Legal AskMe November 25, 2005 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Some of the responses in this AskMeFi thread were dangerously wrong. I understand that AskMeFi is all fun and games, but when a poster asks a legal question and then says that he has no intention of consulting a lawyer, we're walking on dangerous ground in terms of the quality of the answers.

Not sure that there's any easy solution, but it's something worth thinking about.
posted by MattD to Etiquette/Policy at 7:09 AM (11 comments total)

As far as I know using AskMe is no more dangerous (or liability-laden) than asking a stranger on the street for advice. Though, I am not a lawyer.

The best solution for erroneous information in AskMe is to calmly and non-confrontationally refute it with a strong answer backed up with evidence and references.

You can also flag answers.

But providing a strong counterargument is best of all. Just don't do it in a combatitive or accusatory manner, because that just leads to derails. For example, it's fine to point out that a specific answer is wrong, but it wouldn't be fine to take it to a personal level and call someone a big stupid head or otherwise get insulting with it.
posted by loquacious at 7:25 AM on November 25, 2005

what loquacious said (very well). what else were you expecting?
posted by andrew cooke at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2005

It's an old problem that won't go away. Some people just can't keep their mouths shut. Occasional bitching about it might be worthwhile to deter people, but nothing's going to prevent it.
posted by cribcage at 7:46 AM on November 25, 2005

I, for one, think we should just shut down the forum for liability reasons.

that, or take the advice for what it is with all the disclaimers attatched... one should presuppose every answer begins with "As I am to understand it,...".

The net of "from what I knows" coming from the plethora of non-tax-laywers builds a more complete answer.

the system worked; case closed.
posted by trinarian at 8:21 AM on November 25, 2005

If someone asks a bunch of strangers for legal advice, knowing damn well that few of the respondents are going to be actual lawyers in the field of question...they deserve what they get, really. It's not like this is or anything.
posted by cmonkey at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2005

Mmmm, yeah. Ooooh baby. Mmm now y'all got to look at subsection 487(c) of the sexy ol' Income Tax Act 1962. Now if you feast your pretty little eyes on the third paragraph, sweetcheeks, y'all notice that the definition of "dependent" for the sweet an' sexy purposes of the Act is most strictly defined - and we all know how strict the law can be, baby. But you like it strict, don'tcha honey? Ah yeah baby now let me tell you how strict it's gonna be. Oooh yeah.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:13 AM on November 25, 2005

Oh dear God, quidnunc, don't do that. Just don't. *shudders*
posted by loquacious at 10:20 AM on November 25, 2005

loquacious has got the solution, his way you get to educate the asker and the person providing wrong information.
posted by Mitheral at 10:49 AM on November 25, 2005

Not sure that there's any easy solution...

I'm not sure that you actually stated a problem. The bottom line is that the only possible way Ask Metafilter can work at all is that it be considered absolutely caveat lector. Statements that are intrinsically illegal, or immediately dangerous (such as somebody a good while ago who advised the mixture of bleach and ammonia for some dometic purpose... they were being "funny," apparently not believing that anyone would be unaware that the combination releases deadly chloring gas...) should be flagged and deleted, as well as anything that violates the (ill-defined, largely impromptu and haphazardly enforced) "rules" of posting on Metafilter/Ask Metafilter. If you disagree with something post it and provide better evidence that you are right.

You get what you pay for: one of the things you can get when you pay for information is some degree of assurance that it is correct. This dude wanted free advice on how likely it is for him to get away with dodging corporate taxes. He got about as good of advice as he deserves.
posted by nanojath at 1:34 PM on November 25, 2005

Actually, I thought most of the comments after your MeTa warning in the thread were pretty good. Lots of anecodotal stories, lots of good advice.

Just don't do it in a combatitive or accusatory manner, because that just leads to derails.

In MattD's defense, he handled the call-out in an extremely civilized manner. I wish AskMe/MeTa crossthreads were all so calm and composed.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:41 PM on November 25, 2005

I've been considering posting something along what you just wrote, C_D.

I wrote my advice before reading the thread, as the advice/guidelines stand true for any AskMe thread.

Cheers, MattD. *raises glass*
posted by loquacious at 3:50 PM on November 25, 2005

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