20

I know that I'll probably be down-voted to oblivion, but every time I see a Kali question on this site, it gets marked as a duplicate of this question, even when it has nothing to do with that question.

So why is Kali so hated? This is supposed to be a place where you can ask and answer questions about Linux, and Kali is a Linux distro.

And are there any ways that we can improve this system so that this happens less?

How about making the question that people are redirected to more helpful or less condescending?

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    Are you looking for anything beyond what's explained in the meta thread linked from that Kali question? – Michael Mrozek Mar 19 at 17:44
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    The questions should virtually never be closed as a duplicate of that question, because they are virtually never a duplicate of that question, but people like to do so for reasons relating to your title question (and some other reasons that Be Nice probably prohibits me from saying). – Michael Homer Mar 19 at 20:16
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    It's a good, valid question (regardless of one's position on Kali questions) so I'd be very surprised if this gets "down-voted to oblivion". – Anthony G - justice for Monica Mar 20 at 12:10
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    Relevant, given I just asked a question regarding Kali distribution and got it linked to the exact thread you've noted in your question. At this point, I lost faith in StackExchange. I have been here long enough, and I can see this is no longer a platform that enables people to ask questions no matter how big or small, and it's not a question of how much a person has done prior to asking the question, the person could have done all they could, given their level of knowledge on the subject, and you'd still get bashed for one reason or another – e.doroskevic Mar 20 at 14:33
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    @AnthonyGeoghegan people don't liked being called out on things that they do, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of those people downvoted this thread. – Sam Mar 20 at 14:41
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    In my experience, most of the Meta participants are mature, thoughtful and constructive contributors – even when discussing issues that they personally find to be frustrating. Most people have got a lot out of this site and are genuinely interested in maintaining its quality and usefulness. – Anthony G - justice for Monica Mar 20 at 17:24
  • @AnthonyGeoghegan: Remember that the voting rules are different on Meta.   If a Meta post even hints at a point of view, then it’s considered acceptable to down vote it if you disagree with the point of view, regardless of the objective quality of the post.  That said, even though I firmly support the rapid closure of naïve, low-quality Kali questions, I have not voted on this Meta question. – G-Man Says 'Reinstate Monica' Mar 21 at 15:51
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    Blame Mr. Robot. No, really. – forest Mar 23 at 6:06
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    Perhaps an edit to the tonality of that question can help. I think it's valid to tell someone that they're using the wrong tool for a job, but it should possible to do that without condescension. – Haxiel Mar 29 at 10:58
25

Many, probably most, questions on this site are extremely low quality. They show no effort, lack any useful detail, are often extremely basic, frequently trying to do things the distribution is unsuitable for, and from users who have no interest in learning or aiding others to help them learn, or some combination of those traits. That is the answer to your title question: negative associations from a number of low-quality questions from often-belligerent querents.

That has led to a general distaste for questions about it that taints even the fair questions from users who mention that they are using it. Those questions get lumped into the same bucket as soon as the tag or a hint of the distribution appears.


Your question was not a duplicate of the supposed duplicate target, and nor are almost all of the other questions closed as a duplicate of it. That question is wilfully, cartoonishly, and insultingly caricatured. It is, frankly, not a positive element of the site at this point, let alone as something to tell someone is the same as what they asked.

Closing questions as a duplicate of that question is abusive. Voting to close as a duplicate like that is just a way of saying something that wouldn't be allowed in a comment1, mediated by the system.

The questions are virtually never "why is it hard", they are "how do I X?". The questions might be unclear, they might be too broad, and they're often legitimate duplicates of on-topic questions with actual answers, but they're not duplicates of that. Votes that suggest otherwise are not good-faith acts2. At best, it's a helpful see-also, and not a duplicate; at worst, it's just people getting off on the superiority they feel from belittling people they think are beneath them. Kali questions ought to be edited, voted upon, closed, and reopened in the same manner as other questions are (which is still likely going to result in most, but not all, of them being legitimately downvoted and closed on current form).

Generally questions closed in this way don't get reopened and the users disappear. For many of the questions, that was probably always going to be the case. On the other hand, it is also hardly strange that upon receiving that sort of welcome the asker doesn't go on to edit their question to add details such that it ends up in the reopen queue. They are driven off and the site preserves its reputation as hostile, elitist, and unwelcoming.


Kali questions and question from people using Kali are in general on-topic here, though in many ways it would be preferable that they were categorically off-topic to the current situation. Regardless, each question ought to be addressed on its own merits.

It is likely that for many of the questions that are both about appropriate uses of Kali and from users who have made reasonable effort, this community doesn't have the most suitable expertise. For example, questions about using wireless hardware in non-standard ways using Linux tools are on-topic, but not something that general sysadmins and users are likely to have experience with. Those questions may languish regardless. It's not always clear which questions are in which camp and it's not unreasonable for someone to ask.

