Roy posted a good comment on this question:

Just want to remind you that while any advice you get on this site may be useful, it does not serve as an alternative to a real legal opinion, and should not be relied on overmuch.

Of course that advice and disclaimer applies everywhere, and particularly to the types of questions one would expect to find on this site.

Can we just make something like that part of the Help, or, at worst, fine print in the footer, and thereby avoid a proliferation of caveats and disclaimers on every question and answer?


3 Answers 3


The company recently had the opportunity to sit down with a real life lawyer to poke his brains on a few legal questions lingering across the network. Proper guidance on the Law and Health sites came up.

Good news: The sidebar disclaimer you devised is excellent -- it goes above and beyond what most user generated content companies do.

But as you probably know, lawyers like to be extra safe, and so they provided us a modified sidebar disclaimer, plus edits to the Help Center article which we'll be pushing live in the next few days.

The new disclaimer:

Law Stack Exchange is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized advice from a qualified legal practitioner. Communications on Law Stack Exchange are not privileged communications and do not create an attorney-client relationship.

The new Help Center article, which serves as a General Disclaimer:

The information, advice, links and/or any other materials (“Content”) made available through Law Stack Exchange (the “Site”) are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional legal advice or consultation. You should contact a qualified licensed attorney to obtain advice with respect to any important legal issue or problem. Do not disregard or delay in obtaining professional advice based on any Content from the Site. Content may not be complete, correct, or up to date, and some Content may be obtained or provided without proper citation or review. Content made available through the Site does not represent endorsements or recommendations by Stack Exchange or other users. Use of and access to the Site or any Content on the Site, or any of the e-mail, website, social media or other like links contained within the Site, do not create an attorney-client relationship between those posing or responding to inquiries, or any other users, even if licensed individuals in the corresponding fields are involved in such use. Further, these are not privileged communication or attorney work product, and no right to privacy exists. Any opinions expressed are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Stack Exchange, or other users. All users of the Site relinquish any or all claims against Stack Exchange, the party providing the Content, and any other users that may arise from reliance on any information obtained from the Site. Reliance on any information appearing on the Site is solely at your own risk.

I wanted to let you know about these changes before they go live. Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

  • Thanks for looking into this for us Sam. It looks comprehensive and I don't see any issues with it except that perhaps we should make the Help Center article clearer in the disclaimer? Eg : Law Stack Exchange is for ... and do not create an attorney-client relationship. Please see our general disclaimer prior to using this site. Too wordy?
    – jimsug
    Nov 18, 2015 at 10:14
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    @jimsug I think that's a good idea, but probably not necessary. I defer to the lawyers, who approved the above language. It will probably go live today or tomorrow. Nov 23, 2015 at 17:06
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    Ah, excellent. There was one other thing: are they/you concerned at all by users of the mobile app or site who could create an account and use the core site functionality without ever seeing the disclaimer notice?
    – jimsug
    Nov 23, 2015 at 20:06
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    I just ran across this answer again and want to point out for future reference that the author (samthebrand) is a Stack Exchange employee and this post was made with his "Speaking Officially" hat on.
    – Pops
    Jan 19, 2016 at 23:18

The Legal link, at the bottom of every Stack Exchange site page, states (my emphasis):

To the fullest extent allowed by law, Stack Exchange disclaims any liability or responsibility for the accuracy, reliability, availability, completeness, legality or operability of the material or services provided on this Network. By using this Network, you acknowledge that Stack Exchange is not responsible or liable for any harm resulting from (1) use of the Network; (2) downloading information contained on the Network including but not limited to downloads of content posted by subscribers; (3) unauthorized disclosure of images, information or data that results from the upload, download or storage of content posted by subscribers; (4) the temporary or permanent inability to access or retrieve any Subscriber Content from the Network, including, without limitation, harm caused by viruses, worms, trojan horses, or any similar contamination or destructive program.

This answer was accepted - here's some noteworthy discussion from the comments below:

  • The above disclaimer protects StackExchange, not its authors
  • There is concern about people using the information as advice
  • There is concern about malpractice claims

I have asked a question about boilerplate disclaimers:

Interestingly, whether we would follow this advice pertains to this very question.

Finally, I would query whether providing information on a board such as this creates an attorney-client relationship, and if so, whether simply stating I am not your lawyer at the top of you post would negative the creation of such a relationship.

