So far we have these:

My thought is they should be off topic but I think the idea merits discussion. My fear is that allowing them will turn this SE Quickly into a swamp of questions about "If I do X can I do Y to get away with it?" This will drive away serious experts.

So should we allow hypothetical application of the law questions?

2 Answers 2


Yes, people learn by case studies both real and contrived, so if a question is on topic and it can be answered, it should be answered.

You have to be careful about dictating what level folks can participate in a site like this. You don't want to create a situation where new users are being interrogated to determine if their question has sufficient justification to be asked. Folks are here for different reasons, and whether they are asking for personal reasons, educational purposes, or out of pure curiosity, the purpose of curating these questions in the first place is for the benefit everyone who comes after.

So if a question is on topic and it can be answered, it should be answered. Yes, I supposed a question can become so wildly contrived that it becomes more game show than actual Q&A, but I don't think the examples cited are any cause for concern. Some of them might be poor questions — you should handle them on that basis — but we have to be really careful about drawing up broad, sweeping rules to handle a few off-putting questions. The result is often over-training a community trying to apply these rules even where a problem does not actually exist.

  • While I am not advocating keeping the "layman" out I am wanting to make sure this is a place where experts feel comfortable communicating and helping. If you have to wade through a swamp of I got busted for pot but X how can I get away with it questions, those people are not going to stick around and we are going to end up like startups rev1
    – Chad
    May 27, 2015 at 20:19
  • 4
    @Chad That's a question of folks seeking personalized legal advice, not asking hypothetical questions. May 27, 2015 at 20:21

I would go as far as saying that all questions should be considered hypothetical.

You are not trying to help a particular person with their real life problems, on the opposite you are just given a situation (hopefully with all necessary details) and a question, and should provide an answer without thinking further about who the asker is and what is his/her life.

There are other StackExchange sites where a large proportion of the questions are hypothetical.

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