I think the "Why is Kali Linux so hard?" question is a problem in itself. Another formulation of it might be able to convey useful information, but as-is it is just an attractive nuisance and I don't think that's repairable. It certainly shouldn't be put forth as duplicate to other questions, and even less so to yours that already had an answer.


1I will bowdlerise that comment as "go away, unintelligent person"

2Users who have reached the close-vote threshold, let alone realms far beyond, are well aware that the new question does not duplicate the old and does not have the same answer, and so we know that they are not suggesting in good faith that it does. We could believe that they merely thought it would be useful related reading and used the close-vote mechanism as a way to convey the link, but as that is not the role of a close vote the action was not offered in good faith. They could have a range of motivations within that.

  • Thanks for writing this up. IYO would you prefer that we say they're off-topic and state why, as in our policy is that we do not see them as on-topic b/c that particular distro is niche to the security field and as a whole, traditionally Unix/Linux user do not typically have expertise to A'er those types of questions effectively? – slm Mar 20 at 1:03
  • I don't think it's feasible to exclude them in general, because many (most?) of the low-quality questions are in the generic vein that could apply just as much on any distribution ("how do I perform this data transformation from the shell?"), just poorly presented. The questions from people trying to use it as a desktop operating system I'm not sure about, because I don't know enough about how Kali is set up to know if that's just completely non-viable or unique at all. The specialised, expert questions are the only ones that can really be identified as a separate thing in that way. – Michael Homer Mar 20 at 1:12
  • I don't really object to a blanket ban on pragmatic grounds, it's just not really consistent. – Michael Homer Mar 20 at 1:13
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    That's kind of how we arrived at the current approach. We were backed into it b/c (1) we didn't want to close/ban them outright and (2) the gamut of Q's within "Kali" was a vein of Q's we clearly wanted to include but difficult/expensive to mine the jewel from the ore given the manpower we have on this site to devote to the effort. – slm Mar 20 at 2:16
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    @slm I am becoming more and more convinced that we should close the "Kali is hard" question so it can no longer be used as a dupe target. It was a good idea, but I agree 100% with Michael that it is being abused. – terdon Mar 26 at 19:54
  • @terdon - I agree, but what shall we do as our new game plan with dealing w/ them? – slm Mar 27 at 15:52
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    It's not clear to me that there needs to be a game plan different to other questions, which get closed, edited, and voted upon all the time, and people mostly manage to behave themselves. If there's a will to declare them off-topic with the polite mostly-fiction that the necessary security expertise to answer them isn't found here, so be it, but I do think that needs to be raised explicitly (separately). – Michael Homer Mar 28 at 1:23
  • In re the dupe target, is the "historical lock" still something you can do to more recent questions? – Michael Homer Mar 28 at 1:24
14

I'm not sure what else can be extolled about Kali questions. There was a extensive discussion about them back when @Gilles created the meta + an attempt to create a reference question to close against for questions that fit a specific type. This was that meta discussion titled: What should we do about Kali Linux questions?

@Gilles answer:

Note that I do not propose systematically closing Kali questions! Each question should be judged on its merit. But when people are clearly in way over their head and they've asked a question with the usual novice problems (unclear because they didn't explain what they were doing, they didn't copy-paste error messages, they didn't provide relevant information about their system, etc.), we could close it as a duplicate of this advice-giving question rather than letting the question rot with zero answers and zero comments or closing it as unclear.

This stated what has effectively been our policy. People adhering to it is another matter.

The entire problem with this approach has been it's left up to the discretion of the many individuals that frequent our site to try and policy this in a consistent way. Some try and deal with it as each question comes, while others see it a binary and close anything that makes the mere mention of Kali within it.

Back when we took this tact, I felt this was the best approach we could provide without completely banning Kali questions outright. There's a core group of users on this site and the toil of helping every lost soul that is trying to work through every aspect of becoming acquainted with Kali + low effort Linux question simultaneously would relegate this site to a pure help desk scenario and drive away our more adherent users.

I welcome a revisiting to this approach but it was looked at from a variety of ways then and there was really no easy solution/fix to how we opted to approach it. Perhaps a discussion may help to reinforce what the original idea/approach was trying to accomplish might help to take some of the over zealous closures?

Thanks for bringing this up.

