A few days ago there was a question posted by a pupil encountering some issues due to his security hobby being wrongly perceived by his school administration.

While I easily acknowledge that the initial way the question was formulated was out-of-topic since it was a mix of social/parental/school/hacking, I reformulated it and its title to focus on a more specific problem specific to IT Security and which I encounter very regularly, which is the very wrong picture that this domain projects in people's mind, and which is the actual root cause of this pupil repetitive exclusions.

Personally, when I encounter non technical people knowing about my researches in this domain, I by far too often face strange reactions, like "Actually you just seem as a normal person, I thought people like you were all weird geeky guys!" (which might even more be a positive or negative remark depending on the initial expectation...), "I know you may not tell me, but did the government already got it touch with you?", "Hey buddy, are you sure you cannot do something to reduce my taxes", etc. There would be numerous other current examples, and I do not even mention my childhood when I was myself a pupil, "loosing my time in front of a computer".

  • This issue is real, general and not limited to schools. It affects judges having to decide about cases implying "a nasty hacker", it affects deputies voting anti-hacker laws without having a clue what they are dealing with. Even journalists may be completely phased out, just take a look at this french investigation TV show Envoyé Spécial who dedicated a program on darknets (2014) and interwied "one of the sharpest french expert" who "handles the electronic security of several companies quoted on the french stock exchanges". The link should directly bring to the interview, no need to understand french at all to find the staging plain grotesque and ridiculous: how do you reasonably expect people to take IT Security domain seriously with such an image in mind?
  • This problem is not new, I linked the Hacker Manifest in my answer which is a well known source testifying of this issue being already the same in the eighties,
  • It is not opnion-based and calls for concrete, objective solutions. I took my time to write an answer as best as I could relying on my own knowledge and experience, however I know that this answer is not complete. For instance (and it is just an example of lack I am aware of) a lot of my reading insists on the importance of building and being involved in associations dealing with computer science, IT security and related domains. It would have been really nice for instance to get some feedback from there too.
  • It concerns IT security researchers. I encountered a lot of people complaining about the wrong images in TV shows, about the wrong laws being voted, but if people from within the IT security domain do not take apart this wrong popular picture no one will do it for them.

By this post here on Meta, I just wanted to ensure that this post was correctly reviewed since I edited it after it was put on hold. If the community confirms that this question should remain closed because it is not a technical request or any other cause, I would be fine with this.

2 Answers 2


Your edit could possibly be something that is on-topic, but no answer to your summary would be useful to the OP's original question. There are so many layers of 'fail' in minds of the educators in the pupil's story, that there could be no single path to take in order to amend the mindset of those involved.

All of the points in your question here are valid, but I do not think that they are relevant to the question as asked by the OP. Communication requires a sender and a receiver and the receiver needs to be prepared to accept communication. In the story, the receiver (the school administration) shows no interest in communication coming from the parent or pupil. This lack of interest is beyond the scope of this site. No amount of well-crafted content of a communication could fix it.

On that basis (that no content could fix the communication problem), the question should remain closed.

  • 2
    While we can't help the original author, couldn't we at least reopen it so it can help other people who have similar issues (but are in a position where they can change things, as opposed to the author) ? If we completely edit out the school/parenting stuff, the question could be on topic.
    – user42178
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 13:29
  • I think that while the question itself may be too specific, the accepted answer is perfect for a more general question. I definitely don't want to see this deleted. Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:34

While I think it is an interesting problem, I think it is not ever going to be on topic here, as it is really a question about people and opinions -

How to make people who believe x believe y instead

In this instance, x is 'Hackers are bad' and y is 'hackers can be good' but it could be anything.

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