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I'm inviting discussion and suggestions on the value of creating an post defining "Educational Purposes Only"

The home page's Banner has the embedded link educational purposes only that leads to the General Disclaimer which does not actually mention anything to do with education.

Nor do the Help Centre's guidance What topics can I ask about here? or What types of questions should I avoid asking? offer any clarity.

I have not been able to find any statutory or suitable "legal" definitions, and it seems I am not alone as there are deep disagreements about its exact nature and characteristics. But that shouldn't prevent the community from devising our own.

Judging by the diverse topics being asked and answered on the main site it's obvious that LawSE is not confined solely and exclusively for those in academia but rather encompasses, for example:

  • those struggling with the quagmire of criminal justice and civil legal systems. (Obviously, they need to follow the overarching rules, guidelines and etiquette.)

  • homework questions - discussed in detail at the MetaSE post Should we ban Textbook questions? (Again, normal posting rules apply.)

  • those just wanting to know just for the sake of knowing something.

Is there any value in having a clear, unambiguous post with which to inform users?

Finally, does the community consider it worthwhile asking our sister sites at, for example academia and ELU, for their observations and input?

3 Answers 3

4

Why?

An alternative is to rewrite the disclaimer banner, to match the general disclaimer page in speaking of informational purposes. There are many things that might also call for clarification in that front-page disclaimer, such as "individualized advice", "qualified legal practitioner", "privileged communications" and "attorney-client relationship". If there is a reasonable chance that leaving some term undefined on that page will have a worse effect than adding a FAQ (and how do we force people to read the FAQ?) explaining what we mean by the term, then it would be a good idea.

I would favor changing "educational" to "informational" because "educational" has a very strong smell of "in the context of formal education", see for example educational software licenses (available via institutions), and to that extent, "educational" would tend to mislead people. Or, "Law SE is here to help you learn about the law".

A propos the "why" question and the alternative phrasing in the comment, why do we even say anything at all? I believe it is because not everybody has a purely academic interest in the law. Somewhere near a majority of questioners have a purely non-academic interest in solving their own specific legal issue (the other large off-topic clientele is the politic group who pose a purely political question). The wording of these disclaimers is "about" not taking things you read here to be legal advice, but the admonition that you should hire a lawyer, and the presupposition that there is such a thing as your lawyer, is itself a form of legal advice. This question, which asks "should I seek legal help" and was closed for clearly asking for specific legal advice is the first time I have seen that level of recognition that asking "what should I do" one way or the other is "asking for legal advice". So to remain consistent with the "no advice whatsoever" credo, I think we should not prejudice the decision in favor or seeking legal advice.

Therefore, "decide to seek or not to seek professional advice, based on anything you read here". Also, "ignore or heed" professional advice. I know it is controversial to say this, but sometimes legal professionals are not correct, and Law SE should not advance the stance that "your lawyer is always correct". Of course finding a palatable way to state the truly neutral status of Law SE is not trivial.

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    How about this? "The purpose of Law SE is to help you learn about the law, not to replace a lawyer. You should not ignore professional advice, or decide not to seek professional advice, based on anything you read here."
    – Someone
    Commented Aug 2, 2023 at 16:41
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The purpose of Law SE is to help you learn about the law in general, not to replace a lawyer and give specific advice based on your situation. You should not ignore, or decide not to seek, professional legal advice based on anything you read here.

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No

The one provided by most dictionaries is fine “tending or intended to educate, instruct, or inform”.

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  • I concur with @DaleM: An faq FAQ post implies it is a frequently asked question, i. e. there is some regularly arising confusion about this. I cannot share this assessment: It is rather that site users deliberately ignore this policy. Commented Aug 3, 2023 at 12:21

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