When analyzing network or security problems we are often pushed to ask details about the original problem which are more or less private.

As a practical example, this question on Ask Different VMWARE has internet, but OSX not can't receive an efficient answer without a complete TCP/IP configuration at the origin of the problem.

The risk of putting on the Stack Exchange web server such a private information depends highly on the people directly (here for example, users with fake or real names) or indirectly involved (here for example, the manager of the hotel network).

What is the best practice to ask for or to publish, more or less private or sensitive information?

1 Answer 1


Stack Exchange is built on the idea that all the information is made public (except who voted for what). They even frown on private chat rooms. Thus, the best practice for private or sensitive information is to abstain from publishing it.

Instead, what really rocks in answers is to explain diagnosis methodology and tools, so that the owner of the information can go on with solving his problem without divulging that information anywhere. In any case, if it is sensitive, then it would be unreasonable to show it to "a stranger on the Internet", however awesome his account picture may be.

Alternatively, if you want to ask for more information, then you may explain which parts of the data are sensitive and which are not, so that the asker may hide the critical elements in screenshots. Note that a typical diagnosis dialogue where the answerer repeatedly ask for further specific information is, indeed, a dialogue: thereby not appropriate for a Q&A site. Ideally, the asker should do some prior research and his question will either provide the needed information right away (with the private parts hidden), or will be a question about diagnosis methodology (which is better).

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .