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This question got closed How can a slightly computer averse but intelligent person learn for free how to digitally sign and time stamp essays for free before self publishing? on Super User for being off-topic. Here is the question:

How can a slightly computer averse but intelligent person learn for free how to digitally sign and time stamp essays for free before self publishing?


By "computer averse" I mean computer averse/phobic/mediocre/clueless/attention-deficit.

I have got to page 28 in a free book (https://files.gpg4win.org/doc/gpg4win-compendium-en.pdf). It's roughly at the right level for me, although the difficulty seems to vary wildly with parts seeming to explain the obvious repeatedly (I don't need to the analogies to a physical safe, for example, and the lengthy descriptions of safes and keys, are a great waste of my time).

Other parts, even of the 'for novices' section, were far too dry and technical for me ("In the case of Gpg4win or other e-mail encryption programs, this concept is found in almost mirror-like fashion in S/MIME. Added to this is OpenPGP, another concept that only works this way on the Internet. S/MIME and OpenPGP have the same task: the encryption and signing of data. Both use the already familiar public key method. While there are some important differences, in the end, none of these standards offer any general advantage over another. For this reason you can use Gpg4win to use both methods." lies in wait in the 'for the novice' section. "S/MIME" and "OpenPGP" are used before having been defined, explained, or otherwise properly introduced).

It's also full of typos (See the 'Legend' on page 4, where to name just one of the many errors, 'font' is spelt 'fond').

I am wondering whether I am going about this in the right way. I don't find Windows 10 easy to find my way around, but it's what I've got installed on my computer, so I'm not even sure I shouldn't be using the command line instead.

So my question here is: what site if any would welcome this or a suitably modified version of this question?

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  • Does this answer your question? New Users and New Coders – Rubén May 26 at 15:30
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    The problem is really that most of the network isn't 'suited' for learning material recommendations - or recommendations in general. Rather than recommending a site - it might be useful to try to 'rescope' the problem into what you're trying to do, with reference to your current workflow. – Journeyman Geek May 26 at 15:33
  • Digital signatures, try here: crypto.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/signature - after reading the (?) Help for on-topic, and their meta for advice on asking better questions. - A little complex to duplicate to the computer canonical - maybe also suitable for Writing.SE . – Rob May 26 at 15:58
  • @Rob I can only ask the question on one site, am I right? – Security Every Day May 26 at 16:20
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    @Sec, that is greatly preferred; you need a good reason to ask on more than one site, and link to your other post. – Rob May 26 at 16:21
  • @Rob If there is another intelligent layman, at 'Writing', for example, who solved the exact same problem I have, that would be ideal, but if there isn't then the best experts for this topic including teaching it, maybe even to intelligent laymen, might be somewhere else, Cryptography or SO, perhaps. Would that be what you'd call a good reason? – Security Every Day May 26 at 16:32
  • @Sec, you first asked about asking on more than one site, now you are asking if the reasoning for a completely different question equally applies to a different situation. – Rob May 26 at 16:43
  • Interestingly, I looked up what tools one needs for creating personal digital signatures on pdf files around a week ago. I was pretty successful using Google, and found everything I wanted to know within 10 minutes. What search keywords did you try? – Doc Brown May 27 at 6:32
  • @DocBrown I don't remember which keywords I tried. Are you also a layman regarding computers? If so, what did you find out? – Security Every Day May 27 at 21:18
  • @SecurityEveryDay: I would not call myself "a layman regarding computers". I was looking this up for someone who asked me about digital signing for documents for a specific branch of trade, specificially in germany. I would recommend to forget about the "for free" requirement. You get what you pay for - if you want to get something simple, look for an affordable solution. Google for "pdf digital signature" (for example, gave me immediately this link helpx.adobe.com/sign/using/digital-signatures.html, and links for alternative software vendors). – Doc Brown May 28 at 5:46
  • ... Note, all you probably need is a solution for PDF files in general, assumed you are going to publish your essays in that format. – Doc Brown May 28 at 5:50
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Fundamentally, you are asking "How can I, with my specific skillset, learn how to do x?". This question is not suited for Super User, as the help page for Super User states:

Super User is for computer enthusiasts and power users. If you have a question about …

  • computer hardware,

  • computer software,

  • or

  • personal and home computer networking

    and it is not about

  • programming and software development,

  • video games or consoles,

  • websites or web services like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress,

  • electronic devices, media players, cell phones or smart phones, except insofar as they interface with your computer,

  • issues specific to corporate IT support and networks,

  • asking for a product, service or learning material recommendation,

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Your question partially fits the bolded bullet point. You are asking for a learning recommendation, which is why it was closed.

The part about you being slightly computer averse is redudant info. I would suggest you remove that entirely, as it makes your question more discussion oriented, and potentially opinion-based. Instead, you should try rewording your title to make it more oriented about the digital signing.

As for the site on which you should post it, you may want to try Writing.SE. I suggest asking on the child meta for Writing.SE, and some of the folks over there could inform you on how to revise your question to make it a little more suitable for their site.

Also, keep Software Recommendations in mind. That may be an option, but it will probably be off-topic there.

This would be the final iteration of your question:

How do I digitally sign and time stamp essays for free before self publishing?

I have got to page 28 in a free book (https://files.gpg4win.org/doc/gpg4win-compendium-en.pdf). It's roughly at the right level for me, although the difficulty seems to vary wildly with parts seeming to explain the obvious repeatedly (I don't need to the analogies to a physical safe, for example, and the lengthy descriptions of safes and keys, are a great waste of my time).

Other parts, even of the 'for novices' section, were far too dry and technical for me ("In the case of Gpg4win or other e-mail encryption programs, this concept is found in almost mirror-like fashion in S/MIME. Added to this is OpenPGP, another concept that only works this way on the Internet. S/MIME and OpenPGP have the same task: the encryption and signing of data. Both use the already familiar public key method. While there are some important differences, in the end, none of these standards offer any general advantage over another. For this reason you can use Gpg4win to use both methods." lies in wait in the 'for the novice' section. "S/MIME" and "OpenPGP" are used before having been defined, explained, or otherwise properly introduced).

It's also full of typos (See the 'Legend' on page 4, where to name just one of the many errors, 'font' is spelt 'fond').

Am I going about this the right way? And is there a defined way of doing it technically (i.e software)?

This makes it particularly oriented around the core of your question, while still including the technology aspect. Of course, you know better, so you will have to include parts of the question which may need to be included. But when you do this, make sure you don't add anything which may cause it to be opinion-based. The question should be such that it can only receive factual answers.

In any case, your question needs to be revised for it to be suitable on any site.

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  • Upvoted for making me aware of Software Recommendations. – Security Every Day May 27 at 21:30
  • @SecurityEveryDay I can see you asked your question there, you just have to see if it get's well recieved. – 10 Rep May 28 at 2:41

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