Buying a WoW account is against Blizzard's TOS. December 5, 2007 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Buying a WoW account is against Blizzard's TOS.

It's also lame, as gold farmers and power levelers mess up the game for everyone else. This seems like an inappropriate use of Ask.Mefi.
posted by chunking express to Etiquette/Policy at 5:08 PM (68 comments total)

I didn't know it was against the rules. As in the past conversations about what to do with "illegal" questions in Ask MeFi, we kinda take them on a case by case basis (no on asking where to download a new movie torrent, milder stuff we usually let slide). My gut feeling is that a very popular activity that is against the terms of service isn't really "illegal" or deletion-worthy.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:11 PM on December 5, 2007


So?
posted by klangklangston at 5:19 PM on December 5, 2007


flagged as who cares.
posted by Pants! at 5:27 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


So I was just curious where things like this fall, as it isn't the same as asking how to sell heroin over the internet.
posted by chunking express at 5:29 PM on December 5, 2007


i'm right next door at halo 4 with my shotgun locked and loaded, mister - DROP THAT WOW ACCOUNT NOW OR ELSE!!
posted by pyramid termite at 5:31 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Speaking of Terms of Service, way back in the early nineties I cussed in an AOL chatroom. Oh boy was that ever controversial!
posted by dersins at 5:33 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I want to know what we're going to when people refer to LEGO® bricks as "legos."
posted by grouse at 5:35 PM on December 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Terms of Service was such a big deal on AOL. Oh, the memories. Wasn't there a room monitor?
posted by Pants! at 5:36 PM on December 5, 2007


Damn, and I was just going to ask how much gold I should buy if I want to take a Level 40 trip to Cuba (PvP).
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:36 PM on December 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


felliniblank, if you do that, you'll be arrested and tortured with castro oil
posted by pyramid termite at 5:40 PM on December 5, 2007


I have reported you to AOL for asking about buying a WOW account, as it is a crime.
posted by Memo at 6:00 PM on December 5, 2007


Ah, AOL. Anyone remember dryice, etc?
posted by Krrrlson at 6:05 PM on December 5, 2007


Wow.
posted by breezeway at 6:05 PM on December 5, 2007


I think the takeaway here is that maybe not such a big deal in this case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:07 PM on December 5, 2007


You can seriously confuse "violation of terms of service" with "criminal activity"?
posted by absalom at 6:24 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


No. But you can pretend that I did and keep going with that.
posted by chunking express at 6:27 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Somehow it seems like some sort of rant against the DMCA should appear at this point, but I'm not sure how to shoehorn it in. Anyone?
posted by tkolar at 6:29 PM on December 5, 2007


it isn't the same as asking how to sell heroin over the internet

Email in profile.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:33 PM on December 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


NERRRRDDDSSS
posted by killdevil at 6:36 PM on December 5, 2007


Buying a WoW account is against Blizzard's TOS.

Ron Paul does not support your nanny state.
posted by dhammond at 6:39 PM on December 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


You are right, I am sorry. I am unusually MeTa sensitive today because I am disappointed in general that yesterday's calm was only prelude to today's madness and I fear I took it out on you.

I mean, I stand by the fact that I think that this post is unnecessary, but apologize for my dickishness.
posted by absalom at 6:40 PM on December 5, 2007


This post gives me explosive diarrhea in the shower.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 6:42 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


He should just learn to hack the game so he can have a Night Elf Mohawk. Or maybe he's not that handy with computers.
posted by Eideteker at 6:58 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Someone's in a lame guild, methinks.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:18 PM on December 5, 2007


Let him. He's just going to get screwed in the long run. They've cracked down on this pretty hardcore lately. Folks spend a grand, log in once, then get banned the next day.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:29 PM on December 5, 2007


It's not against the ToS if you're selling the actual disc with CD key. Even if it wasn't kosher, like absalom said, ToSes aren't MeFi's responsibility.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:30 PM on December 5, 2007


He's just going to get screwed in the long run. They've cracked down on this pretty hardcore lately. Folks spend a grand, log in once, then get banned the next day.

Now that's a business model.
posted by puke & cry at 7:33 PM on December 5, 2007


Shun!!!!!!!!!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:44 PM on December 5, 2007


DIDN'T YOU READ THE EULA?
posted by yeti at 7:47 PM on December 5, 2007


He didn't ask whether or not he should do it. He asked how to do it. He also seemed quite aware of the social ramifications, what with all of the caveats in the question. From what I came to understand after the "How can I get to Cuba" metatalk callout, these kinds of questions are deleted only if they could get this site in trouble somehow. This is just breaking the rules of a game.

