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I know there are a lot of experienced cooks and kitchen savvy Chowhounds posting on the boards. But we have many people who are novices and have legitimate questions that need good answers. In the past year or so I have seen suggestions and opinions that for the most are just wrong. Some of those answers that are posted to the queries can be harmful or dangerous. I feel that when we post an answer it is our responsibility to be accurate as possible. If one is posting an opinion about something it should be indicated that it is an opinion, IMHO. This issue has been bothering me for awhile and I just had to speak up.

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  1. I understand what you mean, Candy. But there's difficulties. Folk may post a potentially harmful suggestion with the absolute certainty that it is not harmful. You cannot legislate on a discussion board for someone's different knowledge base, experience, etc. I think all we can reasonably do, if we see a post that we believe is harmful, is to post something to that effect by way of a warning. Of course, we would then also be in the same position - posting in the absolute certainty that something is harmful when it may not be.

    Have to say that if someone is foolish enough to post on an internet discussion board asking about possible food safety issues and then rely on what a group of perfect strangers may say to them, they are almost asking for trouble.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      Exactly right, Harters. One person's opinion may be another person's fact. One example is when someone thinks they got sick from the mayo in the potato salad when, in fact, it was the potatoes. The best/only solution is, as you say, to gently :) refute and, if possible, link to a reputable site. And I DO agree that seeking food safety advice here is just damn foolish.

    2. There are enough legitimate websites for more serious, health/safety issues that anyone who takes message board advice as gospel has only him/her self to blame.

      1 Reply
      1. A lot of people on here think they know more than they do.
        Hell, some of them put peas in carbonara. Should be an immediate ban.

        1. Other Than Food Safety,
          can you give a generic example, Candy?

          8 Replies
          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            Not Candy, but here's an example. There's a current thread about buying used naked cast iron pans, some of which are rusty. Some of the replies suggest using spray-on oven cleaner. I have ZERO idea if that is or isn't dangerous, but a few weeks ago a caller asked about that on America's Test Kitchen Radio. Kimball and Bridget Lancaster both said not to do it, because the chemicals would permeate the pores of the cast iron and could then leach into the food you cook in the pan. Whether their caution was based on assumption or science, I don't know. They didn't cite any references. But just in case, I posted on the above-mentioned thread to relay that concern.

            1. re: greygarious

              I just went through three pages of Google hits on this subject and there was not one site that had what I would consider reputable info on the subject. I think that's what I would point out. Buyer beware.

            2. re: Kris in Beijing

              Kris, I came across a post where someone asked the board about purchasing, asking whether he should get A or B. One poster made a suggestion and then went on to say that it could be used in a manner for which it was not intended. When I called on that the poster then he then came back and said to do that with model C. The OP could have done something very dangerous.

              1. re: Candy

                Oh. Yes. I see.

                It's tough when someone believes some combination is fine (I have an iron stomach) whilst someone else had an allergic reaction and was hospitalized (I'm also allergic to aloe).
                However, for the most part the back-and-forth is the beauty of CH, with the exception of those who (using my example) would tell EVERYONE that consuming aloe will put them in ICU.

                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                  You're allergic to aloe?! You're the only other person I've met with that allergy. (And I'm sorry you have it, 'cause it bites.)

                  On topic, though, I think that there are ways of saying "Hey, although it was suggested you try 'X,' some people have reported bad experiences / results and have chosen to go with 'Y' instead."

                  1. re: ElsieDee

                    Yep, allergic to aloe.
                    My kiddoes used to be worried that I'd get into a car accident, get burned, be slathered in aloe by EMS, go straight into anaphylactic shock, and die; they wanted me to wear a medic alert bracelet.
                    To the topic, many Hounds have a writing style that is more of the "expert" than the "you might try" advisor.
                    Too many chefs…

                    1. re: ElsieDee

                      My mother was also allergic to aloe, in a very BIG way.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        My first year in Beijing, I discovered that "Breakfast Milk" included aloe.
                        Not a pleasant experience.

