I've noticed an increase in legal-based questions lately. Whereas this question has been asked before, I don't think it has been thoroughly addressed.

There is an Area-51 proposal for legal questions, but I just feel that we shouldn't be giving legal advice. There might be members here who have experience in the area, but there can be serious reprocussions to giving recommendations when you're surely not qualified (Who here posses a Law Degree as well as Webmaster on the side?). My argument is simple; we should include another close reason to legal questions.

On the previous question about this, txwikinger suggested that it is more of academic discussion. Opening our acceptable questions to include legal matters would help increase traffic and activity in the site. So, as you can see, there is more than one side to this problem. We should definitely discuss the appropriate means to deal with legal questions in the future.

3 Answers 3


I think it's ok to ask legal questions and to answer them, so long as the answer-er highlights that they are not a lawyer.


Shutting down the questions summarily only has the effect of leaving the asker just as ignorant as before, and possibly wandering off to some other forum where maybe they will get a response. If closing is the desired path, it should probably also involve setting up a catch-all question(as for hosting requirement questions) pointing at some general resources and covering some base points, eg. "NUMBER 1: WHAT DOES YOUR CONTRACT/TOS SAY?" which people seem to commonly forget for some reason. That single question is enough to answer half of these inquiries.

It's fine to ask and respond, if only as a deterrent to people doing something obviously stupid. In the example above, what the asker is thinking about is definitely questionable from an ethical even if not legal perspective. Also, even if someone providing an answer were a lawyer, they wouldn't be the asker's lawyer, so that argument is pretty much moot.


I would look at the EFF's page Legal Guide for Bloggers https://www.eff.org/issues/bloggers/legal/liability/230

Allowing legal questions to be posted and answered falls under this and SE would have no liability regardless of the question or answers(s) posted by their users.

Section 230 says that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." This federal law preempts any state laws to the contrary: "[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section." The courts have repeatedly rejected attempts to limit the reach of Section 230 to "traditional" Internet service providers, instead treating many diverse entities as "interactive computer service providers."

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