I thought a lot of the comments in the thread broke the guidelines. I flagged the longest and most egregious, but it was overall just a mess. I know that one could blame the asker for the mess, but I personally don't. I actually think people really need to be able to ask those kinds of embarassing/taboo/whatever questions in AskMe (imo, makes a better resource). Even if they only get 2 or 3 answers because everyone else had to shut up, at least there are a couple of answers to the actual question, just in case someone else has the same question. That's the point of AskMe. I bet I could find rants against "bad people who cheat at WoW" on any WoW forum out there. Not the purpose of AskMe.
posted by Danila at 7:51 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


The "just go play on a free server" answers are the equivalent of "just go torrent it" answers for other media. I don't know if "just go torrent it" is against AskMe rules. I'm just sayin'.
posted by liet at 8:09 PM on December 5, 2007


I WANT TO BECOME THE BANKER IN MONOPOLY AND LOAN MYSELF A MILLION DOLLARS TO WIN THE GAME HOW DO I?
posted by klangklangston at 8:15 PM on December 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Do it when everyone else goes to the bathroom. And give your self hotels!
posted by Pants! at 8:26 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Traditionally, the key is to create a large percentage of monetary transactions which involve yourself. If the vast majority are on the level, an occasional "slip" of several thousand dollars is virtually undetectable.

To step from thousands to millions, however, requires increasing your spending (not necessarily cash in hand, as the bank has nowhere near a million dollars) in a way that is too confusing for the average player to completely break down where the investment capital is coming from even when directly explained...

The key: Mortgages.

Create false cash by mortgaging properties in order to pay for upgrades and make deals for other properties. By creating a complex enough web, you can then physically and slyly flip occasional properties out of the mortgage status while feeding cash made from your upgraded real estate holdings back into lower value mortgages.

This is how it gets done in the real world as well. But do not try in the World of Warcraft, that is a fascist police state like none I have ever seen.
posted by pokermonk at 9:50 PM on December 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


The "just go play on a free server" answers are the equivalent of "just go torrent it" answers for other media. I don't know if "just go torrent it" is against AskMe rules. I'm just sayin'.

Well, except for the fact that it doesn't violate copyright law to play on other servers.
posted by delmoi at 10:57 PM on December 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Danila He didn't ask whether or not he should do it. He asked how to do it. He also seemed quite aware of the social ramifications, what with all of the caveats in the question.

I totally disagree. It's the sort of question that a person aware of the social ramifications simply wouldn't ask. There is no way to answer him correctly without incidentally telling him not to do it. He simply can't get what he wants to get by that method, and that is the problem I have with it, not the legality or otherwise of Blizzard's TOS.

If the answer cannot be provided, I think it's reasonable to explain why what is asked for is impossible.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:13 PM on December 5, 2007


liet The "just go play on a free server" answers are the equivalent of "just go torrent it" answers for other media.

Not exactly, there's a meaningful difference here. He can't do what he wants to do, ie play WoW, have fun, be taken seriously (I mean at the "fellow human being" level of seriously, not the "that's a great point" level of seriously), play the game properly, on the legitimate Blizzard servers with an ebayed character. The experience he wants is not obtainable on a legitimate server, but might be obtainable on a pirate server.

I download a movie or if I watch it on DVD, the experience is identical for my purposes. If he plays WoW for real or plays it on a pirate server, the experience will be quite different.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:42 PM on December 5, 2007


Where does he say anything about wanting to "be taken seriously" or "play the game properly"?
It seems to me he explicitly says he doesn't care about either of these issues.
posted by signal at 5:28 AM on December 6, 2007


I thought this thread was almost a candidate for the sidebar, violation of ToS or not. For a non-MMOGer the answers were really interesting, and about a topic that has been of increasing interest even in the mainstream media.
posted by roofus at 7:18 AM on December 6, 2007


It's also lame, as gold farmers and power levelers mess up the game for everyone else. This seems like an inappropriate use of Ask.Mefi.

Funny, because I kind of feel like consumerism is lame, because it messes up the world for everyone else. Even andrew cooke never went as far as to suggest gadget questions were an inappropriate use of AskMe though - at least I don't think he did..
posted by Chuckles at 8:46 AM on December 6, 2007


ha, your pastime is nerdy and therefore deserving of my scorn!
posted by shmegegge at 9:25 AM on December 6, 2007


Of course this question can be answered. It was, at length. I even gave him a link to a powerleveling service.