                        Kris now in DC/NoVA

              2. If someone thinks a poster is wrong, feel free to enter into the discussion.
                Other than food safety issues, I fail to see the gravity of telling someone to use cream in their Alfredo sauce.

                7 Replies
                1. re: monavano

                  But I think it's nice and helpful to point out that, generally speaking, that's not how it's prepared.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Really? No cream in risotto or carbonara, for sure, but the recipe I use for Alfredo sauce, from Marcella Hazan, is cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese. Is that wrong?

                    1. re: Allstonian

                      Saveur had an article about it: http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen...
                      Fettuccine, butter, parmesan.
                      (But then what is butter but cream after inverting the oil-in-water emulsion into a water-in-oil emulsion. So it does contain cream!)

                      1. re: drongo

                        Super article giving the history and the fact that cream was not in the original.

                        1. re: drongo

                          No freshly ground pepper? Love the Saveur recipe.

                        2. re: c oliver

                          Well, that's a whole can of worms!
                          But yes, inevitably someone will bring up that cream is not supposed to be in Alfredo and others will chime in.
                          You can almost set your watch by it!

                          My point was that advising someone as such is pretty darn innocuous.
                          OMG, I didn't make authentic Alfredo, call 911!!!!!

                          /sarcasm ;-)

                      2. I can't stand looking at the Special Diets board because of all the medical advice asked for and given there. The worst offenders are those who "have had the exactly the same condition," "throughly researched" it, and consider themselves experts not only on diet but medication as well. I only hope that someone doesn't make a bad situation worse by taking advice that may not be as good as it sounds.

                        53 Replies
                        1. re: Samalicious

                          I've all but pleaded with TPTB over the years to not allow it but it continues. Like you, I fear the worst. Not every CH (or person on the planet) is sensible. As mentioned above, taking life and death advice from an anonymous stranger is so scary.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            a doctor posting medical advice without a thorough examination of the patient would be facing disciplinary action (of various degrees)

                            I don't know what gives people the idea that they are qualified to diagnose and treat via the internet, particularly with little to no medical background.

                            When seeing a medical professional recently, I mentioned that the research I'd done....which was promptly interrupted with a full-on rant about tinfoil hat whack jobs on the internet.

                            When the individual finally slowed down enough to catch a breath, I just quietly said "yeah...I'm talking about the whack jobs at Johns Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic, because I restrict my searches to those with .edu and .org suffixes when researching medical issues."

                            this person at least had the grace to sit in awkward silence for a few minutes.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              perhaps your PCP has too many patients suffering from "cyberchondria", sunshine842! Can you imagine the reaction if you stated that your source was "Chowhound" instead of JH & Mayo Clinic? LOL

                              Some interesting stuff here: http://mashable.com/2012/06/15/online...

                              1. re: MrsPatmore

                                Cyberchondria is a great word. Can I diagnose my MIL with that or would that be grounds for legal action?

                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                  Chowhound as a "mayo clinic" - appropriate only on some of the GT and HC threads, where opinions about homemade and store brands of mayonnaise abound!

                                  1. re: MrsPatmore

                                    wasn't a PCP -- but I was pretty put off by the response. Fortunately I don't have to deal with that one any more.

                              2. re: Samalicious

                                Amen! I deliberately avoid the special diets board (even though a topic may be of interest) due to the situation that you describe, Samalicious. And no matter how many times you flag the comments (and they do get deleted by the mods if you flag them), they'll reappear either in the same thread or in another thread on the Special Diets board. The tenacity of some of the posters is remarkable!

                                1. re: MrsPatmore

                                  I have a fair amount of medical background and I don't even suggest someone take an aspirin without checking with their physician. I'd think the site would have legal liability for allowing these kinds of things, esp. after they get flagged over and over again.

