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I read this question about giving your iPhone & passcode to another person. The OP asked

What's the things the can do and what trace would be around to identify that action?

To my reading and understanding, the OP was asking a hypothetical question. Maybe that wasn't the intention but the OP has an extensive history on SE sites so I'm sure they knew what was in-scope and out-of-scope for this site.

I voted to close the question as 'too broad' because the question is so wide and encompasses so many variables that the only real answer is between 'everything' and 'nothing'. If you give your device and passcode to someone then they can do everything you can do with your device.

So I was surprised to see not one but two site mods contribute edits and an answer to this question (bmike and nimesh-neema). Nimesh even stated that it was a 'very good question' although he didn't actually fully answer the questions raised as of this writing. (no insult, nimesh, just using this as an example).

I'm struggling to understand how such a broad question would be considered on-topic for this site?

If the OP had only asked something along the lines of "For <insert app name here>, how can I trace the actions that someone with my passcode executed?", at least I would consider that a focused, specific question that can be answered. I debated editing the question down to something similar to that but decided against it on the grounds that it might violate the intent of the author.


This should go without saying but I'm going to state it anyway: I'm not trying to insult anyone associated with this question. I just trying to understand how mods and I can see a question so differently.

  • Your call on editing was a good one. It may need a heavy hand to guide it towards good and away from the rocks. – bmike May 22 at 20:23
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It’s one of those “looks really bad questions” that might really turn useful so I didn’t cast a binding vote to close on it. I don’t think I’d override a community close, though without getting consensus here.

I did edit I heavily - it should have been closed IMO when it had much of an answer in the body.

It could get some awesome crowd sourcing or it could be a dud.

It could really be a place for the community to gather, or it could fizzle out.

I’m willing to give it a shot to get off the ground at this point. You are absolutely correct that this is borderline against the rules and if too many of these are asked, they aren’t healthy and should be the exception and not the rule.

Without a great answer within a week or two, it probably should get closed is my guess, but I suspect a very good answer might be doable in a few days time.

  • Thanks for the answer and examples, bmike. I like the 'crowdsourced' aspect. Maybe having a crowdsource tag would be good for these types of questions as long as they don't devolve into Twitter polls. – fsb May 22 at 20:28
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    I can assure you @fsb if this devolves, it will get shut down. Please flag if needed or @ me or other mods if that happens or this becomes a trend for a specific user or topic. Everything here is designed to be crowdsourced, sometimes people need a hint or a big problem to undertake it, though. – bmike May 22 at 20:30
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    The two Q you cite have been turned into community wikis, which among other things also throws more light on the "crowdsourcing" aspect. May be an option for the iPhone question as well. – nohillside May 23 at 9:40
  • @nohillside I'd second that. – Nimesh Neema May 23 at 9:44
  • Isn't that a strange logic? "Close if no good A in a few days"? AFAIK "close" should prevent As (likely bad; but can be good [reversal badge]) to a bad Q. But precedence should go to: Q is bad, or not? Some good Q aren't easy to answer, some can't some just don't get an A. In other words: presence of answer is a very weak indicator of Q-quality, if at all? – LаngLаngС May 24 at 12:04
  • @LangLangC I don't follow. My point is that even though it might look bad, I personally don't think it is actually bad. But I didn't want the community to have to agree with my opinion. I did think it needed an edit and perhaps some help making a good answer better, but that's already done and already in progress. – bmike May 24 at 20:43
  • "Without a great answer within a week or two, it probably should get closed" is strange, and even stranger if you mean by that "without a good edit" (of the Q). Whether a Q is good/bad shouldn't be determined on whether there comes a good A along in a a given timeframe. – LаngLаngС May 24 at 21:33
  • It already has a good answer. I believe we judge questions for their capacity to have a good answer. The only reason for a question is to host answers, so the presence of good answers makes it easier for me to argue that a question should stay open. We should probably not over analyze this one question and have a new thread if/when we get a couple questions together and can speak in generalities and not worry too much about this one incarnation. – bmike May 24 at 21:51
  • I wonder if there’s anything good in this podcast on how to grade questions - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/328475/… - we used to have a podcast where people got together to discuss this. – bmike May 25 at 13:44
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To my reading and understanding, the OP was asking a hypothetical question

I agree that the situation could be hypothetical, but the implications are real.

I voted to close the question as 'too broad' because the question is so wide and encompasses so many variables that the only real answer is between 'everything' and 'nothing'.

I agree with your point here.

If you give your device and passcode to someone then they can do everything you can do with your device.

I agree that the question clearly appears falling under 'too broad' domain. But in my understanding, sometimes it's difficult to make a clear distinction separating 'too broad' and 'not broad'. The answer may encompass broad areas, but I felt it's possible to list down clear points of threat, which I feel is the intent of question to compile. I saw this question to be roughly similar to one like this:

Too broad to be answered, but could make up for a helpful post. I second bmike's commentary regarding crowd sourcing aspect. This exact thought was in my mind when I started answering the question.

Nimesh even stated that it was a 'very good question' although he didn't actually fully answer the questions raised as of this writing.

I have redacted that statement (even before reading this post on meta), as I felt that the statement was irrelevant as far as the answer is concerned, and was just a personal commentry. As far as the answer goes, I'd really like other answers to be posted, highliting areas that I may have missed. I would myself continue to add to it as I discover relevent points.

(no insult, nimesh, just using this as an example).

None taken :) We are all hear to build a healthy/democratic community.

I was surprised to see not one but two site mods contribute edits and an answer to this question (bmike and nimesh-neema)

I am not an elected/site moderator :), just an average Joe user like everybody else. I do remain very active at times.


The interesting aspect of the question for me is this:

What trace would be around to identify those actions?

As you can notice in the latest version of the answer, it is possible to identify certain areas where iOS plays guard, (for e.g. by asking to verify new fingerprints/facial data by entering the Apple ID password) in restricting a stranger from making impactful changes with the limited access they have to the device. Also, some loop holes were identified (such as gaining access to 3rd-party apps protected behind Touch ID/Face ID authentication).

This particular aspect of the question made it appealing to me.

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    Well said. I would quibble about the moderator part. Both you and @fsb are moderators here. There are many moderators and most are not elected. They are appointed by group vote and showing up. Both of you are highly qualified mods in my eyes. – bmike May 23 at 11:18
  • Totally agree with @bmike - your input is highly valued. Trust me, without users such as yourselves moderating, this site wouldn't exist! – Monomeeth May 23 at 11:51
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    Thanks Nimesh! I appreciate you providing this detail. The main reason I asked this question is learn more about how you and bmike saw this question and why you both responded the way you did. You've both helped me learn a bit more today and, hopefully, that will help me be a better 'citizen' mod. – fsb May 23 at 12:43

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