I've asked this question on RE.SE and got a negative response: 4 downvotes and a note from Anton Kockkov:

This is a question for IT Security site, not for Reverse Engineering.

I see how this is on topic on IT Security, but I do not see how this is off topic here. The Reverse Engineering SE is for ...

researchers and developers who explore the principles of a system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation

So the faq says.

In this particular question, I am a developer or researcher of a system, more specific a website. I explore the principles of that system, the website, by finding out on what CMS it's based. This has to be done through analysis of its structure (the HTML and CSS code) and perhaps on some functions of the website. And exactly with that, the analysis, I need help, because I don't know how to perform the analysis.

So why exactly is this off topic?

  • You've linked to a question on Information Security, not on this site. Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 18:42
  • @Gilles I earlier asked this here, but deleted it. I asked it on IT because Anton Kochkov told me it would be on topic there.
    – user187
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 18:52
  • I think if we accept questions like What hints in machine code can point me to the compiler which was used to generate it then we should also consider questions like this one to be in scope
    – amccormack
    Commented Mar 27, 2013 at 22:25
  • The ironic thing is in another thread I see 'the community' (as mentioned in the most popular answer) expressing it's desire to remain BROAD, not split off into every little niche.
    – dyasta
    Commented Jan 25, 2017 at 20:07

3 Answers 3


Your question appears to be a borderline case. As the response on IT Security suggests, it is on-topic there. However, I wouldn't mind having your question on this site as well. The only issue would be that you might not get a response, either due to the absence of relevant expertise, or due to the (incorrect/correct) belief that it is off-topic. IIRC, you didnt get a single upvote for your question (for the same reasons probably), which is odd, as the base score is quite high at the moment.

Also, making it off-topic would actually create a larger problem of unnecessary complaints about other topics as well.

Strictly, I think it should be on-topic. In fact, you should try to get other's who may have expertise in this area to participate on this site.


I don't think it is borderline. He is reverse-engineering a web site's infrastructure just like we might reverse engineer a firmware image.

There are many add-ons for Chrome, and probably Firefox too, that can identify the known infrastructure used in a visited site. In most cases, it is pretty easy to look at the source of a site and determine what CMS it is using, if any.

Here is one such add-on for Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/builtwith-technology-prof/dapjbgnjinbpoindlpdmhochffioedbn?hl=en


Although the FAQ quote is arguably describing your question, I think the community consensus is quite clear. The skills and expertise required to reverse engineer a program, a firmware or a security chip are in very different than the expertise and knowledge needed to recognise which CMS system is used to generate HTML/CSS code. This is also evident by the lack of answers to your question here in RE.SE.

Putting semantics and phrasing aside, we're simply not the right people to ask such questions, as we tend to focus on the lowlevel (assembly, hardware, C) rather than the highlevel (HTML, PHP, Python) for the systems we research. We rarely discuss web attacks here, for instance, although it's a topic tightly close to reverse engineering and security.

Also, I would like to suggest a question involving more reverse engineering would receive a warmer welcome if presented here, but yours seems to be mostly relaying on familiarity with existing CMS systems and less of need for the common skills of a reverse engineer.

  • So people now have to 'butter us up' to get a 'warm reception'? :). I know, just joking with you.
    – dyasta
    Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 9:39

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