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keobooks's avatar

If someone asks for bad advice, are we just supposed to give it?

Asked by keobooks (14293points) May 6th, 2013

If someone were to ask on here how to commit suicide successfully, are we supposed to just tell them how? Are we not allowed to tell them that suicide is a bad idea and they should seek help so they don’t want to do it anymore? Or are we supposed to give them only the information they asked for and shut up about our opinions on whether or not killing yourself is a good idea in the first place?

I’ve been getting frustrated by people asking questions and then getting angry when people give advice other than straight up “This is exactly what I asked. Only answer this question and shut up about everything else.”

This isn’t in response to one situation here. I’ve been involved or lurked in quite a few questions where people will get berated for saying things that are not 100% what the original asker wanted to know.

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17 Answers

LornaLove's avatar

I’m not sure there are ‘supposed to’s’. I think we are just a community trying to answer as best we can on a topic we might know a little about. Or a lot.

I do feel though a lot of questions are not answered, and I do it myself from time to time, since the question was not read thoroughly. Or misread.

Suicide is another matter altogether, I personally would refrain from answering such a question.

filmfann's avatar

Okay, I guess I won’t ask the “How do I give myself an abortion with this coat hanger” question.

Bellatrix's avatar

There are some questions we would take down. Asking how to perform an assisted suicide is one and how to carry out an abortion with a coat hanger is another.

My feeling is if people ask a very specific question in General, that’s what those responding should focus on. Not trying to convince them they’re wrong or there’s a different way. If I don’t feel I can give them a response because I disagree, I don’t answer.

In social, go for it and tell them you have a different perspective.

glacial's avatar

I get where you’re coming from, @keobooks. Sometimes the question as it has been asked is not the point, and we all know it. It’s hard to restrain oneself in those cases.

bkcunningham's avatar

I remember when I first joined Fluther there was a question, I can’t remember exactly how it was worded, by someone about getting out of a court sentence or something regarding an assault and battery on a woman. The person admitted to doing the assault and battery and was getting advise on getting out of doing the jail time or something, I can’t remember exactly except that they admitted to hurting a woman and wanted advise on getting out of trouble in court. People were admonishing me for telling them they shouldn’t help this POS get out of trouble.

Inspired_2write's avatar

Conscience : the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action: to follow the dictates of conscience.
I would NOT help someone do what I know is wrong.
It would bother my conscience.(ethics).

Aethelwine's avatar

It frustrated me when I asked (in the General section) how to clean my cat properly after it got sprayed by a skunk and someone answered by telling me I should keep my cat indoors from now on. This person then ranted about how many species are being depleted by free roaming cats and I shouldn’t own any pets. I live on a farm. The mice and rats are endangered around here. I get it.~

^^This advice didn’t help me clean my cat. Every other response to my question gave me a household item or something I could buy that would help clean kitty. The other answers to my question helped me clean kitty so he could sleep with my daughter at night without being stinky.

Are you here to help or are you here to rant about your own personal agenda?

I agree with @Bellatrix

keobooks's avatar

Here’s a question someone asked back in 2009 and someone just recently necroed it. I bring it up because the user asked a specific question about whether or not she should dump her pot smoking boyfriend.

The conversation went all over the place on the subject of marijuana. People were voicing all sorts of opinions about it that really had little or nothing to do with the OPs exact question. Yet it’s still a pretty interesting thread with some useful and not so useful stuff in it.

It would have been a totally different deal had the OP kept coming back and correcting people and telling them to stop debating over marijuana and simply tell her what to do with her boyfriend.

This is the kind of discussion I meant. Isn’t it good to let the topic flow back and forth between people to give some perspective sometimes?

I know this isn’t EXACTLY what I was writing about as the OP, but I think it’s related. Should the OP always be allowed to tell people to shut up and only answer the exact question because it’s in general?

Aethelwine's avatar

@keobooks Who is the question for? The person seeking an answer or the person sitting at home or work bored out of their mind with nothing better to do? It seems the people answering have more of a say. :/

Bellatrix's avatar

@keobooks in the question you posted the person asked should she be worried about her boyfriend and later in the details is he always going to smoke weed and will he grow out of it. Where does she ask if she should dump her boyfriend in the opening questions?

These questions are more open to providing opinions than a very specific question such as @jonsblond‘s what will remove skunk odour from my cat? type questions.

jerv's avatar

I give people the best answer whether they want to hear it or not.

I also have fairly little faith in humanity since too many people who ask questions either are seeking confirmation instead of actual answers, or don’t realize that they are asking something so utterly stupid that they should not be allowed to breed. The first type of person will get irate over the least little digression from 1,000,000% utter agreement with their position (often a position that includes blind faith in Jesus, and a belief that Obama is a Fascist Socialist Muslim…) while the latter gets pissy when being told that a bad idea is a bad idea.

The last time I dealt with a person of the latter type, it was somebody I should’ve expected it from due to prior history and ignored their question, but I am far nicer than I like to admit and gave them the benefit of a doubt. Remind me not to do that again; no second chances!

ucme's avatar

If someone asked for assistance to “throw momma from the train” then i’d be up for it if the price was right…“come on down & commit bloody murder!

augustlan's avatar

In the case of suicide, illegal activities or physical harm, we’d remove the question altogether. For other questions in the general section, we should stick to actually answering the question. I know it can be frustrating from an answerer’s point of view, but it’s also frustrating from an asker’s point of view when people don’t actually answer the question, but do give advice that wasn’t asked for. That’s why we have a general section and a social section, trying to find the sweet spot where everyone can participate in a way that works for them. (I think the pot smoking question you linked to was asked before we separated out the sections.)

Keep in mind, though, that it is usually possible to both give an answer that is helpful to the asker and give some additional advice, all in one post:

“No, that is not legal. However, fighting it may be more trouble than it’s worth.”

“This product will do the job. You should do _____________ so it doesn’t happen again.”

SuperMouse's avatar

There was recently a question in General from a woman wondering what might be happening between herself and the married man she is dating. I don’t remember all the details but I do remember that I was disgusted that she was asking for dating advice for a relationship with a married man. I suppose I answered the question in a round about way by telling her that she has no business dating another woman’s husband. I know it wasn’t what she was looking for – in the question itself she asked people not to judge her. I gave my two cents anyway because I didn’t see any other way to respond to her query. In a situation such as the one @jonsblond mentioned, discussing someone’s idea of responsible pet ownership is not helpful or on-topic, as it has nothing to do with the removal of skunk smell. In the dating question the fact that the man was married had everything to do with the situation the OP was wanting to discuss.

So no, I don’t think jellies are limited to simply saying what the OP wants to hear. If a question is in general, we are required to keep the responses helpful and on topic, but beyond that, we have no obligation to placate the asker.

glacial's avatar

@SuperMouse I remember being horrified by how many people, who I otherwise think highly of, were judging the OP in that question. In my opinion, there is a big difference between offering advice (whether it is strictly on topic or not) and telling the OP that they are a terrible person. I was even more surprised that some of the answers that I flagged as personal attacks were left up – and the ones that were removed were tagged as “off topic”, not as personal attacks, which they were.

Blondesjon's avatar

i thought you used a coat hanger to jimmy open a car door

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