "XKCD has a great explanation of why what you think is a strong password might not be, and why a password made out of random characters may still be a bad password." –  agf Sep 20 '11 at 14:43
I looked at the deleted comments, and they honestly don't add anything substantial to the discourse; the current set of comments is vastly better at summarizing your key points. –  Robert Harvey Sep 20 '11 at 15:05
I've added a comment explaining what the comic is really about, and disagreeing with your comment about the closing statement. I think all the important info is again covered. –  agf Sep 20 '11 at 15:19
@agf: I hope so. If everyone feels compelled to throw their opinion in there again, the comments are just going to get nuked again. Your comment didn't really add anything that wasn't already said. –  Robert Harvey Sep 20 '11 at 15:28
@RobertHarvey This is the kind of answer that draws a lot of attention and possibly a lot of not-so-kind comments. It's almost a given that it will get out of hand. –  NullUserException อ_อ Sep 20 '11 at 15:45
All the comments should be nuked so as to start over. –  staticx Sep 20 '11 at 15:52

3 Answers 3

I didn't delete the comments, but I can see that the conversation was gathering flags and was well on its way to becoming a flamewar. Almost always in this situation the only way to prevent this is to delete the comments. We don't have much in the way of tools to repair a full out comment war.

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... until your patent-pending tool comes out of Beta, that is. A good targeted punch in the face will cool down any brawl. –  Pëkka Sep 20 '11 at 15:45

Yes, he got upvotes, but he got an equal number of downvotes (currently +9/-9), so the score on his answer is zero.

I think that's all the comment it needs. People will trust the higher voted answers; that's how this site works. I think people understand this intuitively as soon as they visit the site; we all understand the concepts of ranking and score.

Do you assume everything in every low- or zero- score answer you see is correct?

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90-18 = 72 points for an answer that's ill informed. –  NullUserException อ_อ Sep 20 '11 at 14:33
@Null Now you're talking about reputation, not about "disseminating misinformation" -- if you just don't like that he got rep for the (funny) answer, that's different from wanting to prevent future readers of the answer from absorbing "misinformation." –  agf Sep 20 '11 at 14:36
@NullUserExceptionஇ_இ: I got rep on a perl question once because I said Larry Wall is weird. stackoverflow.com/questions/1814447/… –  staticx Sep 20 '11 at 16:28

Perhaps you could have edited the comments into something less rude, that retained the warning aspects. Something like:

These concepts are vital to successful [something] because [half a sentence]. Trying to write cryptographically secure applications without understanding [noun, noun, and noun] is very unlikely to succeed.

That way people are not going to be offended but the point is going to be made.

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Null disagreed with the condescending statement, and posted comments "correcting" things in the post he thought were wrong. That's what got deleted -- not the condescending statement. –  agf Sep 20 '11 at 14:28
Well then edit them right out. I read the question as asking why they were edited out. My rule is when I see rudeness, either remove it completely - people who care enough to get the info out should care enough to write it well - or edit it to preserve the info while losing the rudeness. –  Kate Gregory Sep 20 '11 at 15:04

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