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I'd like to propose putting together some kind of resource for getting started in information security. There are several use cases that I think this could address.

  • Many users try asking a "How do I get started" or "What books do you recommend" kinds of questions only for the question to be closed. This is intentional, as those kinds of subjective questions are out of scope for this website.
  • Many users attempt a question but don't have enough of an understanding to properly ask it, and attempting to answer the question would require a book of an explanation.

I feel strongly that many new users get very discouraged when they ask a poorly written question because they don't understand the technical details. While we want the site to dissuade poorly asked questions, we also want to be welcoming to those just learning the ropes.

Do we have, or can we put together, a canonical resource of getting into information security. I have a few ideas of how we could achieve this:

  • A limited set of community owned questions, with a special getting-started tag.
  • A page (or several) in the help section, describing resources to get started.
  • Blog posts. (By the way, I've been active for quite a while and I never knew there was a blog. Some additional promotion for the blog should be considered).
  • Tag Wikis. An effort would be undertaken to edit the tag wikis and add a "getting started" section.

I think there are benefits and drawbacks to all of the ideas above, but what I absolutely think is necessary is that the community have the ability to say: "I'm sorry, but this question does not show that there is enough understanding to provide a suitable answer. Please check out this resource and please feel free to come back when you have a more specific question."

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    I assume you mean "canonical", and not "resources in the shape of a cone"? :D Or perhaps you actually meant "comical"? I would get behind that. ;-) – AviD Jun 10 '15 at 8:30
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    Haha, conical like a dunce cap. It kind of works, "You asked a clearly uneducated question, please put on this cone and sit in the corner." – amccormack Jun 10 '15 at 8:34
  • ooo I like that very much. – AviD Jun 10 '15 at 8:38
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I strongly agree - in principle.

That said I'm not sure how well suited those solutions are....

  • The tag is what is commonly known as a "meta tag", which are universally abhorred on SE. And for good reason... they don't really add much to the question, nor would it really make sense to categorize these together, given that they would likely be spread over many different topics.
  • Help section could be a good idea - with pointers to either blog posts, canonical questions, or external resources - but the problem would still remain that no one reads the help center.
  • A series of "beginner" blog posts might be nice - in addition to the previous problems, we need someone to write it :-) If you are interested in writing a few of these - I'm sure that @RoryAlsop would be happy to set you up.
  • tag wikis are again a good idea, that would have little benefit even after all the effort.

Still not sure what the right solution is, but likely a combination of a few of the above: Good, solid, canonical questions with a great answer; tag wiki pointing to these (though they already have links to top questions); blog posts summarizing a set of these questions and answers; and eventually, updating the help center to point to these blog posts.
The core needs to start with the canonical questions though - both since that is the most searched, and so that the incoming noob questions can be closed as dupes of them - and thus propagate it forward.

That.... IS a lot of work, and there are many such topics that deserve the noob attention. Many of those canonical questions have already been asked and answered - it is an issue of correlating them all, though.

  • I agree that no one reads the help center (I didn't know it even existed until a few weeks ago). That said, I think its important to remember that the biggest driver to this resource would likely be hard references in response to a poorly written question. Thus, as long as the information is somewhere we can point to, it would be of value. – amccormack Jun 10 '15 at 8:41
  • True. but that is also what other questions are good for, so we can close these as dupes of those. – AviD Jun 10 '15 at 8:45

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