This question seems to be generating a fair bit of heat (e.g. flags).

I'm confused. It seems that the question has been through a few revisions on sister sites, which presumably explains why some of the answers have to do with things like passwords and bank security, neither of which is mentioned in the question. I'm not entirely sure what the OP is trying to ask, or exactly what the mild scuffle in the comments is about (and consequently I'm not sure what the appropriate moderator reaction is). Can anyone fill me in?

Edit: The oldest version of this question that I can find (on the security SE site) is the following:

Suppose a bank provides 10-digit password to customers. Of how many primes it should consist of to be the most secure?

  • $\begingroup$ I will return to this issue after a sleep. I hope mod won't waste too much time on this. Jeff's open design works perfect: people can freely see my view and Cris's view. One thing that annoys me is that the non-math-answers penetrated to Math.SO with high-scores, distracting the discussion. The key theme is primality and how to use it here, still under investigation. $\endgroup$ – hhh Feb 22 '11 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ At money.stackexchange.com is the original expanded version of the question, which elaborated on the security & trust issues further. But, it was closed & deleted at OP's request. That question mentioned security, trust, asked whether somebody could use the weakness to their benefit, and how to notify the bank of a problem. I closed as off-topic and suggested to the OP to post at security.* instead. (I chose to not migrate the question based on the warning discouraging migration between sites in public beta.) $\endgroup$ – Chris W. Rea Feb 22 '11 at 14:33
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    $\begingroup$ sorry about the mess $\endgroup$ – hhh Feb 22 '11 at 17:17

As noted in a mod flag, this question

  • started on money.stackexchange
  • was re-asked on security.stackexchange
  • migrated to here

That is a very, very bad sign. I favor deletion due to "fundamentally flawed and poorly (re)written question" unless anyone objects.

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    $\begingroup$ One of the flags actually asked for deletion. I am not sure whether this is desirable: many users have contributed answers that I do not wish to wipe out. I am considering simply closing the question, though I will wait for more input from the community (other mods should, of course, feel free to take action independently). $\endgroup$ – Akhil Mathew Feb 22 '11 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ On the one hand, I agree with Akhil that I feel bad about wiping out contributions from the users. On the other hand, following the tracing back that Akhil did, I do not see why this question was even migrated here. Considering the answers it has already received it should've been closed as off-topic at security.SE and re-asked anew here. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Feb 22 '11 at 9:40
  • $\begingroup$ @willie the other option is to radically edit the question and some of the answers to clean it up. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood Feb 22 '11 at 9:52

Some people (not me) followed the link back to where it came from, and I would now agree that it is a confused question. When it came to math.stackexchage it was a set of questions of simple mathematical fact, which could be answered without regard to the motivation. How many primes under 10^10? How many semiprimes, etc? I answered in that vein.

OP seemed to be offended by the references back to passwords and bank security, but the question was migrated here, so in that sense they are valid.

If you think this means I don't know what to do about it, you are right. I guess I would just let it pass, but that is not a strong feeling.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 I like Ross's way of doing things, just forget the junk and concentrate on important things: mathematics in the question. Thumbs up :) $\endgroup$ – hhh Feb 22 '11 at 5:33

The unrelated topics in money/security were distracting, perhaps hence ended up into Math.SO to be more specific. Chris provided a good answer but with a misunderstanding about the word bank, I initially assumed that people would consider bank with proper security measures but they did not and the tone was lecturing-and-sarcastic. So instead of solving the key mathematical problem they wasted time on trivialities, the hidden mathematical problem stayed unsolved. Then, the user Fixee noticed my intention and suggested me to rephrase the question. People became a bit chaotic after my change, downvoted it, closed it and moved it to Math.SO. I don't know whether it was due to math-phobia or due to something else but many important mathematically-oriented security-biased questions came to Math.SO (they should belong to Security.SO), a rabbit-rabbit problem at the best. You can read them now in the comments between Fixee and me. I haven't had time yet to ask them in Security.SO, firstly work to be done in Math.SO.

In Math.SO, Ross Millikan found the right words for the problem: semi-primes. In this point, security -related answers became off-topic and distracted discussion. I suggested to remove the unrelated comments in the question and some mod did it. Then, I wanted to clean the answers which did not target the problem as I planned initially with a proper bank definition. I left there notices and down-voted but it distracted more the discussion. The unrelated answers stole the attention from the important answers such as by Ross Millikan. I feel sorry for Ross and Fixii because they tried very hard to solve the core problem (or trying), not stuck to the trivial bank-definition-brute-force-attack -issue or boosting themselves with their intelligence. It was unfortunate that the question went through many sites, becoming more confused, but it is in a way understandable because it is related to all of them. The original problem originates from the scheme of my local bank (which I believe is based on semi-primality which I doubted to be a weak security measure).

But what can mods do here? I hope mods will keep topics relevant to the key site-specific-discussion i.e. primality in this case, currently. I tried (and still trying) to be loyal to the key mathematical problems which people smocked in Security.SO to be just math homework. They are not, look here, actually rather advanced. I hope we can continue to investigate deeper the mathematical issue related to this topic. I believe they can be useful after well-formulation also in Security.SO and perhaps even in Money.SO.

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    $\begingroup$ The question is still awfully phrased. Why not just ask for the number of 10 digit numbers with at most 1,2,3 prime factors, clarifying straight away, whether or not you are interested in repeated factors and whether trailing zeros are allowed? It seems like people had to pull the actual question out of your nose, putting a considerable amount of effort into trying to read your thoughts. The mathematical question aside (which is just solved with enough computing power and a straightforward loop), your conduct has been less than ideal. $\endgroup$ – Alex B. Feb 22 '11 at 6:24

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