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I know in other SE sites, there are law-specifc questions that get closed for either being too localized (not everyone is a lawyer, or not many people from the region), and I realize there is a question about "region specific" questions. But law specific questions, such as how to write a contract for xxx region, or is xxx allowed? Should these questions be encouraged?

8

How to write contracts is probably a no-no from my point of view, because not everyone is a lawyer. Advice on , however, is encouraged.

When you get into the specifics of the law, it is intertwined with freelancing. You are often self-employed (when not with an agency), and so legal matters that are commonly dealt with by others (who are experienced and capable enough to respond) can be answered.

As for encouraging law-specific questions, I would vote against this, and leave the questions to come naturally with freelancing. Questions involving law will usually be answered by experts, who will then give guidance and a disclaimer, though, so I look forward to seeing what others think.

For region specific questions, In the current (private) beta, there's a very high chance that no two people are from the same place. However, this isn't what the too localized close reason means. "Too localized" would be "There's a giant purple dinosaur outside my house, what do?", not a well thought out question. The simple mention of a location does not mean a question is Too Localized.

  • I understand your point of view, but I don't up/down vote on Meta until closer to the end of the betas (don't take it personally) – Canadian Luke May 22 '13 at 4:23
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    @Luke I don't really mind; I'm here for the participation + community building – Amelia May 22 '13 at 4:25
  • The too localized close reason is really reserved for situations that are so specific to where they're very likely to apply to more than one person. If I'm in California, chances are, my problem may very well apply to others in California as well, which means it wouldn't be too localized. I don't see those as a problem, but it's not a bad idea to keep an eye out for a pattern that may prove harmful. – jmort253 May 22 '13 at 5:56
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Without a doubt, Legal Questions are going to be a fundamental part of this site - because so much of freelancing involves legal matters.

Some, we (as non-legal peeps) can answer helpfully... many we cannot. The former have a place, the latter do not.

Having said that, readers of the site have to realise that most of us are not legally trained, so should treat answers with caution - but equally, all answers should be backed-up with facts (eg links/quotes from primary sources), not just opinion, so a reader can judge the merits (or otherwise) for themselves.

  • Curious to know the reason for the down vote? – Andrew May 22 '13 at 13:24
  • Me too. And Andrew's and my current comment here are examples of what I meant when I wrote, "And for anyone who down-votes a question, I think it should be an informal rule (though obviously unenforceable through anything but peer pressure) that they must explain their down-vote with a thoughtful comment about why they are down-voting the question." (emphasis added). I roger @Hiroto's point about the "nag tag", but clearly, the nag tag is not enough to cause people to actually explain their down-votes. – Osteoboon May 22 '13 at 13:50
  • @CopyrightX this is a common question on meta.stackoverflow, and the general consensus with the community is that people are encouraged to explain downvotes, but are under no obligation to. (Also, keep in mind that downvoting on meta is different, and doesn't affect your main site rep) – Amelia May 22 '13 at 15:45
  • Always good to be aware of the general consensus. I'm glad to be in agreement with it. And that's all I'm advocating here. I and Andrew are just encouraging explanations for down-votes. No obligation. Just encouragement... strong encouragement... in the interests of creating a true community that focuses on truly helping other people. Rather than just booing them when they're unpopular, we explain to them why the post is poorly regarded. And they learn. And the community gets better through learning. Seems like a good thing to me. – Osteoboon May 22 '13 at 20:11
  • Just to be clear, I'm only after an understanding of why - so if necessary I can revise/clarify my answer. As it is, my -3 is now 0 so I'm less worried. – Andrew May 22 '13 at 21:51
  • I haven't downvoted, because I partially agree with what you're saying, but I suspect other disagreement might be because it's not immediately clear where you stand. It sounds like you might be advocating that we handle any legal question when many of them will likely be too localized to be helpful to future visitors. The important key to our success is that questions be useful to folks with the same or similar problem coming from Google or other search engines. Sure, some questions with a legal component will be awesome, but many will not. Hope this helps! – jmort253 May 27 '13 at 19:19
  • Thanks @jmort253 - I've added a new paragraph to hopefully clarify my view. – Andrew May 28 '13 at 8:10
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I think law-specific questions should be welcome here, if not encouraged per se. This site is explicitly "For self-employed and freelance workers.", and I can't imagine how either named party would be able to function as such without a good deal of legal consideration. That legal consideration may not be expert (as in, of the same quality one might find from a lawyer), but I think it is much more important for either named party to need to seriously consider legal issues than it would be for people who are strictly employees of someone else.

If there are people in this community who are not lawyers but who have already considered many of these legal issues (or perhaps even suffered the consequences of early legal decisions), then I think input from such people would be extremely valuable to those who have not yet faced the same concerns. This is the power of community, and having a community "For self-employed and freelance workers" where legal questions were off-topic seems to me like it would leave a gaping hole in an area of knowledge that is essential to both named groups.

  • You make a lot of sense with that post as well – Canadian Luke May 22 '13 at 4:42
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There are many issues with law-specific questions. First, laws generally require specialized experts to interpret those laws; specifically, they require lawyers. Second, laws may be specific to a certain area or may be preempted by laws at different levels of government. This increases the chances that two people are less likely to have the same problem that is solvable with the same answers.