Nothing that was suggested was illegal, and the fact that Blizzard doesn't like this activity isn't a reason to pull the question.

He was warned about the potential consequences, and he's an adult and can decide for himself from there.

As I expressed, I think he'd be dumb to do this, but that's his problem, not mine.
posted by Malor at 9:27 AM on December 6, 2007


I dislike the question because he's asking us for help cheating other people, not just against a machine. It's not a "teach me how to cheat in vegas" question, it's a "teach me how to cheat my friends at friday night poker" question, and that just seems icky.
Utimately, I say we let the question stand, because his actions will reap their own reward. It'll be painfully obvious to anyone he plays with, that he didn't level up himself, and he will be socialized accordingly.
posted by nomisxid at 9:30 AM on December 6, 2007


we're allowed to ask how to cheat at vegas?
posted by shmegegge at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2007


You know who else was against the WoW terms of service?
posted by blue_beetle at 9:51 AM on December 6, 2007


he's asking us for help cheating other people

I don't see this.... to cheat other people, they would have to lose something that he would gain.

How is buying a WoW character cheating anyone? They still have all the stuff they always did; they lose nothing.
posted by Malor at 10:03 AM on December 6, 2007


Now that that's a business model.

Fixed that for you.

SOLID AS A ROCK!
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2007


Malor,
There are a couple of potential 'harms' I can see coming out of it. If he's a shmuck, he can take his high level char out and spend his time griefing people who're trying to level up their chars the honest way. Then there's the whole aspect of hyperinflation caused by people for whom wow-gold doesn't represent any time investment, in auction house competition with people who spent their time to earn their gold. Plus there's the fact that he's going to be giving money to someone who spams in game, etc etc.
Like I said before, it'll work out as well for him in the long run, as it did for cartman trying to cheat in the special olympics, but just cause he's going to make a fool out of himself doesn't mean it wasn't also the wrong thing to do.
posted by nomisxid at 11:11 AM on December 6, 2007


GRIEF IS NOT A VERB GOD DAMN IT!

And while we're at it, neither is "gift."
posted by dersins at 11:16 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


dersins, you're so 20th century quaint =p And dictionary.com says the verb form of gift has been valid since 1125.
posted by nomisxid at 11:21 AM on December 6, 2007


I like to hang out at marketing firms and grief the creative.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:23 AM on December 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


He simply can't get what he wants to get by that method, and that is the problem I have with it, not the legality or otherwise of Blizzard's TOS.

What he wants to get is, in his words, "the most badass" character he can buy. That's it. You don't know anything beyond that, and that question is answerable. Surely there will be other people who have the same question (as the thread revealed, this is a known practice), and with less thread-crapping they'd have the answer. What they want to do with it is their business and was not in the scope of his question.

I'm not necessarily against the assumptions people often make when answering AskMe questions. I know this debate has been had many times before. But in this case, the question was specific, asking for something material (he wasn't asking for advice) and while you may find it reprehensible and/or pointless, that still has nothing to do with answering the question.
posted by Danila at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2007


So,Is "How do I burn a copy of Microsoft Office" a valid Askme Question?

Piracy questions are banned because they violate the license of the product.

Powerleveling and buying gold violated the EULA and TOS of the software the asker wants to buy.

They are the same.
posted by Megafly at 1:06 PM on December 6, 2007


"Piracy questions are banned because they violate the license of the product."

RONG.
posted by klangklangston at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2007


Piracy questions are banned because they violate the license of the product.

No, that's not it.
posted by grouse at 1:46 PM on December 6, 2007


"What he wants to get is, in his words, "the most badass" character he can buy. That's it. You don't know anything beyond that..."

Actually, we do know things beyond that. We know that he wants to play PvP, and we know that PvP in WoW will require some amount of group play. We also know he's a WoW n00b, and that people who've reached level 70 through legitimate means will have no patience for his n00b-ness, will refuse to group with him, and will advise others not to group with him -- which means he won't be able to get what he ultimately wants.

So what should we do if someone asks a question that's answerable, but we know the answer won't get them the desired outcome? Imagine someone asks, "Where can I buy a large block of cement that I can chain to my legs? I need it so I can learn to swim." Do we tell them where to buy cement, or should we maybe mention that cement isn't going to help you swim?

Some people would be happy to chain them to a block of cement and toss them in a swimming pool, but I don't think that's the most helpful answer, even if it's what they asked for.
posted by CrayDrygu at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2007


What he wants to get is, in his words, "the most badass" character he can buy. That's it. You don't know anything beyond that, and that question is answerable.