  • 10
    I feel like we need something more specific to this site. Giving someone bad advice about programming on Stack Overflow creates very little liability (and probably none at all), while legal advice on this site could be construed as practicing law without a license. May 27, 2015 at 1:14
  • @Justin Maybe. It specifically disclaims liability for legality of material, and there are situations on other stacks that could and would create legal liability (for instance, Personal Finance & Money would have lots of information that could create legally risky situations). In their meta, they have also had this discussion, and cited the same clause in the Terms.
    – jimsug
    May 27, 2015 at 1:32
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    Should we be concerned about the potential liability for users answering questions? Or is that their problem? Relevant: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IANAL May 27, 2015 at 1:34
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    Honestly? I don't think it's necessary, as users should really be wary of UPL and providing legal advice. But we could put something in one of the Help pages, if we think it's required.
    – jimsug
    May 27, 2015 at 2:47
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    1) That's only a disclaimer for stackexchange -- not for the author of the post. 2) Even if it were, I doubt contributors would be willing to leave out disclaimers in their individual posts due to this. May 27, 2015 at 6:24
  • @CodesInChaos this is true. But really, it's probably the post author's responsibility to ensure that what they are writing does not constitute legal advice. And if it does, does a boilerplate disclaimer for the site protect them? I'm not in a position to look up any relevant case law.
    – jimsug
    May 27, 2015 at 6:26
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    @jimsug That might be a good question for the main site May 27, 2015 at 6:27
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    I agree that there should be something specific for this site. Even if it's not a question of liability, we should make it obvious to people that they're not getting serious advice here, and they may very well still need to see a lawyer. It's a bit much to expect every new user to read the main sites legal section before asking a question.
    – Roy
    May 27, 2015 at 11:09
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    @roy I would be comfortable with including something brief in the welcome banner that is displayed for visitors. But apparently these may not have effect in Europe, for instance. I suppose US users will form the bulk of the traffic, but I also wouldn't want to give authors any false assurances that this would definitely protect them from liability in all circumstances.
    – jimsug
    May 27, 2015 at 11:17
  • @jimsung That's fair, but like I said, I think the legal sections does cover the issue of liability, and this is more a matter of informing those who ask questions.
    – Roy
    May 27, 2015 at 11:19
  • Right, I see. Hmm. I don't know, do we coddle users of the site like this? It's not like we say on StackOverflow "This advice may not work for your specific development environment, please consult an expert familiar with your setup before employing it". I think we can put something unobtrusive, but really, I think people should be reviewed responsible for deciding the soundness of internet sources themselves, for the most part.
    – jimsug
    May 27, 2015 at 11:22
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    I agree with @CodesInChaos, and in fact I have been including a short disclaimer, with a link to a longer one, on my answers. I'm slightly but sufficiently concerned about malpractice claims; less so about UPL. More importantly, I'm concerned that non-expert readers will misunderstand the purpose of the site and of my contributions, and rely to their detriment on something I've written. The StackExchange disclaimer is meaningless for me. I will not post answers under my own name without a disclaimer. Jun 1, 2015 at 17:55
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    @jimsug - I agree that it's undesirable. But I think the critical challenge facing Law.SE in general is attracting contributions from lawyers. There's an inherent tension between the interests of lawyers and the interests of readers who don't want to be annoyed--especially those who really do want legal advice. Jun 2, 2015 at 17:09
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    And for what it's worth, I'm not sure about my "disclaimer on every answer" policy. I can't really imagine problems arising from an answer like this one, which is basically just about scholarly concerns. Contrast this wills question, which is phrased beautifully but could attract search-engine visitors trying to get Grandma's jewels. Jun 2, 2015 at 17:28
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    "protects StackExchange, not its authors", isn't that a moot point as all submissions become the property of SE? Can I be held personally liable for content I've produced but no longer own the rights to? Doesn't the agreement between SE and its users, indemnify us?
    – Mazura
    Jul 24, 2015 at 6:02

Moderator notice

Please see the above answer.

I would have something specific to users; both people seeking advice/asking questions, and those answering. I have added specific disclaimers to at least one question that seemed like an actual legal issue rather than a philosophical query.

I think something general, like this would work:

The information, advice, links and/or any other materials available to the public or members of this (community, website, forum, whatever term you want here) are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Some of this information may be obtained elsewhere without proper citation. You should contact a licensed attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail, website, social media or other like links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship between those posing or responding to inquiries, the user or browser. Further, these are not privileged communication and no right to privacy exists. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of other users and may not be complete, correct, or up to date. All users of this site relinquish any or all claims that may arise from detrimental reliance on any information obtained from this site.

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