I recently posted a question about methods for preventing alterations to a file or program. A short while after posting, it occurred to me that malware often tries to do that. Sure enough, when I came back, I found a response saying that it sounded like malware, and my question had been downvoted, presumably because it sounded like I was asking how to write malware. I'm not here to complain about the downvote or anything; I'd just like some clarification.

I've seen a fair few questions get downvoted heavily for asking about techniques used to write viruses, hack communications, etc. I can understand the reasoning - this site is meant to promote security and ways to keep the viruses and hackers at bay - but it seems a little... restrictive. It's also often inconsistent; refusing to explain a technique that might be used to write viruses is fair enough, but the site advertises Metasploit and similar tools in the sidebar, and users provide links to all sorts of tools when presented with the right question.

As an IT security professional, it's often helpful to know what techniques the bad guys are using. The only difference between some "hackers" and professional pen-testers is the motivation behind their actions, and what they do with the results - the techniques are often the same.

Can we get an official decision on what kind of discussions are allowed regarding techniques with black-hat applications?

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    You've had ONE downvote. People can vote (up or down) for any reason they like. You can't deduce generalities from one vote. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 20:26
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    Like I said, it's not about the downvote. I've seen this trend elsewhere; the response to my question just reminded me (not the downvote, the "this looks like malware" comment) and I decided to ask about it. Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 7:47
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    Just for the record, I was the one who answered, but I did not downvote. My answer was not about saying "you are writing malware, that's bad" but more on the lines of "what you ask is what malware writers are trying to do, and yet they never found a really efficient way which would evade antivirus; so that's probably hard to do". Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 17:12
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    In case anyone cares, I can vouch for anaximander not being an evil malware overlord :)
    – Polynomial
    Commented Sep 2, 2013 at 12:19
  • @Polynomial Being an evil malware overlord seems to have it's perks. Commented Sep 3, 2013 at 19:23

2 Answers 2


As you will see from the questions in the Related bar to the right, this topic has come up a lot. We have come to the conclusion though, similarly to yourself, that while we will close anything that looks like 'Give me teh koadz' or 'how do I hack banking website x' if it is a question relevant to a security professional and it can be answered as per Stack Exchange rules, then it can be on topic.

Have a read of those questions, especially:


Whether a question will be considered acceptable or not has a lot more to do with how it is worded than its actual topic. The general idea is that "pls explain how to hack this site" is a bad question in that any answer might possibly enlighten (a bit) the poor sod who asked the question, but not other readers -- and the whole point of having a Q&A Web site, as opposed to some hotline, is to target a large audience: the question and the answer should be interesting to more people than the unique individual who asked the question.

Malware writing techniques are on-topic. It just happens, for some reasons which may well better be left unexplored, that there is a strong correlation between questions which ask about malware writing, and very poorly written questions. Correlation does not imply causality, and that's not an exception-less law; but it explains why it may look like as if malware writing questions were inherently frowned upon.

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