Look at this question. This is clearly an illegal action, but the OP is trying to convince me in the comments that he devised the strategy not to break the law, but rather to have the answers as a potential deterrent.

I may have lost my faith in people, but to me it is clear that the OP is considering to break the law and is trying to find a way to do it without getting caught.

I thought explaining in the answer why it is wrong would be enough, but in this case (as in several other cases before, with this OP and others) it was not. To me it looks like the OP was trying to find a "safe" way to break the law, so I voted to close the question, to have it later deleted.

Should we allow the questions that contain full recipes for illegal actions stay, whatever the reason for the OP to put it up may be? Should we not try to avoid this board becoming yet another platform for criminals to share and exchange information?

Being one of the highest-repped responders, I'd hate to be associated with a board that allows that.

  • What question is it about?
    – Pacerier
    Nov 10, 2013 at 6:13
  • 1
    Has been deleted
    – littleadv
    Nov 10, 2013 at 7:04
  • 1
    yes I meant what was it about?
    – Pacerier
    Nov 11, 2013 at 16:23
  • 1
    Some scheme to defraud US government.
    – littleadv
    Nov 11, 2013 at 19:30

3 Answers 3


There is a thin line in such question;
- At times someone doesn't know and is asking a genuine question
- At times someone knows hes done something wrong and wants to know likely hood of being caught.
- At times its to explore ways to circumvent things.

It is hence difficult to determine the intent of the OP.
In my opinion the we determine the questions of first type, we give a simple answer its wrong and whatever is the corrective action.

Questions of other types should clearly be closed.
On the question linked, I think its best left closed.

  • 1
    BTW, the referenced question is now deleted. Oct 31, 2013 at 20:15

I can't say it is illegal (I am not a lawyer), but legality aside, it is shady and weird.

I want shady and weird to be off-topic. This board should follow the spirit of the law as much as it follows the letter.

The other side is that I have been accused of giving shady, unethical advice, because I felt the differently about moral implications on a topic. So here is the line I would draw

  • If your answer to a question is that the act is illegal, say so. And just like any other good answer you provide citations or first hand expert knowledge.

  • If your answer is that the question is shady and weird, explain what you might feel the meaning of the law is compared to the letter of the law. Compare and contrast why the law was written. Then suggest a course.

  • If your answer is the action is of suspect ethics, explain why.

We have had other questions that were essentially "why should I follow the law when I don't think I would get caught?" That person knew they were breaking the law. I would simply flag that as a bad question and refrain from answering it. This is a site for experts, not kindergarten.

If you think the question is earnest, then answer it.

Don't forget. You can just downvote, leave no comment and walk away.


(love you guys!) <3 <3 <3

  • 3
    But but but.... If you don't have to come and delete crap - you'd be so bored! Look how much entertainment I can provide! Always thinking about our great mods here! :-P
    – littleadv
    Oct 31, 2013 at 5:04
  • 5
    @littleadv - someday I will get a badge for deleting comment fights. Gold I'd suspect.
    – MrChrister
    Oct 31, 2013 at 5:05

I think the system works. We voted and it was shut down. In a sense, it's in the category you suggest, criminal intent, but the system lets us vote it down and vote to delete same as other non-welcome questions.

I thought the question Why should I report extra income from a side-job to the IRS? was going to be deleted as well, although I took the chance to stand on my soap box and brag about my kid in my answer. It only has one delete vote, so far. As I commented, "are question of the type 'why should I comply with the law?' considered on-topic?" So far, perhaps.

I think there's a fine line between "I don't have the tax to pay, what are the penalties?" and "If I purposely don't comply with a law, how likely am I to get caught?" I help a friend move, and months later, he helps paint my house. One time situation might not require disclosure and tax on the bartered transaction, but a neighborhood systemic plan for such barter crosses the line. If an OP simply asked what the law is and how to comply, that's fine. If he asks baiting questions on how he could possibly get caught, different story.

Just an example of line-crossing topics, but I digress.

  • Accidentally that single close vote is mine...
    – littleadv
    Oct 31, 2013 at 21:47
  • 1
    @littleadv et al - I just about deleted that question a few times, but the community didn't take action so I didn't want to overreach. I think both of the answers point out the childish nature of the question. The answers are good even if the question isn't. While this is a board for expert Q&A, I am thinking the community is okay with expert answers to dumb questions every now and again. If my vote had been the fourth or fifth, it would certainly be gone by now.
    – MrChrister
    Nov 1, 2013 at 4:48

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