What is our stance on questions that could pose a safety risk to someone trying it off-topic? Are they on-topic or off-topic?

Example 1: What are some techniques and objects to make steering with one's knees when driving easier? was put on hold for the reason "clearly unsafe".

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Before anyone asks, driving with one's knees is legal in many situations, e.g. when driving in private properties in many cases, and the comment made it clear the ultimate issue was safety. While the safety may not be enhanced in many situations, there are some situations where it would, e.g. if the driver must choose between painkiller pills that make them drawsy, or driving with knees while being alert. As a result, the question could pose a safety risk to someone trying it, but not necessarily.

Example 2: How to ice a part of the body when falling asleep?

I sometimes wants to ice a part of my body (e.g., elbow, shoulder, ankle, etc.) when going to sleep in other to prevent swelling stemming from exercises. How can I fall asleep with the ice without waking up with a frostbite or other negative affect?


1 Answer 1


Questions that are illegal are always off-topic.

The TOS makes is fairly clear that asking for help to break the law is off-topic. In this case that holds water unless the OP specifically says "I'm only looking to do this on my own private property because [insert reason here such as I really want to eat ice cream]."

There's some more debate about this over on Meta Stack Exchange, but I'm going to say for Lifehacks that these questions are off-topic without an explainable lawful purpose.

Questions that are dangerous are sometimes off-topic.

Questions of non-physical danger

This has already been discussed on Meta Stack Exchange. Questions that post a non-physical danger do not make them off-topic, but may be downvoted if you wish. If you decide to answer the question, please include an explanation of why something may be a bad idea in addition to actually answering the question.

Questions of physical danger

This has also alrady been discussed on Meta Stack Exchange. If somebody is asking for help to kill themselves or another (purposely or accidentally...) then it's off-topic. You can't stop people from shooting themselves but you shouldn't cheer them on. Also comes into play is if an answer could encourage the OP cause damage to another person or their property.

This really depends on the severity and seriousness of the task being hacked. "How to fix the wing of a 747 with bubble gum" probably shouldn't be answered under any circumstances whereas "How to drive with my knees" may not be so bad. I think that needs to be left up to the community in most cases where immediate physical danger is not imminent.

That said, stating that you are looking for answers in case of a hypothetical "when crap hits the fan" situation will help keep questions on-topic and everything humming along.

  • 3
    Beyond the TOS and legal arguments, there's another layer that isn't often considered — a community can also decide for themselves, we simply don't want that here... I call that: "for reasons of community moderation" (small 'm'). Aug 23, 2016 at 21:22
  • 3
    @RobertCartaino Agreed 100%
    – Mooseman
    Aug 23, 2016 at 21:38

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