A few days ago I answered the question: Electric heating rod .

Soon my answer got downvoted and other community users started to explain the dangers involved with that equipment(electric heating heating rod). I didn't find the tag laboratory-safety or any of such kind attached to the question. But the people who posted the comments and answers are highly reputed so I think that I misunderstood the question and I too explained a bit about the safety of that equipment.
After I edited my answer it got another downvote. I think my answer is not appropriate.

As I understand the author of question asked about the physics concept involved in getting electric current through his body.

I am new to this site please give any suggestions how I can improve my answer. Should I explain the dangers involved or should I explain the reason why OP felt current.


2 Answers 2


I couldn't say why your answer was being downvoted, but in case this is what you're asking: the rule is that people should not take safety advice from this site. This is spelled out in section 5 of the TOS:

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.

and so on.

Now, legally speaking, that means people can post safety recommendations (things like "yes, it is safe to put your heating iron in a bucket of water") and it's our readers' obligation to know that they should not take that advice. But there's another issue at hand, which is that this is a site about physics concepts, and that's pretty much mutually exclusive with safety advice. So our informal policy has been that if an answer (or even a comment) says something is safe or unsafe, that's going outside the scope of the information we are supposed to provide. I don't think that's ever really been written down anywhere, but it's been de facto "enforced" by stern comments. We could definitely make a post about that, though, if people think it would be necessary.

Anyway, the bottom line:

You were right not to address the safety concerns in your answer. It is not our job to warn people of the dangers of procedures they ask about. I think the reason you're getting downvoted is something else.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ On Chemistry we have a [safety] tag for dangerous chemicals, which seems to do OK. We may wish to have on for lab safety here, but there aren't too many questions on it. I don't see much wrong with allowing them though. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2013 at 6:50
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I would be strongly opposed to it, for the reasons I described in this answer. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Nov 26, 2013 at 7:12
  • $\begingroup$ While I agree that it is not our job to tell people how they can avoid safety hazards, I do think it's irresponsible to see someone about to do something dangerous and not tell them that they need to be careful and do their research about safety precautions. $\endgroup$ Nov 26, 2013 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Emilio OK, yes, there's nothing wrong with mentioning in passing that something may be unsafe. But I guess what I really want to say is that it should never be expected to do so. This really applies more to questions in which people ask about the safety implications of doing something, which we can't answer. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Nov 26, 2013 at 15:36

There is a tag, though it has very few applications. I don't see any reason it could not be applied to questions.

That said, I'm wary of getting into the business of making definitive safety statements on the site. Despite the disclaimer that David Z. talks about, many jurisdictions do not allow the disclaiming or waiver of negligence and sufficiently bad advice could be construed as such.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .