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Is there a way to encourage doctors and lawyers to chime in? September 13, 2005 6:26 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this thread as well as numerous medical and legal questions on AskMe I was wondering if there couldn't be some way of encouraging our lawyers/doctors/etc. to participate in discussions in their field. I know there's a hesitancy to provide specific details due to liability issues but some threads get bogged down in arguments over misunderstandings. Any thoughts on how this could be done or whether it's even a good idea?
posted by tommasz to Feature Requests at 6:26 AM (29 comments total)

Asking professionals to give free advice rarely goes over well.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:42 AM on September 13, 2005


And how do you encourage anyone to do anything around here? Give them brownie points?
posted by crunchland at 6:49 AM on September 13, 2005


There was a long discussion here about this -- specifically for doctors -- a while back. I'm too lazy to search for it.

And how do you encourage anyone to do anything around here?

The elusive and coveted Stan Chin Gold Star of Excellence.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:51 AM on September 13, 2005


I'll give a Plutor Grey Star of Adequacy to anyone who finds the discussion to which stavros refers.
posted by Plutor at 6:54 AM on September 13, 2005


I should rephrase: giving advice is what doctors and lawyers do for a living, so it's not just a question of giving free advice, it's a question of getting them to work for us for free. Which, as I indicated, wouldn't necessarily go over well.

To say nothing of the doctor/patient and lawyer/client implications that might arise. Giving advice, especially specific advice, especially in a public venue, could very well get them in serious professional trouble.

Disclaimer: I totally don't know what I'm talking about.

(Tagline in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . )
posted by mcwetboy at 6:59 AM on September 13, 2005


Brownie points sound a little too Slashdot to me but I hadn't really thought about the incentive side of the equation. We certainly have plenty of negative reinforcement, don't we. Still, there's the Best Answer feature, which takes care of the Recognition side of Reward and Recognition (sorry, I work in a big corporation). It shows we can do encouragement.
posted by tommasz at 7:02 AM on September 13, 2005


I think this is the doctor thread. "Where should I, a physician, draw the line at commenting on health-related posts in AskMe?"
posted by jessamyn at 7:05 AM on September 13, 2005


"I know there's a hesitancy to provide specific details due to liability issues but some threads get bogged down in arguments over misunderstandings."

This is exactly the problem. Professionals know better than to comment and everyone else pulls answers out of their ass. So maybe it's more appropriate for people to not ask those types of questions and instead contact their own laywer/doctor, etc.

On preview: Metafilter: I totally don't know what I'm talking about.
posted by greasy_skillet at 7:05 AM on September 13, 2005


Professionals know better than to comment and everyone else pulls answers out of their ass. So maybe it's more appropriate for people to not ask those types of questions and instead contact their own laywer/doctor,

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
posted by matteo at 7:14 AM on September 13, 2005


Metafilter: Tagline in 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . .
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:17 AM on September 13, 2005


i guess this would be a good time for me to tell you all that i'm actually a doctor of internal organs at a famous children’s hospital in the midwest.

oh yeah and i also own an "internet website".
posted by naxosaxur at 7:42 AM on September 13, 2005


Hooray, jessamyn!
Plutor's Grey Star of Adequacy for jessamyn
posted by Plutor at 8:09 AM on September 13, 2005


There's also this thread about lawyers.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:16 AM on September 13, 2005


I think all the MeFi doctors and lawyers should submit their pager and cell phone numbers, and they get an automated page when there's a question that relates to their field. If they don't post something helpful, they are given a time-out (for the first offense.)
posted by agropyron at 8:40 AM on September 13, 2005


I think we should brand the word "tool" on the forehead of anyone who relies on medical or legal advice from an internet message board.
posted by crunchland at 8:50 AM on September 13, 2005


I'd think any medical professional would feel duty-bound to contradict potentially life-threatening or severely damaging misinformation they come across while they're reading these sites anyway.

You know, when you see something like "My cousin Charlie told me I could safely give myself a vasectomy with an ordinary needle and thread, a couple of little C-clamps and an electric meat slicer, so I'm gonna run right out to Wal-Mart now!", you might want to reply "Don't do that!" and maybe say why not.

