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cleartext different from plaintext?



Yes, it has a distinct use. It's a subtle distinction, but I only realized it when thinking about plaintext. Not exactly congurent. Will you revert the redirect? ww 20:12, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Would the article ever amount to more than a stub, without being mostly a reduplication of plaintext? If not, which seems likely, then it's almost certainly better off in plaintext. (What is the distinction anyway? I thought they were synonymous: [1]) — Matt 20:18, 16 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Matt, If I don't watchlist a page, I lose things. Perhaps there's a better way.
I recommend Related changes — Matt 20:07, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
And I've been following it (for which thanks again), but between the two of us (and the odd other -- strange that these aliens keep popping up isn't it?) it's too easy to lose threads even so. Ah well... ww 20:31, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Yes it would not need to be only a stub. But it need not be much of an aricle.
The difference is that plaintext has a future. It's going to be processed by some crypto system somehow, at least nominally. Cleartext ain't. And so it would be incorrect to speak of the dangers of people reading your email because it was plaintext, unless you had left it so by mistakenly not encrypting it. On the other hand, cleartext in email is always a problem.
Does this help make the distinction? I hadn't really seen it either, till I had to think about it.
ww 20:01, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
OK, I see this distinction (though I've rarely heard the word "cleartext" used; sometimes "in the clear"). But I note that you've clearly explained the concept to me in a couple of sentences; surely this can be integrated painlessly into plaintext, and doesn't require a distinct article? — Matt 20:07, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Matt, Parsimony in words and number of articles is praisworthy, but understanding in the mind of the reader must take precedence. Readers will not necessarily care about all that crypto stuff at plaintext when they get redirected. They simply want to know why all this bleating about cleartext in the discussion they've been following somewhere or other. That reader deserves a separate article (there is after all little cost to anyone) and a laudatory urge toward minimization of all notwithstanding, should get it.
Thus, in defence of Readers Everywhere, I plant my standard! Defying all who dare oppose.
Have I made a case? It might be a difference in usage depending on pond side. Actually, I suspect that might be the right of it.
ww 20:27, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
It's not really parsimony: 1) stubs are discouraged on WP; 2) to my mind, cleartext would seem to have little expansion potential beyond a stub; 3) to make cleartext more than a stub, I expect one would have to essentially duplicate content from plaintext. I appreciate your concern for the reader (it's one I share), but I don't think the reader will be advantaged here when two sentences in plaintext would suffice. Of course, it's my opinion that cleartext should remain as a redirect, but I won't stand in your way if you want to write a separate article. — Matt 20:50, 17 Apr 2004 (UTC)
OK, I've waited to see if there's other comment. In the absence of such, I've reverted and cleaned up the cleartext article, qv. ww 16:26, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)

plain text different from plaintext? put section somewhere else?


A brief tour around WP didn't turn up an article covering plain text (as in the second section of this one). There is document file format which is the obverse in some sense, but nothing quite on point. I suggest that the second section of this article be made into a plain text article and referenced from the appropriate places (eg, binary file format, text file format, document file format, file format, ....). Comments, thoughts? ww 17:52, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I suggest we merge it into Binary and text files instead. — Matt 20:20, 28 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Matt, I agree that would be a reasonable place to put it, just as this article is, I suppose. But the point of my suggestion is to allow the ordinary user to avoid cryptographic (and other, are there any?) meanings when trying to figure out what 'plain text' is; as for instance in a Web submission form instructing to 'paste in plain text here'. A redirect pointer to binary and text files would do, but would likely require the reader to wade through more than necessary (and probably than desired) to ferret out the information. Here, I think, is needed no more than a pointer to wherever this stuff ends up. Reactions? ww 16:23, 29 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Matt, Have gone ahead and tried to disentangle cleartext, plain text, and plaintext. Lots of fiddly stuff all over. I think it's done, but if you see anything.... ww 16:16, 30 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Clarification requested


"Unerased files (including any plaintexts which may have been present) will still be readable; several enterprising projects have demonstrated this recently. Perhaps the most famous was a MIT student project which found a wide variety of personal/proprietary/confidential information on discarded, and on recycled, computer equipment." it says "several", but only refers to one incident. No details or references are given about the MIT student project. Source please, along with more details. - Ta bu shi da yu 14:30, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I didn't write this originally, but I think I've found the reference, and I've hopefully now clarified it slightly. — Matt Crypto 15:33, 12 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Peter Guttman of the University of Auckland


The article by Guttman talks about data being recovered despite it being overwritten. As far as I know no one has been able to recover any data even in the lab, even with the drive density of 1990 or earlier. I think it's wrong to suggest in this wikipedia article that it's a threat considering that it's not reproducible in artificial conditions. See Can Intelligence Agencies Read Overwritten Data? A response to Gutmann. and SHSC.info wiki on Data Recovery. It seems that data recovery this way is nothing but urban legend.

Is there any —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

No, I'm not aware of any public sources on this actually happening. But legend or not, cryptography has for a long time been about protecting against "what is theoretically possible", not "what we have conclusive proof that the attacker is doing". That's like saying "no, we don't need strong cryptography because I haven't heard of anyone who is trying to crack it". -- intgr [talk] 09:48, 19 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Plaintext vs plain text


The current English Wikipedia explains "plaintext" as referring only to cryptography matters, and "plain text" as referring only to general computing matters, but is this really appropriate?

Is it possible that they are actually homonyms spelled with both "plaintext" and "plain text"? (I'm not sure.)

If so, shouldn't they be titled with parenthetical disambiguation, such as Plaintext (cryptography) and Plaintext (computing)? And in both articles, write "also spelled plain text", for example.-- (talk) 08:48, 16 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]

Or, if indeed "plaintext" more often refers to unencrypted text and "plain text" more often refers to unformatted text, then I think we should keep the current titles and state in the body of both articles that "different spelling is sometimes used, but it is generally used to mean a different thing". (talk) 09:02, 16 March 2022 (UTC)[reply]



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