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    IMHO the reason that these clearly OT and inappropriate commentaries continue largely unabated is that they generate *passionate* debates -- some of these threads can generate hundreds of responses in just a day or two and all that activity helps keep CH threads (in general) near the top of search results in search engines like Google. One of the factors considered important by search engines is the amount of new content and these heated debates (although OT) generate loads of *new* content for CH. It's considered "new" content by Google etc. even though most of the time it's the same blah blah blah from the same people.

                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                      TOTALLY agree with you. We have to remind ourselves that this is part of a huge company and it's all about the numbers. Nothing but the numbers.

                                    2. re: c oliver

                                      I work for a national health charity. We have a long standing policy that no staff or volunteers dispense medical advice. I would suggest they talk to their doctor/family. Liability issues aside - I would feel horribly guilty if my advice resulted in unintended side effects/complications/worsening of their condition.

                                      1. re: maplesugar

                                        That makes sense. I work for a health care company too but I am not a clinician (I have an MBA). We have a policy about non-clinicians giving any type of medical advice when they are in a clinic setting. It is amazing how often appointment clerks are asked for their opinions on all sorts of things.

                                        However, in the corporate office, I have no qualms about offering my two cents when the guy in the office next door is kvetching about his allergies.

                                  2. re: Samalicious

                                    Best to stay away, then. I've found SD really helpful in making dietary selections for my new, medically-forced, way of eating. I'm smart enough to tell the difference between medical advice and food ideas. Also, the mods are pretty quick to step in to any thread that veers into "medical advice."

                                    1. re: tcamp

                                      You're smart enough. Is EVERY CH? I really believe that one needs to assume NO ONE is and therefore it should not be allowed.

                                      As to things getting deleted, from the little I've seen it takes a lot before that happens.

                                      Remember also that what's good advice for one person can be the worst advice for someone else. Without a medical chart in front of us and the knowledge to read it accurately, it's playing with fire to offer advice.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        Wholly separate from the issue of whether readers are smart enough to decide to follow gratuitous online *medical* advice, it irks me that on a forum called "Chowhound" and dedicated to the topic of food, I've had to deliberately avoid entering any discussion on the Special Diet board because of a bully or two who hijack nearly every thread to discuss their own medical issues, ad nauseum. It's happened enough and enough people have complained that this objectionable behavior could have and should have been reined in by now. But as stated above, those annoying OT posts generate a lot of bankable traffic for the site.

                                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                                          And drive away those who have an interest in the ON topic part of the thread. MrsPatmore, I've seen them also. And no amount of trying to get it back on topic seems to work.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            It's a case of "I cured all my ailments THIS way so it must be fail proof, doctors be damned". I find that attitude to be the most dangerous. Are there bad docs, nurses and other medical professionals? Yes the same as there are bad lawyers, baristas etc. Telling people that doctors are useless and "just do what I do", is reprehensible.

                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                              EXCELLENT point! I've seen here tons of "doctors don't know crap" and have replied at times to the contrary. Many, many years ago I read about a chiropractor that was convicted of second degree murder for convincing parents of a child with cancer to take him away from his MD and let the chiropractor cure him. That's an extreme case but makes a point.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Yes, extreme but valid.

                                                Personally when I read/hear someone telling folks docs are bad, that they all just work for big pharma, just take my advice, they don't know anything, etc it makes me disregard pretty much everything they are saying.

                                                I dealt with a lot of that in my 7+ year struggle with infertility. Trust me you are not making a strong case telling me the docs don't know what they are talking about and if I just do X or stop Y it will all be ok.

                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                  I just scroll right on past when I start to read this conspiratorial rhetoric- don't waste my time.

                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                    Eh, I've never had a doctor ever help me in any significant way the few times I've gone (I'm also young and have no health problems). I will acknowledge that my small anecdotal evidence is meaningless though. People who offer "guarantees," because something worked for them are mostly morons, but I don't think a simple suggestion is that awful; depends what it is though.

