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I saw that the following question got migrated to crypto.SE by Jeff:

https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/61330/is-modern-encryption-needlessly-complicated-migrated

I searched the meta to see if this has been discussed and if there is an agreement on migrating such questions (when, how, where, and by who) but couldn't find such a thing. Has this been discussed?


Clarification: I don't mean this specific question, but more generally what to do with mathematical and theoretical crypto questions.

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    $\begingroup$ A similar issue concerning stats.SE was discussed a few days ago, while the specific case you mention was brought up a few hours ago. $\endgroup$ – t.b. Sep 3 '11 at 5:58
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, I did say that this question should not have been migrated in the form it was migrated. I mostly posted to provide another perspective to Jeff's post. Of course, I also would like to read what the people from mathematics have to say about this migration, and migration policies in general. (And no, I will not discuss now whether it was a good idea to start the crypto site at all.) $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 3 '11 at 19:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Paŭlo, yes, I read your answer, but your reason is that votes get transfered to crypto.SE (which I agree is not a good thing) and you are fine with it if the votes were deleted (IIUC). $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 3 '11 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Paŭlo, (I didn't want to discuss that issue here either, and I wouldn't have added the update if you didn't "weigh in", but you posting a link to this discussion on crypto.SE's chat and the answers below claiming that crypto.SE is the better place to ask crypto questions forced me to explain a few things). $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 3 '11 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ "Steal" is a rather harsh word... $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Sep 3 '11 at 23:55
  • $\begingroup$ @J. M., I used the word they used themselves in the post linked, I didn't mean it as an attack anyone. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 4 '11 at 5:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Dori, please see my previous comment if you mean "steal", and even that was an if. I don't see any attacks, I was objecting to their behavior, and IMHO objecting to behavior is not a personal attack. I had explained the reason I added the update above in my reply to Paulo, and I think that part is relevant to discussion, votes here would not mean much if someone is directing users from another site to here. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 4 '11 at 5:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Dori, I can do the same thing and direct users who don't visit math.meta from another site to here and bias the votes towards my opinion but that is wrong since it means that the votes no further represent the opinion of math.SE community. The current situation of crypto.SE is relevant to this discussion because the answers from that site's moderators claim that it is better place for these questions. I would like to ask you to revert your edit or explain which part is a personal attack or not relevant to the discussion. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 4 '11 at 5:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: I didn't mean to influence the voting process here by posting my answer to the Crypto chat - this is mainly our means of communicating (between the crypto moderators, when it is not something that should be kept secret). I concur that it may have had this effect, though, and I'm sorry about this. To have a bit of counterbalance, I also posted your question to the Mathematics chat room, and asked for answers/comments. $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 4 '11 at 13:36
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That one seemed like a particularly, unusually good fit for crypto.se -- and it didn't seem that math heavy to me, either.

Realize that math.se is quite large now, on the order of 72 questions/day :

http://stackexchange.com/sites?sort=questionsperday&expand=true

... to the point that you might want to start migrating a few of your questions to the rest of the network if they are better fits elsewhere.

This is good for a few reasons:

  • it lets you concentrate on those questions which best suit your mission

  • it helps the other sites in the network grow and find audiences of their own

  • ultimately, the goal is for all (reasonable) questions to get excellent answers by putting them in front of the most interested and passionate audience for that particular topic

At this point in the site's growth, you can certainly start being a tad choosier about your questions.

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    $\begingroup$ If you want us to migrate things to other sites, why not open the path for migration votes from non-diamond users? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Sep 3 '11 at 21:40
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I can't really answer this from the Mathematics SE perspective, but I'll give a view from the Cryptography SE perspective (where I am one of the Pro Tem moderators):

  • The question is a really good fit on our cryptography site, and a prime candidate for migration. The mathematics part on it is not that heavy.

  • On the other hand, the question now has 24 votes (23 on migration), the highest answer has 58 votes. This is now the highest-voted question on Crypto SE, and by far the highest-voted answer (as far as I can see, i.e. the last 30 days) - and in the top four highest voted answers (in the last 30 days) are three from this question, with two more in the top 15.

    If these question were asked on Crypto SE, it would have got other answers, and, more importantly, the answers would have got other votes.

    Now it looks like the accepted answer would be the ultimate response, while it really is not (from my view point - no offense to Arturo).

If you migrate questions, please don't do so after they already got masses of answers and votes, do it as soon as possible.

An alternative would be to clear off the votes from such questions when migrating, so the target community would get to vote independent of the existing votes. (Of course, this seems a bit unfair to the ones which answered here and got their votes here. But we are here to make the Internet a better place, not to collect reputation, aren't we?)

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    $\begingroup$ The last paragraph would be much less of an issue once Crypto got off the ground and gain popularity. I remember there also being similar problems early in the beta days for TeX, where questions migrated from super-user or SO have an order of magnitude larger votes than "natives". $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 3 '11 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ Also, somehow I have had this impression from before that SE discourages migration to Beta sites? (Maybe I am misremembering, perhaps @Jeff can clarify.) That is why I didn't migrate the question earlier. Sorry about that. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 3 '11 at 12:18
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    $\begingroup$ Lastly, for historical purposes, I think the migration is good. Imagine two years down the line when Crypto has extablished itself. Now a user comes and has the same question. Would he check Crypto or Maths first for an answer? $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 3 '11 at 12:20
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    $\begingroup$ Jeff's comment to your answer here might be relevant. $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Sep 3 '11 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, thanks! It appeared I only remembered the first half of his comment. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 3 '11 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ +1 This is a very serious problem with the existing migration model. Until some better solution is devised, I agree that votes should be cleared in order to avoid said problems. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Sep 3 '11 at 19:45
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    $\begingroup$ Related: In this comment thread on meta.SO I had an extensive discussion with Nick Craver on the topic of votes on migrated posts. (It was about migration to TeX - LaTeX, and I was trying to convince him that retaining the votes is not a good idea.) (ping, @Bill) $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Vogt Sep 4 '11 at 8:13
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Sorry to resurrect this old topic, but as a new(ish) Crypto mod I wanted to throw in my 2 cents.