No, actually it is not answerable - this is the point I am trying to make here. There is no "most badass" character. If he wants to put up actual criteria, sure, we can answer that. But whatever he buys will become no longer badass, rendered so by the circumstances of his acquiring it.

while you may find it reprehensible and/or pointless

It's irrelevant what I find it. He won't be playing the game with, or anywhere near, me. My point is about how WoW players generally will react to him. Can you see how the quality of his game experience will be determined by the actions of the people he will be playing with?

Here's an analogy. Assume someone posts the question: "Yes I know it is totally lame to buy assignments. Don't Care. I want to buy the most bad ass English essay possible. Getting an "A+ Well Done!" on an English essay is a present to myself for finishing a 10 year long project. Anyway, how do I go about doing this, how do I evaluate the bad ass-ness of an essay? I'm willing to spend thousands of dollars. Yes yes yes, I know it is lame. Whatever. English class looks pretty cool and I'd like to get a high mark for it no matter how lame."

(I know "WoW isn't English class" and "Learning English is important, people spend thousands of hours on it" and "Textual analysis will get a person far in life, how dare you denigrate it by comparing it to raid healing skills". Yes. That's true. Don't care. Analogy. [By the way, anyone find this kind of off-hand dismissal of concerns directly pertinent to the matter at hand just a little bit provoking? Anyone?])

So, let's say the guy asks that question. Plagiarism isn't actually illegal, it's just penalized heavily by educational institutions, and generally looked down on by anyone, y'know, smart. (My analogy is a bit shaky there; the social response to plagiarism by fellow students is far, far less hostile than the social response to account-buying by MMO players.) Now by your logic, Danila, discussion of the idea of plagiarism, the social environment of the institution, the possible academic penalties, the potential waste of "thousands of dollars", is all so much irrelevant thread-crapping. What the guy needs to be told is "Well, the most badass essays are the ones that show, in a sarcastic yet amusing manner, a clear understanding of the source material. By which I mean, if the essay is about perceived authority in narrative flow ... and if the essay is about color as a metaphor for social mood ... and if the essay is about class-based perception of participative democracy ... or you can just count the number of Z's in it and multiply by six, then add the square root of the wordcount." The consequences of his plagiarism? His business. What he wants is a means of assessing the objective badass-ness of an English essay, and that's what he should get.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:59 PM on December 6, 2007


Is "How do I burn a copy of Microsoft Office" a valid Askme Question?

Why not? Pretty easy one to answer, though.

a little kerosene, a couple matches, and WHOOOMP...
posted by dersins at 2:00 PM on December 6, 2007


GRIEF IS NOT A VERB GOD DAMN IT!

And while we're at it, neither is "gift."


You know what else isn't a verb? "Concept." I used to work at a marketing firm where they would have these brainstorming meetings, only they didn't call it brainstorming, they called it concepting. As in, "I can't have lunch until later because I have to go concept."

At least that's what they called it until I killed everyone in a fit of English-majorly rage.
posted by bluishorange at 2:07 PM on December 6, 2007


we're allowed to ask how to cheat at vegas?

Cheating at vagas is a crime

So,Is "How do I burn a copy of Microsoft Office" a valid Askme Question?

Burning Microsoft office is a tort, for which you can (in theory) be sued.

Powerleveling and buying gold violated the EULA and TOS of the software the asker wants to buy.

Powerleveling is annoying.

See the difference? Some questions are banned because they are against the actual law, not laws big corporations wish existed but don't.

That's like saying because college rules ban both date rape and plagiarism, giving advice on plagiarism is morally equivalent to giving advice on how to commit date rape. Both are against the rules and could get you expelled. (I'm not advocating plagiarism, that was just the first example I could come up with)
posted by delmoi at 3:08 PM on December 6, 2007


Actually, we do know things beyond that. We know that he wants to play PvP, and we know that PvP in WoW will require some amount of group play. We also know he's a WoW n00b, and that people who've reached level 70 through legitimate means will have no patience for his n00b-ness, will refuse to group with him, and will advise others not to group with him -- which means he won't be able to get what he ultimately wants.

You don't know any of these things, that's what I'm saying. The question contains no information regarding his ultimate wants. Just that he wants a fully-loaded level 70 character to play with. His playing experience may very well end badly...but he doesn't ask for help with that. He wants to play it his way, and since it was clear he knew his wasn't the only or most recommended way to play, I don't see how any more is relevant. Who cares if people will have no patience? Answering the question exactly will get him what he asked for....a fully loaded level 70 character. He may not be able to play it beyond a day, but he got it.