                                                    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                      Really? You've never gotten an antibiotic or broken a bone? I'm fairly young and have no health issues but I certainly have been helped by doctors.

                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                        I suppose I've been administered an antibiotic a few times (should have broken many bones, but never actually have, lucky me) which is an easy thing for a doctor to do correctly and not fuck up. Pretty run of the mill type thing, not some crazy weird issue that requires tons of medical knowledge and really makes them earn their pay.
                                                        I suppose doctors help me seldomly, but not never. I had an big issue once and had just horrible, HORRIBLE experiences with a dozen doctors and specialists.
                                                        I think I've just had some bad luck, as have many others in my family. If I had a major problem I'd obviously still go to a doctor but otherwise I just avoid them...not that I have a real reason to go anyway.
                                                        I don't think all doctors are bad, just like I don't think all cops are bad. Sure, my personal experiences have been mostly horrible, but I don't extrapolate that data at all, I'm just a single person, and my family is still a miniscule portion of the population, our experiences don't count for much. Certainly not enough to eschew all doctors or even close.....

                                                          1. re: Hobbert

                                                            Probably simple case(es) of bad luck, at least that's what I'm chalking it up to. There's morons everywhere, doctors, farmers, lawyers, servers, IT professionals, etc etc I probably just happened to deal with some who were doctors.

                                                            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                              Not too many morons make it through medical school, residency, etc. They may not have great personalities or whatever, but I don't think I've ever met an MD that I would legitimately call a moron.

                                                              1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                I have...an urgent care doc once told me I had tonsillitis. I had my tonsils removed 20 years previously so I told him that seemed unlikely. Fortunately, my regular doc is awesome.

                                                                1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                  I don't really want to get into it here, and I don't think I have anything to say that could really help anyone either or that is relevant to food or eating.


                                                            2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                              really? How about choosing the antibiotic that your insurance will cover, while simultaneously balancing whatever your condition is, what part of your body is affected, and what the likely suspect is in terms of the bacteria?

                                                              Not all antibiotics work equally well on all parts of the bodies or equally well against all infectious agents.

                                                              Then there's also the ones who work behind the scenes on things like vaccines and general public-health issues to make sure that you STAY healthy!

                                                              That's a lot of derision there.

                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                Hey, look. I understand there is a contingency of *redacted* on CH that hates all doctors and thinks modern medical practices and knowledge are basically a scam. I am NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in this group. I don't read special diets boards because it gives me high blood pressure (I only see the recent threads pop up on the home page occasionally).
                                                                I'm not saying all doctors, or a large percentage are morons, I don't think that at all. I obviously just shouldn't have said anything. I had a bad experience with a few doctors, that's all. I didn't want to turn this into a big battle about the usefulness of doctors. I don't need to get told by people on CH about how things are not as simple as they seem to people outside of a specific field, I already know that. Basically what I was saying is that I had a shitty experience, and it is not representative of the whole, if you find fault with that, so be it. If you want to tell me my experience was not shitty, go ahead, but you don't know any details and I'm obviously not putting personal medical shit on here.

                                                                For what it's worth I contacted a physician, and a pharmacist friend and the physician said that *typically* diagnosing something that needs antibiotics, and then prescribing the correct one is a simple task (due to their training, obviously I personally have no clue whatsoever as to what antibiotics I'd need or how to take them)...compared to a lot of things they do. That is all I was saying, not that doctors don't add value. On the continuum things doctors do (least difficult to most), antibiotics are typically not that complicated, THAT IS ALL I WAS SAYING.

                                                                Sounds like there is a behind the scenes battle on here where some people hate doctors, and some people are reasonable. The reasonable folks feel like they need to defend doctors (even to a fault) just to make up for the absurd folks who hate all doctors and prefer their crazy homebrew methods. Kind of like how metactitic works, the people feel like they have to make up for the reviews they don't like by being extreme.

