Proposal: Law
This question is a copy of this question.

Even in the proposal phase, Law seems to be attracting questions of the form "Is it legal for me to...", "How can I..." and so forth.

There are two different problems with questions seeking legal advice. First and most importantly, they pose the risk that either answerers or Stack Exchange or both will end up engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, with resulting liability issues. As comments to this post seem to indicate, at least some users don't know about or don't understand the law of unauthorized practice of law, and will (understandably!) object that legal advice is very helpful and exactly what they're looking for. We will need to address this tactfully.

Second, these personal, "consumer" questions pose community problems similar to those on Stack Overflow, where end-users or consumers sometimes ask questions inapplicable to a professional/hobbyist forum. This is a signal-to-noise-ratio problem more than a UPL problem: we may risk accumulating numerous low-quality questions that are unhelpful and uninteresting for the professional/enthusiast audience we (should be? are?) targeting.

As a first stab at the issue, I suggest an early policy requiring questions to be (1) phrased in the third person, and (2) susceptible to an answer of general applicability. These guidelines, while not encapsulating the underlying issue, could be good diagnostics both for posters and moderators.

Does this proposal make sense?

  • 3
    I'm not sure the third person matters; the real response should be the "answer of general applicability."
    – cpast
    Commented May 26, 2015 at 23:29
  • @cpast : I just copied this question which wasn’t written by me.
    – user4
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 0:14
  • There was a good deal of discussion on the original Area 51 question. For what it's worth, I now agree that phrasing things in the third person is not particularly meaningful. Commented May 30, 2015 at 20:26

1 Answer 1


I think the easiest way is to encourage questions that ask for facts about the law, process, and how it has been applied, as opposed to how it may apply in a certain case.

I think we should bar any questions asking directly for advice on how to proceed, or speculation on what will happen in a pending case.

A well written question about legal theory should be acceptable so long as it is not asking about application of that theory in a pending case. Asking questions about a case that has been ruled on should be fine.

In cases where it is possible we should encourage editing out specific of pending cases and focusing on the process and law when appropriate.

  • There's an importance difference between "how it applies to a pending case" and "how it may apply in a certain case". I think questions about how a law applies in a given described scenario should be allowed, because quite often the asker will not know if the situation is hypothetical or not, and there may be relevant case law on the matter that an answer can point towards.
    – BrenBarn
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:23
  • @BrenBarn - Maybe I communicated it poorly but I was thinking that would fall into the how it has been applied bucket, rather than the how can it be applied bucket.
    – Chad
    Commented May 27, 2015 at 20:25

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