Here's an analogy. Assume someone posts the question: "Yes I know it is totally lame to buy assignments. Don't Care. I want to buy the most bad ass English essay possible. Getting an "A+ Well Done!" on an English essay is a present to myself for finishing a 10 year long project. Anyway, how do I go about doing this, how do I evaluate the bad ass-ness of an essay? I'm willing to spend thousands of dollars. Yes yes yes, I know it is lame. Whatever. English class looks pretty cool and I'd like to get a high mark for it no matter how lame."


I don't have a problem with the use of analogies and no I'm not trying to provoke you simply by disagreeing with you.

My response to this: In this case, it would be relevant to point out that the person will not be getting an "A+ well done", because he'll probably be caught. So he won't get what he explicitly wants. The social ramifications and whatnot, surely that can be brought to Metatalk.

But in this case, and I say the same to Cray's cement block analogy, all the asker asks for is where can he get the character (essay, cement block). The character is the gift to himself, not whatever results you assume he's looking for. If someone asks where they can get a cement block to chain to their legs, without telling you what else they plan to do with it, answer the question (they might need it for a costume party, a practical joke, etc).

All he wanted was a great character to start with in WOW. Now of course, as many pointed out, it might not last very long for a variety of reasons. I have no problem with pointing that out, because it addresses his specific question. Also have no problem with pointing out the "social ramifications", so long as you also answer the question directly when doing so. What I am objecting to are comments that heap scorn, tell him why he's wrong to want it, without telling him where to get what he wants, i.e. NOT ANSWERING THE QUESTION.
posted by Danila at 8:16 PM on December 6, 2007


I don't have a problem with the use of analogies and no I'm not trying to provoke you simply by disagreeing with you.

Not you, the OP. Also, I don't think we disagree so much.

Fair enough. Anyone interested in buying WoW characters may discover means of doing so through a simple google search for the terms: "buy wow character". This will bring up dozens of websites whose proprietors will gladly say they will perform this transaction. Once you know the name and realm of a character purportedly for sale you may assess the "badass-ness" of that character through the following easy means: (1) go to armory.worldofwarcraft.com; (2) enter the name of the character and if there are more than one with that name, select the realm on which the character resides; (3) look at the character's level, if it's "70", squeal with joy; (4) mouse over the character's gear, if it's all purple and blue, it's probably quite badass enough for your purposes. If the gear names match a certain pattern, eg "Sticklike Forearms of the Bored Putz", "Sticklike Legs of the Bored Putz", "Fat Belly of the Bored Putz" etc, there will usually be an indicator for extra special abilities for having multiple parts of the set. This shows up the most badass-ness of all.

Now if I had posted that in answer to the thread, you may think I was being more helpful, but I would honestly believe that I was being very much less helpful than I was. Which of us is right is a matter of perspective.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:59 PM on December 6, 2007


You don't know any of these things, that's what I'm saying.

Actually Danila, if you read the thread you'd know the OP popped back in later to say that he wanted to PVP.

OH SNAP.
posted by chunking express at 6:34 AM on December 7, 2007


delmoi: See the difference? Some questions are banned because they are against the actual law,

Can a question be against the law?
Some questions are banned because they could get the site in trouble.
posted by signal at 7:07 AM on December 7, 2007


Danila: "You don't know any of these things, that's what I'm saying."

Oh, I know what you're saying. But I'm more interested in what Bob Dobbs is saying.

Bob Dobbs: "I'm more interested in PVP."

Now where were we?
posted by CrayDrygu at 10:04 AM on December 7, 2007


For some reason I'm really digging the idea that the quality of text goes linear with the number of Z's, but only as the root of the wordcount.

(Not really) a PonyRequest: aeschenkarnos Z-score next to every thread.

Well, now that I think about it, as a stupid metric it actually could be fun to look at size(gzip(thread))/size(thread). Pure random would have a score of 1, but maximal redundancy would have a score approaching 0. I wonder what the distribution looks like. I'd like to imagine that "quality" is correlated with the amount of information required to describe the content, but this clearly breaks down as we approach random. (I'm sure there are all sorts of clever, but sometimes it's fun to look at stupid.)

Oh, irrelevant to the subject at hand?
Okay, I put on my robe and wizard hat.

