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I'm new to SO, so I'm trying to understand the rating system employed here as to what's offensive content. In particular, it seems that topics related to game enhancements made through reverse engineering are offensive like shown here.

But any guidance I find on the use of the offensive flag don't seem to include that sort of thing. In fact, the accepted answer says: "The Offensive flag is meant to be used only in extreme cases, like spam, hate speech, or abuse."

Also, there is the legal aspect that might be involved, but as that topic's accepted answer says: legalities shouldn't be a factor in using the offensive flag as laws are different everywhere.

So as someone that works in the security field as a software developer, I'm kind of apprehensive about posting questions related to my field on this site, as they might randomly marked as offensive. Could anyone help clear up where that line is, since it currently seems arbitrary?

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migrated from Jul 18 '09 at 15:56

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

The question wasn't flagged "offensive", it was closed with close reason "blatantly offensive". – sth Jul 18 '09 at 20:34
@sth: Sorry for the confusion. Like I said, I'm new here and was under the impression that one led to the other. – mrduclaw Jul 19 '09 at 23:12
If you try to read the original post (…), you'll notice it's offensive to the eyes. Maybe that's why it was closed? – John Rasch Oct 3 '09 at 21:02
Just in case MrDuClaw is still in circulation, I noticed that the question was re-opened. H4cKL0rD was a wonderful username. And @JohnRasch is correct, the original question IS offensive to the eyes. – Ellie Kesselman Oct 21 '12 at 12:53
up vote 3 down vote accepted

SO is a community. If someone finds a question/answer offensive, they will flag it up. As you noted, these should only happen on extreme cases, not necessarily illegal ones (what may be illegal in one country may not be in another).

The fact is, not everyone will follow these guidelines and one persons offensive is not what someone else will think of it.

One way or another, flagged posts will be seen by the moderators who will have final say. These are really an internal SO feature, if that is what you are worried about, and will not end up with anyone else.

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Security questions that are programming related are welcome on Stack Overflow. I don't see any reason why general topics like reverse engineering should be considered offensive. As long as you're not using 133t 5p34k and asking questions about downloading scripts so you too can be a h4x0r (I mention this because I've seen it flagged, not because I anticipate that this is what you will do), I don't see why your questions about security should be flagged. Keep your questions general and don't ask how to crack specific products and you should be fine.

Just for the sake of completeness, questions about configuring your home Wi-Fi encryption are probably more suited to Super User, while questions about network security in general are more suited to Server Fault. Programming questions of all varieties are always welcome on Stack Overflow.

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With the question that I linked about the game extension, that is programming related, right? It seems that he was possibly having an issue with virtual memory mapping and needed a way, in our ASLR world, to locate specific places across different loadings. There are many programming related papers written on this very subject. I think he was general, in that he didn't specify the product, and he wasn't speaking in leet. So I guess I'm still confused since I don't see anything wrong with that post. – mrduclaw Jul 18 '09 at 16:26
@mrduclaw: I definitely don't see anything blatantly offensive about that particular post, even after reading the revision history. However, it may have been flagged as offensive based on past posts by the same user (which I'm not really in favor of, but it happens). That user has a history of posting questions that are (and I'm trying to put this as delicately as possible) beyond his ability, many of which have been removed from the system. As long as you don't gain a similar reputation, I don't think your own questions will suffer the same fate. – Bill the Lizard Jul 18 '09 at 17:40
@Bill the Lizard: Thank you for your comments. I think I got my answer: so basically, don't ask anything that I'm having trouble with, since it might be beyond my ability and cause me to get a bad reputation; instead, rely on asking questions I know the answer to. Thanks for the help :) – mrduclaw Jul 19 '09 at 23:11

There should also be a very real concern that what you are asking for information on is illegal in many jurisdictions. There is a risk that a gaming console vendor may take action (as they have been known to do) if too many details are published - and remember this is all google'able.

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Good question. Quite frankly, I learned an awful lot back in the days I used to reverse engineer save-game files. It's an activity I would encourage anybody to do.

I read the question you linked to, and I would agree that is not offensive.

This question probably belongs on metastackoverflow, and I think there should be some clearer guidance written.

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Sounds good. I didn't even know metastackoverflow existed. How can I move it there? – mrduclaw Jul 18 '09 at 15:51
Close your question as "belongs on meta" (paraphrased). Look below the tags in under the question. – Anonymous Jul 18 '09 at 15:54

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