  • What if instead of marking questions as a duplicate of the "Why is this hard" question, which extremely confuses (and can anger) people, people who asked low effort questions should be directed to the answers of the that question, where the help lies? That, or direct them towards making it a higher effort/quality question? – Sam Mar 20 at 1:47
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    @Sam - That's basically what's suppose to happen now. If low effort use one of the standard close reasons until they improve it. Basically that Dup Q has just become a lightning rod that all the trash Q's get piled on to. – slm Mar 20 at 2:12
  • @Sam - much of the time many of us were devoting to the site was being consumed by those Q's with efforts to try and clean them up and edit them into useful Q's and then the asker would either disappear w/o providing additional details or would bury whatever person was willing to help w/ a "help desk" engagement. – slm Mar 20 at 2:29
  • @Sam - to try and fix the problem 2 things would likely have to happen, we'd need more agreed buy-in from ppl on the site to help pitch-in and try and help actively sort the incoming Q's and the current Q's associated to the primary Dup Q would need to be sifted and either deleted or try to salvage. – slm Mar 20 at 2:32
  • Ok, how about making a protected post about making/editing to make a better post and about general advice or links to some general advice/help? – Sam Mar 20 at 2:51
  • (cont.) instead of directing people to a question that confuses (and can anger) people, and isn't very helpful from a quick glance. – Sam Mar 20 at 3:53
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    While there are many bad Kali questions, I tend to agree that some users react instinctively to the mention of Kali and vote-to-close without judging questions on their own merit. I came across Sam’s question in the Close Vote review queue. As the question provided sufficient detail to be answerable, I voted to keep it open and posted an answer. I later nominated it for re-opening and edited it to improve its chances of being re-opened – but not enough users voted to re-open the question. :( – Anthony G - justice for Monica Mar 20 at 10:59
12

The issue with Kali Linux is many of the questions have hardly anything to do with Kali specifically but are issues with using a tool or completing a task in Linux.

As user Michael Mrozek points out, there was a meta-thread that was created to address this problem. Largely, the solution developed in that post works. Some users are quick to close questions using the provided duplicate question, Why is Kali Linux so hard to set up? Why won't people help me?, to the detriment of some Kali Linux questions.

By associating a sometimes rather basic and/or poorly researched Linux question with Kali, a distribution for cyber security professionals who have Linux expertise, people get the impression that the post is not worth their time. They down vote, vote to close, or otherwise ignore these questions. There is further discussions as pointed out here, that show that Kali Linux attracts the wrong kind of crowd as well. We do not want to be assisting potential criminals or people who otherwise do not respect the community here on the Unix and Linux Stack Exchange.

To get to the point

The questions about Kali Linux posted to this site are typically low effort, not Kali Linux related, and poorly thought out. They are by newer users usually. They abandon the post relatively quickly, rarely responding to questions for clarification and sometimes are dog-piled by users who either do not like Kali Linux or think they are following the guidelines of the meta discussion. I say many of them are not Kali Linux related as they pertain solely to the use of a tool, involve a standard Linux task not specific to Kali such as driver installation, or the fact that the issue is on a Kali Linux system is inconsequential to the solution. If you need examples, just spend an extended period of time following the Kali Linux tag.

It may appear on the surface that this site is hostile to Kali Linux, however that is not truly the case. This site is "hostile" to low effort, poorly researched questions. We, collectively can improve our "behavior" to these questions and should be encouraging people to improve how to engage with the site. However, you need to actually read the duplicate question and the meta-post before you dismiss them as not duplicates.

That question is meant as a tool to point people in the right direction. They need to learn how to properly research their questions and how to better post to this site. And potentially realize that if their goal is learning Linux there is easier methods or if their goal is learning penetration testing there is far more information that they need to have a basic grasp of before they can even begin to use Kali.

In Conclusion

As a community we should come up with a better way of dealing with not only Kali Linux questions but all types of questions that are of lower quality. I agree that your question was likely unfairly closed but a new solution may not have prevented this.

I think there exists the need for a well formatted post that low-quality posts can be linked to that explains the need for additional context and how to better use the site, ask better questions, etc. How we go about that should be up to everyone.

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    The "Why is Kali Linux so hard to set up? Why won't people help me?" question is not actually a good question, it's mainly a big complaint about Linux and this site. People marked questions that have to do with Linux, with Kali as a spesification (see my other question on this site) as being a duplicate of the "Why won't people help me" question, when it didn't have anything to do with it. I get that a lot of questions may be duplicates, but a lot of them don't have anything to do with that one "Why is this hard" question, meaning that people don't actually get help. – Sam Mar 19 at 20:50
  • I also acknowledge that not helping people who would use Kali to do illegal/harmful activities is good, and that people who are just starting on Linux and wanting to learn how to use it shouldn't be using Kali, but does that mean that they should be immediately tagged as a duplicate? Maybe the guidelines should be clearer, but it seems that most questions that have Kali in them are shut down immediately. I think that if people don't know how to/need help solving a (general Linux) problem, they should get the same answer as if it wasn't for Kali instead of being shut down immediately. – Sam Mar 19 at 21:04
  • @Sam I agree with you. I definitely believe that there is a better solution than linking to that specific post. However, I am providing an answer to your question. It is not site policy to hate on Kali Linux questions merely policy to close perceived low quality posts. I saw your question before it was closed, that was probably unfair closing. So moving forward, we as a community, can work together to provide a better "solution" in such instances that will better assist people and lead to improved posts and answers overall. I will work on an edit for my answer to better express this. – kemotep Mar 19 at 21:57
  • Should a system to make sure/encourage high quality posts be put in place then? What kind of thing would do that? Also, is there any possible way to prevent unfair closings? – Sam Mar 19 at 22:08
9

Mr Google's fault !

