I hate to be the killjoy, and I'm certainly not fond of many of the laws concerning alcohol in the U.S., but we should probably discuss how we want to handle questions and answers that touch on activities that are technically illegal. For example: distilling - actual and pseudo (like "ice-distilling"); shipping alcohol; etc.

2 Answers 2


Discussing things that are clearly illegal in most places (murder, rape, genocide, copyright infringement) is probably out, of course. However, we may well have visitors from many states and many countries. The things you listed are not illegal everywhere. Further, even with asking advice specifically to break the law, I don't think it's too bad (I'm thinking of the 'how do I get away with shipping beer' example)- it's not that serious of a crime; wouldn't have any problem with people asking how to get away with jaywalking.

To sum up, I think we should only worry about prohibiting those questions that are:

  • Specifically aimed at breaking the law (ie, not just something that is often associated with breaking that law- "how do I do X" vs "how do I get away with X without being arrested"
  • Dealing with a crime that's pretty widely considered illegal (across most states and countries)
  • Something we generally consider to be pretty bad (eg, drunk driving, but not shipping beer).
  • 3
    + 1 use your head, we're all (mostly) adults here.
    – PMV
    Nov 11, 2010 at 18:05
  • 1
    I think most of us beta users can use our heads, but once we open up to the populace at large, we need to at least have some guidelines in the FAQ. I think Fishtoaster's answer is a good start on what our FAQ entry could look like. Nov 11, 2010 at 21:40
  • For the FAQ, perhaps guidance should be: if you see a question that falls under "how do I get away with X without being arrested", flag it for a moderator. If you see a question that is asked innocently, but is illegal in some places, add this important detail to your answer (or as a comment to the question.)
    – Mike S
    Nov 22, 2010 at 4:48

Distilling in the US isn't actually illegal. It is only illegal if you don't get the $500 permit (from ATF?).

I don't think the community needs to be responsible for checking if people have the appropriate permits before answering their questions (ie: bullet point 1 of fishtoaster's post) -- unless it is specifically mentioned that they want to break the law.

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