There are currently 60 questions on Math with the tag. Of those only 15 have answers. So Math.SE's answer rate for cryptography questions is 1/4. Looking at the 45 questions that have never been answered, I'm guessing well over half would be very much on topic at Crypto.SE and would have received answers there.

There are a few ways to fix this problem (the problem being a 1/4 answer rate on questions) and we might want to try a combination of them.

  1. Promote Crypto.SE on Math.SE (I'm working on this already)
  2. Migrate questions after a few days if they don't receive answers (requires a lot of intervention)
  3. Migrate most Crypto questions immediately to Crypto.SE
  4. Update the FAQ to encourage people to consider Crypto.SE for cryptography questions (there is a section in the FAQ with links to other SE sites already, just add Crypto to it).

It seems to me that 1 and 4 should be our first steps. Then if users are still not able to find answers to Crypto related questions here, we could look at 2 at first and move to 3 if necessary. To me this is all about helping the users get answers. If the answer rate for were higher, I don't think this would be an issue.

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  • $\begingroup$ With respect to 3: of course, since old questions are no longer easy to migrate, and require the hand of an SE employee, some coordination is needed... $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician May 21 '13 at 11:29
  • $\begingroup$ @J.M. I was more thinking of these applying to new questions. You are right though, old questions cannot be easily migrated. $\endgroup$ – mikeazo May 21 '13 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ Glad to see you draw attention to this. It doesn't look good. See my answer for my impression. You are welcome to try and harvest more material to Crypto.SE. Let us know, if we can help. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen May 21 '13 at 12:59
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    $\begingroup$ Note that because the migration path is not open to C.SE, this would require flags and moderators doing that manually. Therefore many people wouldn't be aware to the existence of such option. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 21 '13 at 16:10
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As another moderator pro tem on Crypto.SE I second everything Jeff and Paulo have said so far. I'd also like to make the following observations:

I think both Math.SE and Crypto have a large amount of overlap. Clearly if you're going to discuss cryptography, chances are you're using some Mathematics somewhere. The edges are more blurry when there is a lot of Mathematics involved. That said, there are different considerations in cryptography than necessarily apply in Mathematics, although the two inform each other. I guess from our point of view, a differentiating factor might be:

Would this benefit from the point of view of a Cryptographer who knows some Maths, or a Mathematician who knows some Cryptography?

Second point - I have a feeling that in general some people see the Area51 process/StackExchange sites thing as a chance to define an ontology. I personally think whilst ontologies are interesting, too much discussion and too many attempts to define a totally precise way of determining what question belongs where detracts from the overall goal of actually getting a question answered by the right people.

So this is an open invitation not to do that between Math.SE and Crypto.SE. Life really is too short. If users (including moderators) want to hop into Crypto Chat or elsewhere and ask us what we think of a given question, great, excellent. That sort of discussion is exactly what should happen. I shall also try to be present on Maths chat too. The way I see it, the two sites technically feed into each other. Anyone wanting to "get into" cryptography who doesn't necessarily have all of the background Maths might well be better asking here for some of their questions, for example. Also. we would absolutely welcome some maths users wandering over and providing feedback on our more mathematical topics. For example, Thomas's answer on my question is pretty good, but I'm always open to more involved feedback.

In summary: what should be migrated should be discussed - a set of hard and fast rules that apply to every possible scenario do not exist. This is why we have human exception handlers and voting - to make the judgement call.

I would also re-iterate Paulo's call for talking to us ASAP regarding migration, or Gilles's feature request for vote resets, for the reasons Paulo states.

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    $\begingroup$ Just a bit of a caveat: I'm the only (as far as I know) maths moderator who regularly checks the Maths chat. And unfortunately I know next to nothing about cryptography, so I am precisely the wrong person you want to ask if you want to migrate something here. That said, I will take your advice and hop over to the cypto chat to ask whether a question should be migrated your way, should that need arise. (I've done this with the physics mods before, and I think the idea is a good one.) $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Sep 3 '11 at 12:47
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This is a response to the answer from mikeazo. It is too long to fit into a comment.

Happy to see you draw attention to this. The stats I'm looking at don't look quite so gloomy, but I wouldn't say that cryptography questions are particularly well received either. As a relatively active answerer I will make a few remarks. An ongoing debate on Math.SE is how willingly should we help people asking help with their homework unless they show some effort. I have been drifting towards giving extensive hints, and trying to engage the asker to a dialogue with a view of helping them to fish. Some others have taken an even less helpful approach to people asking help with their exercises on RSA and related elementary number theory. Some even vote to close such questions. I have not found the philosopher's stone getting the askers to reciprocate. May be I'm the wrong person to teach this? May be it is a clash between the askers' expectations and what Math.SE gives? We also have plenty of people willing to give complete solutions, ready to be handed in, to similar elementary number theory questions, but for some reason they are not frequenting the questions tagged cryptography.

Mind you, my observations described in the previous paragraph obviously only apply to a fraction of the questions carrying the cryptography tag. I haven't counted whether the affected fraction is significant.

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