Try to ask google a kali question, superuser, stackoverflow and unix & Linux (and maybe serverfault) will come as first link.

If you scroll down google's list a little more, you'll find link like doc.kali.org or forum.kali.org where you'll find many FAQs about booting/installing USB/external disk/whatever.

People who really want to install kali will navigate past first google's link, find their way to *.kali.org and follow detailed instructions given there by kali's natives. If installation goes well, or not so well, they stay in *.kali.org galaxy to ask there question and should the question be well asked there, we don't ear about it.

Gilles's generic answer is a good thing. But I agree that some are too eager to close questions as a duplicate when they shouldn't. I have no stats, but I would says 5% to 10% are wrongly closed.

This means 90% of kali questions are not good enough.

But we don't hate kali per se, it's Mr Google fault for sending the wannabes kali users here.

  • 1
    s/Google/Robot/ – forest Mar 23 at 6:10
  • Not only Google. Udemy has some courses better than other, but simply they do not scale well. Many people that does not get answers there end up here. – Rui F Ribeiro Apr 5 at 13:29
7

To begin with, Kali questions aren't hated more than questions on other topics, it is just that for some unexplainable reason many novice users pick Kali as a desktop distribution, despite the fact that Kali is a special purpose distribution (built on top of Debian). Yes, you can use Kali as a regular desktop distro; for instance, I do that - without the slightest trace of a problem - because I am too lazy to launch another Kali VM whenever I need the pentest related tools.

Now, let me counter-ask: Why is the current handling of Kali-questions a problem? I agree, this is not the nicest way to deal with this and probably not in line with the Code of Conduct which asks for answers that are inclusive, welcoming, don't make anybody feel bad etc. etc.

Yet, since the days of Usenet it is known that (a) no matter how much effort you put in it, no matter to which detail you explain, no matter how polite and patient you are, there will be always someone who will not be satisfied, and this trait seems to get worse - some kind of users seem to believe that SE entitles them to unlimited free consulting services - and (b) as was pointed out by other posters, Kali questions are empirically quite likely to have abysmal quality.

So: What added value should an "improved" treatment of Kali-related questions show? In the end, you will have no more than a nicer version of do your homework, go read the docs and leave us alone until you have proved to have some competence.

I agree, though, that a reference to the official Kali docs would be very adequate.

4

I propose a solution:

How about editing the Why is Kali Linux so hard to set up? Why won't people help me? question, to show how to properly write a question, some general help/advice, and some links to sites that would possibly be more helpful? Before now, (and before actually looking at the "why" question), it wasn't clear that that was a question set up to help people. Maybe the question could be edited to go something along the lines of:

Title: How to format your question better, and some general help

(I couldn't think of a better title, but I think that the title Why is Kali Linux so hard to set up? Why won't people help me? should definitely be changed)

Content: You have been directed here because of several possible reasons:

1: Your question wasn't very clear or wasn't written well (was a low quality post)

Suggestions or links of what to do to make it a better or clearer post

2: You have a problem, and am not sure what it is or how to explain it

Below this question is some general Kali advice that may help you with any questions/problems that you have

3: You have a question/questions that won't/can't be properly answered on Unix & Linux Stack Exchange

Here are some links to official Kali Linux forums/FAQs:

docs.kali.org; forums.kali.org; any other useful/dedicated Kali links

I think that this would greatly benefit people compared to the current redirection question of

Why is Kali Linux so hard to set up? Why won't people help me?

I've installed Kali Linux, or I'm trying to install it. Why is it so hard? Why doesn't it recognize my hardware? Why do I need to set up so many things manually? Why can't I install the applications I want to use? Why don't tutorials written for other distributions work? Help! Why won't people help me? Why is Linux so hard?

What are your opinions on this?

  • 1
    +1, something like this crossed my mind, so thanks for taking the time to write this out as a suggestion. As it stands, the phrasing on the "Why is Kali hard..." question could be nicer, IMO. (The answer is fine, though, I think). One issue here is that rephrasing it as you showed would make it less of a question, so it'd be a bit of an abuse of the Q&A format. But should that be a hard obstacle? – ilkkachu Mar 20 at 15:40
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    I appreciate the thought behind this answer, but I fear that in practice it would extend the problem we have to non-Kali questions, because the resulting question would appear to be more generic. – Stephen Kitt Mar 21 at 12:15
  • @StephenKitt what if I edited it to be more Kali specific? – Sam Mar 21 at 13:18

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