I asked a question about a specific feature (CIDR-Binding) of a security tool.

It was a specific question with a specific answer about a security tool, which I was able to answer later by diving into the source code a bit.

The mods voted to close that question as off-topic.

I don't think it was closed because it had significant issues which did not make it fit for the StackExchange format.

The only mod who commented said that it was closed, "Because you are asking about a specific function of a commercial product, I think it is better asked of the vendor."

I won't link to the specific question, to avoid the "meta effect".

But I would like to know, what is the standard for which security tools we're allowed to ask about?

Are we allowed to ask about commercial security products?

If not, does that exclude tools like RedHat Security Groups, or Azure Standard LB outbound rulesets, since these are part of commercial products?

If you have an answer to this, please include examples of what you think allowed tools would be, and what you think disallowed tools would be.


Relevant other meta questions:

Can people please be a little less zealous with close votes? (I don't think we necessarily have to "Be MOAR NICE" or anything, but we should at least have some semblance of consistency)

Lets allow tool recommendations in specific circumstances (Not specifically related, but has some good context about what and what not to ask about security tools)

2 Answers 2


There is no rule which says "these tools are on topic and these are off topic."

But we do have strong rules on what type of questions are acceptable. Product recommendations are off topic on almost all of Stack Exchange, for example.

For questions which should be answered by visiting a vendor forum, such as specific support queries around faulty tools, for example, we also try and close them.

Your question is a bit different, and as you mentioned, you have tried other routes without any luck. I have added the final reopen vote.

I know sometimes it is a pain to reverse a decision, but my general view is that the community mostly keeps us right. 4 votes from existing community members is often a good sign, and mods pay attention.

  • // , '"There is no rule which says "these tools are on topic and these are off topic."' Perhaps there is no explicit rule. Sed aliquam lex non scriptum Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 1:46
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    "questions which should be answered by reading the manual" Most of the questions on stackexchange can be answered by reading varying amounts of reference material. Rather than having to dig through reference material (especially when you are not sure where to look), having specific questions answered is what gives this platform its value. We can elaborate on and/or add emphasis to certain bits of information using our experience, but that's not the only goal.
    – Luc
    Commented Jan 12, 2019 at 16:26
  • // , Well said. I'd add that the occasional encouragement to hit the reference material can lead to a more wholistic understanding of the systems involved, but I suspect that entails a bit longer "time preference" than most of us think we need to have. Accepted because of the authoritative answer with appropriate context. Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 23:57
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    I second @Luc; in my experience on security.SE, an "RTFM comment" often seems like shorthard for "I'm too lazy to look it up for you, so you'll get an answer faster if you do it yourself". An "RTFM comment + closevote" often seems like shorthand for "I'm too lazy to look it up and explain it to you, and I assume that nobody else will either". Why not leave it open on the chance that someone will drop a great answer? Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 19:29
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    Mike and Luc - agreed. I have revised that part of my answer.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 22:26

The community seems to agree with you, and your closed question already has four reopen votes. Once it hits five, your question will be automatically reopened. It can be useful to wait a bit after a question was closed because it is not uncommon for this decision to be reverted, either by a mod or the community.

  • // , It can indeed be useful to wait a bit after the question was closed; case here in point. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 1:47
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    @NathanBasanese I am dying of curiosity to know why you start almost all your posts with // , Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 19:26
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    // , Would you believe me if I said it was a long-standing bet, resulting from an argument about source control with a supervisor? Might not be wise to comment on it regardless, because it would appear on meta that I'm quite the rapscallion. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 2:09
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    @NathanBasanese don't know if you win or lose your bet. I'd just like to highlight that I made yesterday edits with a motive close to Martijn Pieters comment: "on a platform that strives to create an encyclopedia of questions and answers, such 'personal touches' are actually distractions, which is why we would remove them here.". And I've reviewed all Stack Overflow titles for //, so my edits were indiscriminately applied to all users (example).
    – Cœur
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 6:17
  • 2
    // , @Cœur Well crisis averted. But seriously thanks FWIW. I'd hazard that it's at least a minor improvement in readability. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 20:35

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