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What should I do if a user posts sensitive information as part of a question or answer?

Every once in a while, when I am posting code to either ask or answer a question, I find myself cleaning out all the references to the company I'm working for and scanning for any other proprietary or confidential info. I figure that if I'm doing it others are doing it, and that means that occasionally, there are going to be pieces of code that we miss:

using System;

namespace HotOrNotDotCom
{
    public class Login
    {
        int timesBeforeLockout = 4;
        public Login(string username, string password)
        {

        }
    }
}

What's the right thing to do in this circumstance? If we come across something like this, should we edit the info out? Has SO ever gotten a takedown request? Has a user ever suffered as a result of posting code he or she has written as part of their work?

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marked as duplicate by casperOne May 10 '12 at 13:22

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
@casperOne Isn't the other question a duplicate of this one instead of this question being a duplicate of that one? Because this is older? –  Anish Gupta Oct 23 '12 at 9:58
1  
@AnishGupta Age doesn't always indicate priority when closing duplicates. That question is the better question, and the accepted answer better represents current thinking and guidance for this subject matter. –  casperOne Oct 23 '12 at 11:27

2 Answers 2

Even if you do edit it out, it will still be in the revision history, so it is not advisable.

Flag the post for moderator attention and recommend they delete the revision entirely.

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1  
True. See also Who has the privilege to delete a revision? –  Arjan Aug 12 '11 at 15:03
    
Note that given the recent update to Who has the privilege to delete a revision? it looks like this advice is now out of date. See my answer here or either Oded's answer or Yannis Rizos's answer to the other question for more information. –  Mark Booth Oct 23 '12 at 9:12

It seems like a combination of these would be best.

What I would suggest is:

  • If you can, edit the code to remove the offending information.
    • This won't remove it from the revision history, but will hide the information in the revision history, minimising exposure to the problem.
  • If you don't have edit privileges, flag the post for moderator attention.
    • A moderator will then know to edit out the offending information for you.
  • Even if you can edit the question/answer, flag it for moderator attention.

Note, even if you don't have edit privileges, you could submit the change to the peer review queue. Unfortunately this does draw attention to the problem in a rather more public way (i.e. everyone with edit privileges), so it might be better to just flag for the moderators attention.

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For something like this, I don't think you could be overly loud. If there is information in the revision history that, from a legal standpoint, shouldn't be there, be as noise as you can (short of calling someone on their home phone at 4AM or, depending on what hours they keep, 10AM). –  BCS Jun 28 '10 at 17:12
    
@BCS - The trick is being loud to people who can do something about it (stack exchange developers and community managers can delete revisions) while being quiet with everyone else. –  Mark Booth Oct 23 '12 at 8:45
    
Keep in mind, this is rarely done, and nearly always done as a courtesy to folks who've posted something they regret (or should regret). I've routinely refused requests that smell like attempts to censor information someone else finds... Inconvenient. –  Shog9 Oct 23 '12 at 18:55

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