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How should we handle questions that are clearly trying to circumvent policy, controls, corporate firewall, terms of service, etc?

A question on breaking through an Internet access block is specifically asking how to circumvent the access controls set up by a hotel.

I would think this kind of topic should be shut down immediately, as good community citizens would want to do what is ethical and in some cases legal.

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Yes please flag profusely! That's what flagging is there for, and we look at all of them!

I can't guarantee the moderators will agree with you, but we do look at them and if enough flags appear we know it's serious.

  • Flag as what? Offensive? Spam? Or just "for moderator attention"? Superuser has only a few mods. – jtimberman Aug 25 '09 at 3:38
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    Offensive and Spam are automatic. "For moderator attention" is only visible to diamond mods. 10k+ folks can see the Offensive and Spam flags (but not who cast them), and then act accordingly. I just flagged something as spam that had a few flags on it already. – Eric Aug 25 '09 at 3:41
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    I should note that by "automatic" I mean that if a post garners 6 offensive/spam flags within 48 hours, it is deleted. – Eric Aug 25 '09 at 3:42
  • Jeff, I thought you had that "power glove" for occasions such as these. – waffles Aug 25 '09 at 4:26
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    This answer is referenced quite a lot, and I'm unsure whether this is still your (or "official") policy. I'm fairly sure we've said that anything that is not a clear call for warez is given the benefit of doubt, as long as it's a technical question. – slhck Nov 28 '12 at 18:30
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First off, is it illegal? Is it immoral?

There is an entire section of Super User devoted to breaking the TOS of hardware that I believe are perfectly legitimate questions.

I don't believe that the hotel internet question on SuperUser on Super User should have been closed. It asked a common, legitimate question that does address a concern of many people. If someone was Googling this topic, wondering if it was possible or not, hopefully they would come across the Super User question and see that it might not be the best thing to do*.

*I know it is wishfull thinking that we are going to chage these peoples opinion's, but it still is a valid point

Edit: I guess in the end I am up for questions of this kind, as long as the answer is "don't do it." I know that is kind of censoring the answers, but I do beleive there should be questions on Super User addressing issues such as these, stating that stealing wi-fi or bypassing Windows' activation is wrong (if not illegal).

  • IANAL and especially not a US one, but the Hotel Question seems illegal, as the Hotel could charge for Fraud. – Michael Stum Aug 25 '09 at 8:33
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I fullheartedly agree with joshhunt's answer. I know this is a far stretch. Yet I have been in and expect to go to countries where the country itself behaves immoral and it might be to an extent necessary for your own life's sake to circumvent official communication routes.

I would love to know whether circumventing hotel access controls will probably help preventing "the powers that are" to track me down. I'm pretty sure it won't, but many people think it does.

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As long as we spell out the Superuser policy on which TOS violations are permitted, this will be easier. I gather,

  • Circumventing Microsoft OS activations: no
  • Jailbreaking iPhones: yes
  • Stealing hotel internet: no
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    I also disagree with Jailbreaking iPhones (as much as I'd like to myself, I abide by the TOS I agreed to), but otherwise agree. – jtimberman Aug 25 '09 at 6:42
  • @jtimberman: I would agree with you, but I don't think the iPod Touch has similar TOS restrictions. (Disclaimer: I have an iPhone and would never jailbreak it for TOS and stability reasons.) – Ed Brannin Aug 26 '09 at 21:43

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