                                                                  1. re: carolinadawg

                                                                    Heh, I did.
                                                                    I think I read Chowhound a weird way.
                                                                    I only really pay attention to recent threads, this popped back up and I thought something along the lines of "fuck it, this beats doing something productive at 8 am".

                                                                  2. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                    I think you've explained better than anything just why medical convos have no place here :) Thanks. PS: If it were "behind the scenes," we wouldn't have to see it.

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      "And this is why we can't have nice things"

                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                        Yeah, I guess it is on stage not behind the scenes haha.

                                                                        It'll never happen but I want a board called "black hole," where there are no mods, and anything goes, I'm sure CBS would be thrilled.

                                                                        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                          That's what the
                                                                          "Not About (this board)"
                                                                          on many sites.
                                                                          Tread lightly, those who dare…

                                                                          1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                            Yeah, but on CH the mods are still holding on to that territory with an iron fist.

                                                                            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                              Not just that board.
                                                                              A lively relevant discussion of over 100 posts were just sucked out of a thread on General.
                                                                              Now it's <50 posts; well over 200% were removed to leave the remaining "acceptable" ones.
                                                                              I'm usually 51% pro Mod, but not that time.

                                                                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                                Is that the Giada thread with the pictures of her in high school and the boob shot? I'm not sure how those posts added to a discussion about breadcrumbs in pasta.

                                                                                1. re: EM23

                                                                                  "A lively irreverent discussion of over 100 posts"

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        God God, the producers make sure they're in every possible shot.

                                                                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                          not Food Network footage.

                                                                                          See EM23's cmment above.

                                                2. re: Samalicious

                                                  I'd just like to offer a different perspective.

                                                  I think I *found* Chow through the Special Diets board (and a google search).

                                                  I agree with the "not offering medical advice" dictum, but when a poster says "I've been advised/diagnosed...."?
                                                  I'd like to think that poster already has an MD on-board.

                                                  I know that I have both found and offered menu-advice. I try never to veer off of the "food only". I also have read posts, and again read/use them for recipe ideas. I've found some really great stuff here.

                                                  I know that I have loved great food since before my illness...and I hope to cook and to EAT beyond it. If others have tips for attaining that, I love to hear their suggestions. Other "health-centered" boards seem to be more about the illness. I like the food-first approach on this site.

                                                  1. re: pedalfaster

                                                    And I think that's why the board was created. But there are those who hijack threads with their considered opinion of medical advice. They can also be the first to say doctors don't know what they're doing. I think the SD board could be moderated so that the food part is all that survives. A poster who also includes medical advice should get an email saying that they're post has been deleted but if they will edit out the medical advice they can then repost it. I think a few of those and the offenders would (hopefully) get the point and stick to the point.

                                                    1. re: Samalicious

                                                      Samalicious, Mrs Patmore, FoodieX2, all.
                                                      I'm often on the Special Diets board.

                                                      One of the reasons that brought me to the board is that my husband was diagnosed with a condition that was very much linked to what we were eating....and we thought we were eating healthily and frugally.

                                                      Well, for him and his personal way of processing food, it was not healthy eating. When I joined the board, I was confused, scared, receiving conflicting messages from his health care providers (MD's) and looking to help my husband enjoy healthful and delicious food. The poster of whom you speak reached out to me with sympathy, a bunch of great recipes, and gave me hope for my husband's recovery from his stroke and management of his underlying illness.

                                                      She was VERY careful to tell me that he should trust not what *she* said, but what his medical equipment read--in his case, a blood glucose meter...in other words, that medical test numbers probably wouldn't lie.

                                                      My husband is still on several medications, and likely will be on a couple for life. He's off a few too, which helps how he feels (and our wallets!). He's doing well.

                                                      I don't like the tone of this part of the thread, which is reminding me of the mean kids in the cafeteria whispering about someone at another table. If you don't like what someone says, just ignore them. Don't speculate about their habits or their ethics. It's just Chowhound.

