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8:33 AM
1462 days in beta - how to double the amounf of questions/day know? .. I know, manipulating the start date is the RE way :D
 
9:31 AM
I wonder what to do about questions asking to bridge the semantic gap (e.g. reverse a file format without any binary). A lot of them are highly motivated, but sometimes it boils down to wild speculations
For example, I like this answer by SYS_V reverseengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/14941/… but it is hard to dig any deeper and find a 'real' solution without any binary or specifications
 
Not bad but it's not actually an answer... and now that more info was added to the question, should the answer be edited or a new one added?
we've had a similar situation some months ago with some guy reversing an image format... there were like 30/40 edits
not sure I want to encourage stuff like this
 
I also noticed a lot of people asking this questions seem to be pretty passionate about their topic and I think this is a good thing. However, maybe we should encourage to ask follow-up questions instead of expanding the question each time
 
if we replace "re this for me, here's the spec" with "code this for me, here's the requirements" then it would have been offtopic on StackOverflow without any efforts
I would say "close as unclear" if that is available here if there's not much to go on
 
or maybe not... but it was similar
 
@HamZa the main problem it that some of this questions are rather 're this for me, I don't have a spec'
@IgorSkochinsky this is a great example how questions like this may lead to some tremendous answers
 
9:46 AM
then that's a clear "unclear what you're asking close vote"
although I can understand we don't want to scare newbies off in this small SE site
 
Yes and on the other hand, questions like these have a serious impact on the percentage of answered questions, since they often do not provide the necessary information. But I fear that even if we get more blunt in the Help Center, if will hardly be read before posting
 
not exactly the same problem but related: meta.stackexchange.com/search?q=chameleon+questions
we probably should encourage new guys to use chat more... this was a pretty good example chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/55723/…
 
The second answer proposes to use the chat more frequently in situations like this. I tend to agree since @ws did a good job there today helping to patch a binary, which could have resulted in lots of follow-ups
Its pretty sad I can't upvote ws for this :/
 
you can upvote his other answers... just don't go overboard or the system will think it's fraud and revert them
 
alright ;)
I always wondered where the term 'Mort' came up. SE meta posts often contain neat references
 
w s
10:31 AM
Thanks @Nordwald.
 
10:41 AM
btw I happen to have a 4GB NAND dump from a Walkman MP3 player I'd like to figure out but I'm not sure if I should post a question about it...
 
@IgorSkochinsky we still need more questions and I would be curious about the outcome, but I can not judge how many people may actually be able to help there (I'm not)
 
so you think I should post it?
but then if others start posting multi-GB dumps...
 
@Nordwald a random idea: take some crackme's/ctf challenges and write solutions. The Q&A should be formed as such that it fits the RE.SE Q&A model.
 
@HamZa there is already a plenthora of ctf writeups. Even though I have a team and am on some challenges, noone would really like to explain everything a tenth time
 
I see
 
10:57 AM
Even if I did, I fear that it could be quiet pointless (no one who needs to ever reads anything)
That aside, there are some efforts to build up general ressources about reverse engineering and I think its great, but this site may not be the palce for it
@IgorSkochinsky Too much information is nearly as bad as too few infos, thats true :| didn't think about that particular problem with firmware
Did somebody here try BinaryNinja? I'm tempted to buy it for some hobby work at home
I like what they already got, but I fear the developers are in over their head (especially with regard to their own IR)
 
Tried the free version. Quite neat for the price. Especially like how "smooth" it is.
 
11:14 AM
@HamZa yeah, the demo looks nice, but also awfully lacking in some aspects
 
 
1 hour later…
12:35 PM
@SYS_V I wonder what you think of questions like this reverseengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/14941/… since you tried to come up with something helpful there
 
12:49 PM
While I was digging through some of the old questions I found this one which was answered by Jason Geffner: reverseengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/12193/…
Vitaly Osipov comments "awesome work, although IMO it is better if this site does not become "do my reversing of me" site, but rather provides advice on how to tackle difficulties with reversing."
To which Geffner responds "My hope is to show people that for all these "figure out the checksum by looking at sample inputs and outputs" questions, you almost always need to reverse engineer the code itself. Expect me to point people to this answer (and this specific comment) going forward ;) "
 
That is a neat reference but hardly points out how much work there is hidden in this answer
 
@Nordwald You are right of course. What I was going to say is that based on what I have observed, it seems like it is generally more productive to analyze the program doing the encoding rather than focusing on analyzing the encoding itself. This question is like that
I provided the reference to support this opinion
 
@SYS_V typically you get not guess an encoding / encryption scheme. The only reason I hesitate to vote to close these questions is that people are often quiet passionate about them (many edits / follow ups)
I especially like the first comment to the answer ;)
 
1:07 PM
@Nordwald People may not realize how difficult cryptanalysis is and how important it is to provide as much context as they can. If people are truly interested in having their problems solved they should not withhold critical information. It's quite frustrating. In this particular question I was particularly baffled by the fact that he initially did not even say what the application was called! Getting more info should not have to be like pulling teeth
now that he provided more info I will update my post
 
Indeed its really strange he just came up with the product name. On the other hand, it is actively distributed and sold, so we (a) can not get a copy to look at and (b) may not be allowed to look at this copy. Honestly, this is more like a support question to this company
 
I agree. If the product is supported, why do the files it produces need to be manually examined? It is strange
The good news in this particular case is that new info was provided and he is not new to SE
 
1:25 PM
@SYS_V that is true but it is still much like 're the encoding of this file for me without any binary'
 
@Nordwald agreed. Its an open question as to how far anyone can get without the binary. My guess is not very far
 
1:42 PM
@IgorSkochinsky i edited my non-answer. If a real answer is posted i can simply delete it
 
2:12 PM
I doubt anyone else will bother...
 
@IgorSkochinsky imagine being stranded in a space station with only a full static copy of the internet and some data format issue... ;)
 
exactly
 
it's kinda amazing how there's xkcd for any occasion
 
for anything else, there is still commitstrip
 
@HamZa this is pure genius
 
That xkcd pic reminded me of this unanswered db forums thread from 2004 about .idx and .dat files i found yesterday dbforums.com/…
 
I'm not exactly against it but I doubt it will work here... we have pretty weak meta participation overall
 
3:30 PM
this scheme relies on interest. If no one is interested in developing and posting challenges, there won't be any challenges to solve. <- I think this is the main issue
 
3:40 PM
Would it be ok to do something like create a reversing challenge/crackme binary, put a bounty on it an then post it, announcing it as a "reversing challenge"? The point would be to increase site participation, attract new users and give a rep bump to people with lower rep that actually took the time to solve the challenge. I could post a more formal description of what Im thinking about on the meta
There are practically no malware questions asked here
answers to the challenge could be posted like this: puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/38816/…
When it comes posting challenges on the meta, we could extend the window from 1 week to 1 month for example. The implementation would be a reflection of the reality of the situation here
 
 
3 hours later…
6:45 PM
@SYS_V I'm still eagerly waiting for malware questions :D
But i must confess I hardly see a point in challenges. You can always set a bounty on a random unanswered question
 
 
2 hours later…
8:29 PM
@Nordwald the point is increasing participation with solvable challenges that are more interesting that what can be found in the graveyard of unanswerable questions here. But as Igor said, it is about interest. And who knows? maybe something like that may not benecessary. The average number of questions has increased from ~3.8 to ~4.4. Maybe this trend will continue...
 
8:45 PM
I am sure I will have questions about malware once I start analyzing some samples. I cant say when that will be, however. Probably a while
 

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