forum liability

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  #1  
Old 12-21-11, 10:10 AM
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forum liability

This question is a little off topic from the normal how-to, but I've searched around and don't find very good answers.

Specifically, is anyone aware of any potential liability in answering questions posted on internet forums. For example if someone posted a wiring schematic and the person requesting it was injured in some fashion due to their lack of electrical understanding could the person posting the response be liable?

I'm not asking for any specific incident, mostly just curious as I do contribute on several forums. Has anyone ever researched this issue. Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 12-21-11, 10:22 AM
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We try to disclaim and dissuade diy'ers from taking on complicated electrical (or other for that matter) projects. Most of what we have are the run of the mill switch, receptacle, how do I wire it situations. We can usually tell when someone oversteps their own boundaries. As for a direct answer to your question, a forum is a forum, and a person asking a question is entering a caveat emptor situation. No different than going to Home Depot and buying the wrong switch, wiring it up and having it either blow back on you or trip a breaker. Clint Eastwood said it best "a man's gotta know his limitations".
Believe me, we have checks and balances between seasoned professionals on this forum, so if one makes a misstep, they get caught before they hit the floor.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 10:31 AM
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Thanks for the reply. My concern wasn't so much about giving wrong advice as it was in someone just not understanding and making a mistake on their end. My understanding was always in line with what you mentioned, basically any instruction or advice received from a forum is to be undertaken at one's own risk. In searching around I was just surprised that I can't find much if anything supporting that premise.
 
  #4  
Old 12-21-11, 10:43 AM
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Well...here in the Terms of Use (or whatever its called) they specifically deny any liability. I'm sure most other Forums have a similar statement and I guarantee it has been reviewed many times by law professionals.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Well...here in the Terms of Use (or whatever its called) they specifically deny any liability. I'm sure most other Forums have a similar statement and I guarantee it has been reviewed many times by law professionals.
I've read that, but the way it reads to me is that the web site and/or it's owners do not take any responsibility for the content of the site. I'm not seeing anything that say's that condition of use is extended to any other member posting information.

Again, in doing an internet search on this topic there are articles dealing with libel, but not much else.
 
  #6  
Old 12-21-11, 05:07 PM
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How would this forum differ from you walking into the break room at work and asking for home improvement advice? Are those people liable for what they say? I don't think so. Unless someone claims to be a professional and gives the advice as professional advice, I don't see how anything could be a problem. I don't see how anyone could assume that the advice here is professional in nature.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 05:28 PM
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..... and isn't there a difference between professional advice you pay for and what you get for free?
 
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Old 12-21-11, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by drooplug View Post
How would this forum differ from you walking into the break room at work and asking for home improvement advice? Are those people liable for what they say? I don't think so. Unless someone claims to be a professional and gives the advice as professional advice, I don't see how anything could be a problem. I don't see how anyone could assume that the advice here is professional in nature.
Maybe claiming to be or actually being a professional/expert person is the key, I'm not certain, thus the question. As for the last sentence in your response, I believe there are numerous people answering questions here that are in fact professionals in this field.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 08:36 PM
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Since I don't use my real name and my registered E-mail is not traceable to me I don't think I have much to worry about. Still, I try my best to give only code-approved answers to any questions that I answer. That often means I don't post anything unless I am absolutely certain.

The few times I have been in error I have been quickly reminded WHY my advice was wrong and I thank the other members for watching over me.
 
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Old 12-21-11, 09:40 PM
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My signature I think says it all.
 
  #11  
Old 12-22-11, 07:49 AM
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I consider the replies I give here to be advice, and do my best to help people. In the context of advice, by professionals or simply experiences one accumulates from age, this is an open forum and anyone who takes this advice has the responsibility to sort out what has been said and decide what to do. They can check a thousand other places and still it is their responsibility to decide the proper course of action. I think it would be laughable for someone to claim they followed the advice from an internet forum, professional or otherwise, and the the advice was wrong thus someone other than the one seeking help was responsible. This forum is a quality opportunity to chat with professionals and others who may have "been there and done that" and that is all. NO LIABILITY ATTACHED IN ANY WAY. Of course having said all of that, this is just my opinion and it is the responsibility of the readers to decide their own course of action.

Bud
 
  #12  
Old 12-22-11, 03:13 PM
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Advice is free and worth every penny of it!!
 
  #13  
Old 12-22-11, 06:29 PM
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Advice and code interpretation is one thing, but no one on this forum has any control over what any DIYer may actually do on his own project in compliance with or in violation of the NEC. Don't blame me if you screw up!
 
  #14  
Old 12-23-11, 03:55 AM
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Actually, Furd, you can be tracked through your IP address. Not by any of us, but the admins can provide that info to authorities if necessary.

The site's owners are protected by the Communications Decency Act, but individuals are not.

Still, it would take a blatant disregard for safety and common sense to get called out in a liability suit. Drooplug's example -- getting advice in a breakroom at work -- could expose the advisor to a lawsuit: I tell someone they can touch the contacts of a 9-volt battery to their tongue to see if it's dead, then joke: "You can also do this with 120-volt wires to see if they're live." Several people hear me say this, and one doesn't hear me say it's a joke. The next day we find out they actually did it and died.

Disclaimer: The above is an example. Never put wires in your mouth!
 
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