Third, there may be only slight differences between the details of one person's problem and another person's problem who finds the site from a Google search. These differences may be significant enough to make those answers incorrect or even detrimental, and it may not be possible for the layperson to determine whether or not the answers apply to them based on their inability to determine if the law applies in their specific circumstances.

This is pretty much what the too localized close reason is about -- situations that are so specific to one person to where they're not likely to be useful to others.

However, many issues do loosely relate to law but don't necessarily require a lawyer to answer, so we shouldn't necessarily close questions simply because a lawyer could be involved. We should ask whether another person could have that problem and if it's easy to tell if another person's situation would apply before deciding to close the question.

Because of their nature, these types of questions will probably need to be validated in some manner other than by simple voting. On the Workplace SE, the community proposed the idea of the back it up rule where users posting such answers include references to back up their answer or experiences that happened to them personally. The side-benefit is that answers end up explaining both how and why, which helps make them easier to understand and learn from.

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I think this question would better be thought of as "where should we draw the line" regarding legal questions.

I would suggest looking at legal questions as falling in two broad camps-- specifics and generalities:

  1. Those dealing with specifics should be off-topic as too localized. Many of these are fact-dependent, and really if someone needs legal advice a lawyer is the right person to ask. Questions might involve things like "is claiming copyright to all the work I did for them. Here is the relevant portion of my contract. How should I go about responding to this?" The answer is "hire a lawyer."

  2. those dealing with generalities may or may not be too vague, but I don't think they should be categorically discouraged. Things like "how formal should a contract be?" or "Should I include scope of work in the contract?" are both good questions in this category. "What kind of business entity should I choose?" is probably too vague or overly broad.

Secondly while much of this is somewhat country-specific, not all of it is. Basic business functions of contracts are not that different around the world and despite there being large formal variations in copyright law worldwide, the overall goals and concepts are reasonably constant (the lines of what is protected or allowed vs not may not be however!) and so general answers for general questions may be possible.

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No. Sincerely, I think is not a good idea. People come here from all over the world. Can you imagine talk about a specific country and bore all users that come from other countries?

EDIT: I'm enthusiast to talk about law topics but I have some doubts this will be the right place.

  • One should read here only those things that are interesting and/or important to oneself. This is why we have tags and search functionality. If everyone from every nation in the world were to address the very basic legal questions faced by freelancers and self-employed people in that nation, then this site would (I think) very quickly become the main go-to site for anyone in the world considering freelancing or becoming self-employed. This puts gentle pressure in favor of these two options, and may bias the form of all companies worldwide away from the ubiquitous multinational corporation. – Osteoboon May 22 '13 at 13:55
  • I down-voted your answer because I think it fails to seriously consider the long-term implications of what this site would look like if legal questions were deemed off-topic by the majority. – Osteoboon May 22 '13 at 13:56
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    I do not agree with you. I would prefer a specific area, not here. I'm concerned about the possibility of invasion of legal questions for a specific country that could obfuscate any other topic. – Seraphim May 22 '13 at 14:00
  • How could too many legal questions obfuscate any other topic? The search function does work, I think. Right? I suspect that people who are just browsing probably are unlikely to have any burning questions that they need answered, and I think SE is trying to become the place where people with burning questions go to get them answered. – Osteoboon May 22 '13 at 14:13
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    I'm saying that legal question should be in "legal_question".stackexchange.com. Your're saying that it should be simply a Tag (legal-question). – Seraphim May 22 '13 at 14:17
  • While I appreciate your thoughtful disagreement, I think that too much splintering into sub-sub-specialty communities like your example can easily kill all the communities. I guess it boils down to a philosophical question about what should be the kernel level of organization of the SE community. Should it be one SE community (comprising one element of a network of SE communities) like this one here, or should it be the collection of SE communities that is the kernel level of community organization? My take is that it should be the former. – Osteoboon May 22 '13 at 14:21
  • I agree, it's a philosophical question. I would not complain anything if law is intended as worldwide. And it can't be. Anyway I appreciate all of your points of discussion. – Seraphim May 22 '13 at 14:28
  • I also voted down this answer because the 'legal' tag as well as region tag 'uk', 'eu' help identify a question within the context of freelancing for all interested freelancers to read and get the help they seek. In effect I support @CopyrightX on this. – LAK May 26 '13 at 22:13
  • No, I don't think so. "eu" is not enough to identify a context. "it" "es" "fr" would be, but with a consequential further "fragmentation" of the "legal" purpose. – Seraphim May 27 '13 at 7:30
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    Hi Seraphim, I don't think the problem is that people will get bored. The problem is that people may find it extremely difficult to determine if a question they find on our site from Google will actually help them solve their problem. In legal situations, many times just a minor detail can determine the difference between correct and incorrect. On a site where the content should help not just the asker but also hundreds of future visitors, it's important that questions aren't too localized, or so specific to a certain situation that no one else will benefit from the answers. – jmort253 May 27 '13 at 19:23
  • @jmort253 Interesting analysis from the "search engine" point of view. But I'm still thinking that a lot of people would feel bored to see comments and answers related to localized legal issues when the question should not concern to any legal topic. For example: "What is the best behaviour when asking a customer to pay?". I think a question like this can be settled from a matter of "social relations". I would feel bored reading answers about a legal solution specifically for US. I'm mainly interested about relations between people, project management, time management for the freelancers. – Seraphim May 27 '13 at 20:35

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