Sometimes I don't understand how voting works. I asked this question and got downvoted. I don't mind being downvoted, on the contrary, if my question does not meet the SE standards I think it deserves being downvoted to oblivion.

Thing is, every time I ask a question on SE I always do two things beforehand:

  1. I check to see if my question is already answered
  2. I search for similar questions to check the accepted format and see if this kind of questions is accepted by the community

i.e. This question has more than a hundred upvotes and it's basically the same question but for a different app.

So my question is, what is wrong with my question? I honestly don't mind the downvotes, I legitimately want to know what I did wrong.

Thank you.

  • 2
    This meta question may be of some assistance to you. Mar 7 '16 at 17:03
  • 6
    I am regularly wondering why I got a downvote on the various StackExchange forums. Downvotes on questions I find especially confusing most of the time. If someone is going to downvote a question, I wish they would leave a comment why! When I post what seems to be a unique and perfectly valid question, just to have it downvoted - with no comment mind you - I find that quite irritating!
    – BuvinJ
    Mar 8 '16 at 0:48

We recently had a post here called “Is (x) Secure” Question Anti-Pattern. I don't really agree with it, but the consensus is: yes, it's an anti-pattern. The answers there can likely help you.

Regarding your concrete question:

First of, it's really two questions:

  • how can I determine the security of a product
  • what is the security of specific product X

The problem with the second question is that it is hard to answer if taken exactly as phrased. The reasoning goes: How should we know if it's secure? You can't really proof the security of a complex software.

Of course, your question could also be interpreted differently: Are there known vulnerabilities in software X or have there been uncustomarily many vulnerabilities in the past? Has there been a code audit? Is software X build by security professionals? etc. If you mention these questions explicitly in your post, it might be easier for some to answer it (although as you also asked how to determine the security of a product, you might not know that this might be questions you want the answer to).

You could also put a different focus on your question, eg by asking if "military grade" has any real meaning or is only a marketing term, if it makes sense to use aes256 in this situation, etc.

If you specify what exactly you want to know, you will likely get better answers.

As to the other question: it likely got on the hot questions list and got upvoted because of that.

  • 2
    Additionally, what does "Secure" mean? There are as many possible interpretations as scenarios. You really need to specify what you would consider secure. What is the environment? What are you using it for? What type of data? What threats do you face etc?
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Mar 7 '16 at 22:21
  • @RoryAlsop I agree that more info is almost always better, and "secure" is a bit vague (the question could also shortly mention what exactly the software does). But in the case of a password manager, it's rather clear what it is used for (storing passwords). I think a good answer could easily say "audit X determined that password manager Y doesn't contain serious vulnerabilities. [...] As it stores its passwords in the cloud, it may not be appropriate for situations that require high security needs".
    – tim
    Mar 7 '16 at 22:41
  • @RoryAlsop I don't think the question needs to explicitly mention the exact security requirements the OP has (in fact, the answer to this question says that questions should not be too specific to one questioner; maybe mentioning that it is for private or corporate use, or for banking websites or casual surfing might make sense, but I don't think it's absolutely needed; otherwise the OP might need to ask X different, but very similar, questions about this software; eg can I use software X for Y? can I use it for Z? ...).
    – tim
    Mar 7 '16 at 22:42
  • Sure, but some info would be really helpful.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Mar 7 '16 at 23:07

I think there are many qualitative differences between your Splikity question and the referenced Telegram question.

Before going into specifics, let's keep in mind the tooltip that is displayed when you mouse over the down arrow for a question in the web app:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

When I look at your question, the first thing I notice is that you reference a relatively unknown service and don't provide any links. That means that everyone who is to respond will need to do a search themselves. Compare this to the Telegram question that is full of links to the products main sites as well as to specific documentation links. I feel this both shows strong research on the Telegram OP's part, as well as makes the Telegram posting more useful to future viewers.

Your question of "Is Splikity actually secure?" turns out to be really hard to answer. If you look through the main site, you'll see tons of comments asking questions like "Secure for what?" and "What is your threat model?" We just don't know how to evaluate such a question. On the other hand, the Telegram question asks "Is Telegram more secure than WhatsApp?". So the possible answers are "Yes", "No", and "Telegram is more secure in terms of A, B, C while WhatsApp is more secure in terms of X, Y, Z." IMO, that makes it a clear question.

Note that I do not think that the number of votes on the two questions is an indication of their relative quality. That's largely due to the popularity of the WhatsApp app (the WhatsApp question has nearly 1000 times more views than the Splikity one) as well as details about how StackExchange sites work (eg: @tim's guess about it becoming a "hot" question).

  • 1
    Thank you. I will take everything into consideration. I can clearly see now why my question was lacking in various areas.
    – Aventinus
    Mar 15 '16 at 9:07

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