                                                      Peace to you all, sincerely. I do love CH.

                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                        pinehurst, I'm glad that you find the content on the SD board useful and that it has helped your husband. And as for the "mean kids in the cafeteria" - well, there's no other way to have this conversation since we all know that CH won't let us name names or even give an example of what we are talking about. Also there is no option of sending PMs on CH. And to our collective dismay, there is NO ignore button!! Believe me, if there was such a button, I would not be typing this message nor following this thread!!

                                                        But the fact that there are a bunch of us who find the conversations on the Special Diets board objectionable to the point that we now avoid the board altogether because the threads are constantly hijacked by one or two bullies with personal agendas that include giving medical advice and denigrating medical professionals, well that is fairly discussed here on the "Site Talk" forum. IMHO

                                                        BTW no disrespect intended but all of the information that you found helpful could have been communicated without excessive disclosure of intimate personal medical history being included and without a barrage of insults directed at medical professionals.

                                                        1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                          No disrespect taken, MrsP. I can't speak for the poster on Special Diets, but I can tell you that a lot of the ranting from people with the condition which that person (and my husband) have stems from the fact that we've been given information by well-meaning nurses and PCPs (among others) that not only haven't helped mitigate the condition, but have actually worsened it.
                                                          TMI for this post and I'm not going to hijack, but the long term consequence of getting bum dope advice re. eating "this" rather than "that" with that specific diagnosis are really, really dire.

                                                          Anyway, I've said my peace and will leave y'all to your discussion---and sincerely--thanks for the good wishes for my H!

                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                            In all honesty I am not talking about one poster but multiple threads/posts in the same vein. It's why I avoid the special diets board unless it's for something specific. Granted it's also why most people don't know about my struggles with infertility. I don't want to think about the consequences if I had listened to well meaning folks in the interwebs.

                                                            If one particular poster has helped you and your husband that's wonderful! I do however still stand behind my opinion that it does no good to make blanket medical statements to strangers on the internet. One persons anecdotal success is another's disaster. A board whose premise is to hunt down the finest chow is no place for one to seek detailed medical advice. How to make good chow within your medical limits? Have at it! That's what these board should be used for.

                                                        2. But don't you think most people offering opinions believe in their own validity? That they are, in fact, facts?

                                                          I'm going to go along with whomever posted 'Buyer Beware.' It applies to the entire WWW, IMO.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: tcamp

                                                            I agree with you tcamp, in principal. However, given that this is a forum supposedly dedicated to the topic of food, I don't think that it's asking too much for the mods to clamp down on the medical stuff. This is a collateral issue, but for the life of me, I can't figure out why these people don't carry on these discussions elsewhere! It's not like there aren't a gazillion sites where such subjects would be both welcome and appreciated!

                                                            1. re: MrsPatmore

                                                              Just to postulate:
                                                              1) they've worn out their welcome on other sites
                                                              2) people on other sites don't listen, they instead tell their own stories
                                                              3) some people with some medical conditions have more computer time
                                                              4) feeling bad can make you want to both vent and seek sympathy
                                                              5) an ongoing health crisis makes you an expert on yourself and you can forget that your priorities aren't weighted the same as others'


                                                              Kris now in DC/NoVA

                                                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                I especially like #1.

                                                                And, yes, there are sites I'm sure dedicated to any ailment one has but perhaps they'd get shot down more easily there for giving wrong advice. Whereas here they should get shot down for giving ANY advice. CHs should not be put in the position of wondering.

                                                                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                  Kris in Bejing now DC/NoVA: all good points. These people must, at a minimum, have a lot of extra time on their hands, as evidenced by the sheer number of posts they're able to generate! If only an "ignore/block" button were an option . . . .

                                                            2. This conversation leads me to wonder who is, or would be, ultimately responsible if something untoward happened to a CH who took bad advice?
                                                              This applies from the ubiquitous "Is this safe to eat", to special diets.

