It is disingenuous to dismiss personal finance questions because of a legal aspect. The existence of the country tag alone is a recognition of the differing laws and regulations supporting any question or answer. Often enough, some questions get closed as "off topic" because the wording of the question encroached on law.

Questions that remain open frequently have disclaimers from people saying they aren't a lawyer, or simply reminding someone to go find a lawyer without answering, or answering with hearsay and passively mentioning get a lawyer. This is coupled with the irony that the best answers here are advice, or answers that are accurate but not advice cause lots of discomfort.

Lawyers are a gamble. Having an educated opinion before even considering going to a lawyer has a lot of benefit. Lawyers are expensive and will often just Google the problem themselves, except for $500 an hour.

This site is useless with the current logic in place. Especially when questions themselves can be merely re-worded to be compliant.

Can we loosen the prohibition on legal questions? It is distracting

  • 1
    Do you have an example of this? I agree though, if all it takes is a reword, the question should stand as-is.
    – quid
    Nov 1, 2016 at 18:41
  • I agree with nearly all of this. But, is there a question you are posing? Nov 1, 2016 at 19:00
  • @JoeTaxpayer "Can we change the prohibition on legal-ish questions? Can we loosen it?"
    – CQM
    Nov 1, 2016 at 19:01
  • Here is the crazy thing, both the on-topic list and off-topic list don't mention the word legal. So, while I agree with you, the only way to move forward on your proposal is to vote to reopen or to quickly comment when somebody says we should close for the fact that a question is of a legal nature. Nov 1, 2016 at 19:06
  • @JoeTaxpayer how many votes to reopen? You are suggesting the existence of an even worse problem, that people are closing questions for arbitrary reasons because of the fear that other questions will come here (or because they feel like it). Its like the NIMBY of stackexchange.
    – CQM
    Nov 1, 2016 at 20:38
  • It takes five votes to reopen. I did not mean to imply why any member was voting to close. But your point is well taken and probably correct. Nov 1, 2016 at 21:00
  • 1
    It would be good to have examples of questions we think should and shouldn't have been closed, to try to distinguish them. I think in practice there is not a blanket prohibition against legal questions. Rather, when someone says "Vote to close because it's a legal matter", they are implying ". . . and no useful answer can be given without delving into legal details which would have an uncomfortable likelihood of exposing the questioner and/or answerer to legal liability." A similar gray area exists in asking questions of acquaintances in daily life.
    – BrenBarn
    Nov 2, 2016 at 19:03

2 Answers 2


I agree that many of the questions we deal with on this site deal with law. And when people vote to close with the reason "I'm voting to close because this question is legal," it is very confusing.

I asked a meta question about this topic last year: Should questions about legal matters be on-topic?. My hope was that the question would help us draw the line between an appropriate and inappropriate legal question for our site.

My answer was that financial questions dealing with legal matters should continue to be on-topic. The exception would be for questions that are clearly about a legal dispute between two individuals, and I gave some reasons why I thought it would be a good idea to disallow these.

I think, for the most part, this is how the site has been operating, even if we don't have this rule explicitly in place. But you may see the occasional question closed inappropriately, or have the wrong reason listed for closure, so perhaps now would be a good time to add this rule to the on/off-topic help pages.

  • 1
    I forgot about that one. Pretty similar to this. Either way, we did not really have consensus. I am happy to see a proposal to add to on-topic. "Questions about a legal dispute between individuals." was your proposed Off-Topic, and I'd agree, but I'd rather make the On-topic clear, and use your words as the exception. (Did I say that right?) Nov 1, 2016 at 23:05
  • 3
    As I find myself saying on most such matters, I think a good way to think about it is in terms of what answers are possible. If the question can be answered in a way that would likely be useful to other people later, we should keep it open (e.g., "Can I legally deduct my rent on my tax return"). The kinds that I think are and should be closed are often of the form "Here are a bunch of specific circumstances that led to a bad situation, do I have legal recourse to secure a good outcome?" There's often no real way to answer such questions, and they have limited utility for future readers.
    – BrenBarn
    Nov 2, 2016 at 19:09

I'm sorry we didn't have closure ( in this case, 'closure' meaning 'resolution/agreement' not closing, per se) on the linked Ben question. As I carefully view it, the current What topics can I ask about here? doesn't have the word legal anywhere. (for the pedantic members - footer doesn't count!)

I agree with you and Ben. In the similar way members might reply, "You really need to see a pro," a CPA, usually, that's only an indication that the matter is complex, not off topic. An answer can include "You need a lawyer," but be on topic.

I propose the next answer be the proposal for the text we use to update the on-topic page. The insurance one didn't bother me, as I never noticed any closures on that topic. This is a larger change, given the closures we've had historically. i.e. It really needs more member participation.

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