Otherwise I take no stand on this subject.
posted by davy at 10:25 AM on September 13, 2005


Well, I'm not a doctor (or a lawyer), but if I was I would totally give out advice for free on askme. I would do it anonymously and give disclaimers, but still. Some people just feel a compulsion to comment on everything, especially relating to their fields.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 PM on September 13, 2005


i'm a lawyer. i find it's way too much trouble to answer legal questions in ask.me or at cocktail parties or on the bus. it's much easier for me to come up with songs about psychiatric illnesses or talk about my experiences with eyebrow waxing than it is to try to figure out the legally significant facts, determine the rule of law in the specific jurisdiction, then phrase everything with the appropriate caveats which will theoretically protect me from losing my license to practise should you suddenly decide i'm your lawyer (or even rely on my advice to your detriment) and complain to my ARDC. plus, i do this all day at work; i'm not usually interested in the ask.me questions on the subject.

i could probably be tempted into answering them by a full formal disclosure of information, such as comes in a consultation, except that answering them could create an attorney-client relationship, which would reqiure we not discuss your case in a public forum. and would generally obligate you to pay me for my time and expertise.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:25 PM on September 13, 2005


It might be that they recognize it's not worth their time, given the audience. I've seen perfectly logical and lucid answers to a given question, followed by some doofus saying, "magic beans!" Everyone immediately hops on the magic beans bandwagon since they don't have the legal/medical/scientific background necessary to understand/appreciate/recognize the other answer. The thread then degenerates into a discussion of where to get the best magic beans, why Apple makes sucky magic beans, and some dumbass asking if he needs a TV to know about magic beans.
posted by forrest at 1:09 PM on September 13, 2005


Close this thread immediately. forrest is correct. Magic Beans.
posted by MrZero at 3:14 PM on September 13, 2005


I'm probably overeager about this because I just graduated, but (after consulting MeTa in the above thread) I'm perfectly happy to participate in legal discussions of a general nature that don't involve "advice." So I'm happy to, say, attempt to explain the doctrine of incorporation with respect to the Second Amendment during a discussion of Katrina, but not to answer someone's question about "my landlord did this...is that legal?"
posted by footnote at 3:44 PM on September 13, 2005


The problem isn't a lack of participation from people who are trained to answer certain AskMe questions. We have several doctors here actively responding to many of the health related questions, most notably ikkyu2, among others (including myself). Of course, given the obvious limitations of the medium, there's only so much we can say beyond some generalities. But several of us try.. And despite not being able to give any specific advice in most circumstances, in cases where I think the asker may be underestimating the need for medical evaluation, thinking maybe it's no big deal, we can and do often reinforce the need to see a doctor when we catch a warning sign others may not appreciate. This is reinforcement that a lot of people really do need..

The real problem as forrest notes, is that we have way too many people who don't know what they're talking about, weighing in with what amounts to noise in a lot of those threads.
posted by drpynchon at 3:57 PM on September 13, 2005


It might be that they recognize it's not worth their time, given the audience. I've seen perfectly logical and lucid answers to a given question, followed by some doofus saying, "magic beans!"

Heh, that happens in non-medical/legal threads too. Check out today's thread about audio speakers.
posted by rajbot at 3:59 PM on September 13, 2005


"we have way too many people who don't know what they're talking about, weighing in with what amounts to noise in a lot of those threads"

So I'd want an electric meat knife for my self-vasectomy then, eh?
posted by davy at 6:53 PM on September 13, 2005


I'd think any medical professional would feel duty-bound to contradict potentially life-threatening or severely damaging misinformation they come across while they're reading these sites anyway.

Ha. This made me laugh.

Honestly, I am just as much in love with the sound of my own text as the next overweening, pompous doctor-person, but some of these threads are so fucked that I just can't bring myself to get involved.

Hope this helps.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:52 PM on September 13, 2005


rajbot, is that a mia culpa? You are a little confusing... (I would gladly discuss the technical issues in email - check my profile)

It certainly was a trainwreck, not least because the question was completely lost in a bunch of silly spew. I should definitely learn from ikkyu2 on that score - trying to correct the off topic stuff is just ridiculous.
posted by Chuckles at 12:03 AM on September 14, 2005


magic beans!
posted by dabitch at 3:07 AM on September 14, 2005


This message sponsored by the American Magical Beans Society. Please bean responsibly.
posted by cortex at 9:18 AM on September 14, 2005


These magic beans, they vibrate?

I'm sitting at a coffe shop right now (CBTL, 10x better than Starbucks) and in this shop "magic beans" means the chocolate covered espresso beans.
posted by mystyk at 5:40 PM on September 14, 2005


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