                                                              16 Replies
                                                                1. re: Harters

                                                                  I agree, but the legal system might beg to differ ;-)

                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                    There was a news piece in today's WaPo about a (drunk) guy who killed his friend while they were playing a Jackass style game involving a gun and a bulletproof vest. Oops.

                                                                    I can't imagine (but don't know stats) that "copycat" type lawsuits are often successful.

                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                      Oh, I'm sure we tacitly signed away rights to sue when we joined.
                                                                      And have you EVER seen a vaguely controversial post where at least One person didn't say "noooooo, that'll kill you!!!"

                                                                      1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                                                        I don't think one can actually sign away their right to sue. But I'm not a lawyer, just play one on tv :)

                                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                                          One can't "sign away" their right to sue, or at least no court would uphold that; however, one can indemnify themselves against legal liability (such as CBS Interaction does when you register to "join" Chowhound.com). One can sue anyone for anything, virtually, but prevailing in a lawsuit is a different matter.

                                                                      2. re: monavano

                                                                        I doubt that. Like you said, regarding the "is this safe to eat" question. There was a recent thread about store-bought rotisserie chicken. Many people said "when you bring it home, refrigerate it until dinner time".

                                                                        I said "I buy them all the time, leave them out on the counter until dinner, and nobody has ever gotten sick from the chicken in my house".

                                                                        So while it's a fact that that's what I do in my house, if someone gets sick after reading my post, I am not responsible.


                                                                        1. re: monavano

                                                                          A legal system may beg to differ but how does a internet thread differ from the idiot asking a group of colleagues for advice. Or the folk at the coffee shop or the neighbourhood bar. I would be surprised if even the American legal system would think of suing the coffee shop owner - but, hey, over here on the eastern side of the Atlantic, we read crazy stories about the American legal system, so you may be right.

                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                            I don't know- I'm just wondering out loud.

                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                              because an internet forum, particularly CH, are owned by enormous corporate entitites with Very Deep Pockets.

                                                                              I can totally see CH being listed in a lawsuit by someone who was harmed by ersatz medical advice on CH.

                                                                              Would they win? Depends on a ton of "what if", so can't say. But it would generate a shedload of bad publicity for CH as well as a huge drain of money to defend it, so the reality is that I can totally see CH just settling out of court for a barking-mad amount of money just to keep it out of the press.

                                                                              if I were a lawyer at CH, I'd have probably had a stroke over some of the stuff that's left up on the boards here.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                "if I were a lawyer at CH, I'd have probably had a stroke over some of the stuff that's left up on the boards here."

                                                                                I wouldn't.


                                                                                There're enough belt and suspenders in there to pull up every pair of pants at a Lil Wayne concert.

                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                  like that's going to stop somebody who's hellbent on a lawsuit, or the mongrel ambulance chaser they hire to represent them.

                                                                        2. re: monavano

                                                                          "This conversation leads me to wonder who is, or would be, ultimately responsible if something untoward happened to a CH who took bad advice?"

                                                                          Well, an actual opinion letter on the subject will cost you thousands of dollars, go on for many pages, and be peppered with sufficient qualifications, limitations, and restrictions to make you realize you should have simply spent the money on Powerball tickets. I once had a mentor explain to me that the art of writing such a document was to "say nothing, so well, over so many pages, that they think you said what they wanted you to."

                                                                          Kidding aside, you might want to think of it as "caveat postor".* Fundamentally, it's the person who writes the post relied upon who would have to be sued and found by a trier of fact to be, at a minimum, negligent. Viacom/CBS's lawyers have positioned all the companies to be quite well protected from liability. They can't avoid litigation, but they've done a solid job of avoiding even having to pay for the costs of that.