*shrug* Who wants to play a game where net worth entitles one to power and status not readily available to those without... (heh)

Fair question for ask mf, and yes it seems like a crappy thing to do with those "thousands" of dollars, and no telling them that it's a crappy thing to do doesn't answer their question. (But there's lots of crappy things one can do with thousands of dollars, so, yeah, stupid metrics for thread scoring.)
posted by johnjoe at 10:17 AM on December 7, 2007


I know the OP made additional comments because some people actually asked for clarifying information, rather then make judgements. He said he wants PVP in response to a direct question from Barmicide, and I want to note I am not having an issue with clarifying questions. He then ended up asking quite a few questions beyond his original question and this affected some of the later answers.

He also expressed his disappointment with all of the people who were taking this personally. I didn't bring that comment up either, because my issue is how people were answering his question. The fact that he supplied additional information (while asking more and more questions) is irrelevant with regard to many of the non-answers he received (and continued to receive).

Three of the first five responses are neither answers nor requests for more information, including the very first answer. They're just opinions and judgements of the OP's behavior, how it affects others (which the OP never indicated was a concern of his, and this includes his later comments), and a question about why people would even want to do such a thing.

Suppose I were to ask for information on where I could buy a fancy leatherbound Bible with the option to have a name inscribed for under $20. Judgements on my decision to buy such a Bible, questions about why someone could possibly want to buy a Bible, and lectures on how Bibles have hurt others and reading it would hurt me too would not be answers. Suggestions of secularist literature or "Read God Is Not Great" instead would be answers, but not answers to the question, and they shouldn't be there. Assumptions about why I want the Bible may very well be made, but they shouldn't be posted to the thread, except in the form of clarifying questions.

Clarifying questions should be welcome. Best would be direct answers, such as where I could buy such a Bible, or "you can't get all of that for under $20".

aeschenkarnos, considering your beliefs, I think you'd be most helpful by posting nothing in the thread. I'm not saying that anyone has any sort of obligation to answer a question they don't believe should be answered. Just don't say anything, and take it to memail or Metatalk if it's really bothering you. That's all I'm saying.
posted by Danila at 12:48 PM on December 7, 2007


Assumptions about why I want the Bible may very well be made, but they shouldn't be posted to the thread, except in the form of clarifying questions.

You're advocating taking a questioner completely at face value. This diminishes the advice as opposed to mere answers that can be provided, and it asks answerers to become to some extent complicit in proposed stupid (but not illegal) activity. In law, duties of care include duties to warn against dangerous actions, and duties to refrain from dangerous actions, not just duties to act un-dangerously.

Suppose someone asks "how can I do X?" where X is illegal (where the OP is, for argument's sake), but is clear from the context of the question that the OP does not know it is illegal. Do you consider it better to (a) give a straight-up answer to the question asked, and refrain from comment on legality; (b) give no answer at all, and leave the OP wondering why, oh why, their question went unanswered; (c) give an answer and an explanation of the legal issues; (d) simply give a warning as to the legal issues and no actual answer as such?

Now suppose someone asks a stupid question. They appear to have no, or a little, knowledge of the subject in question--they may even acknowledge that the question is, perhaps, a bit stupid--but it is clear from the way they ask that they do not know what the consequences of doing it will be, indeed have a completely wrong view of the consequences. Do you : (a) just explain how do do the thing (optionally, giggle in glee at the prospect of their upcoming humiliation); (b) not post at all; (c) give an answer, and a warning as to the consequences of doing it; (d) give a warning as to the consequences and no actual answer as such; (e) crosspost it to FARK?

My point is that it seems to be fairly clear site policy that the first category of questions should be answered with (d), maybe (c). This is to some extent CYA for MeFi but to a very large extent is for the sake of kindness to the OP, who, if they engage in illegal activity and are discovered, may suffer some kind of unpleasant consequences. Jail, fines, etc.

I see "for the sake of the OP" as applying likewise to stupid questions. The unpleasant consequences, depending on the nature of the question, may be imposed by brute nature, brutal nerds, banks, grandmothers and/or employers, rather than by courts of law ... but the point is, if the OP does the stupid thing their question implies they want to do, they will suffer. If I know that, and don't say so, I'm being remiss.

I don't see our role as answerers of questions to merely act as a Googlebot with a better parser. We know things. We can advise, we can help. Where necessary, we can warn. Whatever works out best for the questioner. Sometimes that means warning them off of a truly stupid plan in a sharp, harsh, and sufficiently memorable way.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:17 PM on December 7, 2007


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