                                                                          NOTE: The thoughts and information contained herein are not intended, and should not be construed, as legal advice. The text shall not be relied upon in any way as the opinion of counsel. No attorney-client relationship exists. Nothing herein shall be construed as any offer or solicitation of legal services. By reading this, you further absolve and agree to indemnify and hold harmless MGZ, his associates, heirs, successors, assignors, and legion of fans, of any liability arising out of, or in any way related to, the contents hereof or of any other submission to this website and those affiliated with it.

                                                                          * * *

                                                                          Frankly, monavano, your curiosity, given the general issues raised and the discussion spawned by this thread (as well as a couple of others recently), has led me to think that maybe in addition to being aware of what types of medical advice are offered, we might want to pay attention to some of the armchair legal opinions submitted. In the end, common sense may be the best advice - they are our words next to our screen names.

                                                                          *OK. A little more kidding.

                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                            "...you might want to think of it as "caveat postor"

                                                                            Shouldn't that be "caveat posterior" (as in "cover your ass")?

                                                                            1. re: Servorg

                                                                              I think "caveat posterior" is what they told Kevin Bacon before filming the initiation scene in Animal House.

                                                                              For those who've been living under rocks too long:

                                                                        3. On one hand, if people couldn't get bad advice on chowhound, there are a million other online sites where people will get the same bad advice. A lot of times, people are just looking to have their preconceived notions confirmed - if you're looking for that, you'll find it, on CH or elsewhere.

                                                                          On the other hand, just because bad advice is widespread doesn't mean it should be condoned.

                                                                          I agree with tcamp's post above - everyone thinks their own advice is sound, whether it is or not. Moderating away bad advice while keeping good advice is problematic - it makes CH moderators the arbiters of good vs bad advice. No offense to CH moderators who are surely about as capable of the job as the next guy, but no thank you.

                                                                          The only reasonable solution is to allow or disallow certain topics entirely, regardless of whether the advice offered on said topic is good or bad.

                                                                          Which topics?

                                                                          I'm not bothered by food safety queries. It's easy and nearly inevitable that someone will post the USDA recommendations in those threads. And people will ignore those recommendations knowingly (which may or may not be a good thing). But the point is that the basic subject is simple enough that i don't feel as though those threads as a whole are particularly misleading, even if some of the advice given is problematic.

                                                                          I'm also not bothered by discussion of nutrition recommendations. The biggest problem here is that most people think the evidence for their particular beliefs is stronger than it is. Nutrition is inherently an extremely difficult topic to study. But the subject is more or less on-topic for chowhound, and the ambiguity of the subject matter also kind of makes it a wash as to whether the information offered can really be all that dangerous. If you're gonna discuss nutrition in the first place, you're gonna deal with some uncertainty and risk. So be it.

                                                                          I haven't seen too much in the way of dangerous suggestions about cookware or appliances. Most of the more dangerous procedures I can think of (messing with the self-cleaning cycle of your oven to cook at higher temperatures, deep frying turkeys in the back yard, etc) are usually prefaced with warnings about the danger. No harm, no foul. But I could just be missing the subjects people are talking about.

                                                                          If anything bothers me, it's discussions of medications. These discussions are relatively off-topic for chowhound. And also, discussions of medications on CH almost always drastically over-simplify the issues surrounding a medication. This area, especially, is where I've seen some of the most dangerous advice. Wouldn't bother me in the least if any discussion of specific medications was banned on the site.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                            Perfectly said. Except :) I'd like to see even generic meds, i.e., NSAIDs, etc. banned also. And equipment,i.e., glucose monitors. It doesn't seem that hard. And again, I really like what you wrote here. Thanks.

                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                              A glucometer is simply a tool for monitoring the effects of your food choices, similar to a scale or even a measuring cup. In the context of Special Diets, I have no problem at all referencing such tools.

                                                                              1. re: tcamp

                                                                                And I respectfully disagree. One monitors glucose levels for medical reasons. I think it's fine to post something like "I need to reduce my blood glucose and would like some food suggestions for doing that." Once you start getting into specific numbers, that's medical IMO.