This thread was closed as asking for legal advice:

How can I minimize the risks of moonlighting in violation of my contract?

This does not seem to fall under the guidelines discussed in the linked meta thread:

Other questions which I consider OK are ones where the answer would be "You need to read your contact" or "You need to consult with a lawyer".


For instance, if someone asks, "Is it legal to turn a blind eye to fraud by a superior?" it is going to be a legal question, but asking, "What are my responsibilities in regards to reporting fraud by a superior?" the legal side would only be one aspect, and the answer would have value since it would say more than just, "Consult a lawyer."

I would appreciate re-open votes (I have already issued mine), and while I understand it is easy to click 'close', I would urge people to take time to make sure the question is really off-topic (it can't be answered within site guidelines as addressed in the help center and on this meta), and that it can't be saved by an edit and turned in to a productive question.

Prior to my edit the question had already collected 1 close vote from jcmeloni I believe.

  • 2
    Asking how to subvert or dodge a contract seems to be pretty clearly asking legal advice to me. It can be interesting to try to answer these questions but it seems like dangerous ground to me. – Nicole Sep 3 '13 at 23:09
  • 1
    @NickC Asking what the law says about violating a contract is asking for legal advice. How to limit consequences of violating a contract is a multi-tiered question, of which one tier is 'consult an attorney' (note that this answer doesn't even discuss the law and addresses the question). Asking how to do it legally would be off-topic for sure, asking how to minimize the risk involves a legal aspect, but also involves some common sense. It is also an issue many face -- lots of people moonlight in violation of their contracts. – jmac Sep 3 '13 at 23:34
  • 1
    Yes, I voted to close the question as clearly asking for legal advice and therefore off topic, as @NickC noted. Although it is not explicitly stated in the FAQ, I also interpret "asking for ways to subvert a legal contract" as off-topic as well. – jcmeloni Sep 4 '13 at 0:21
  • @jcmeloni When you say 'clearly asking for legal advice' what standards are you using? The close reason links to the thread above, which contains the quotes I provided, and wouldn't suggest it is asking for legal advice. If the issue is asking for ways to subvert a contract, we discussed how to deal with questions that could be used for not-so-good purposes. The conclusion: "SE sites are here to share accurate and "expert" knowledge. Its not their responsibility to police how their users use the knowledge they gain from the sites." – jmac Sep 4 '13 at 0:29
  • If there were a manufacturing.se, and a manufacturer asked, "I have a product that has the potential to harm users. How can I minimize my chances of being sued?" it should be well on topic, and not a legal question either. Answers could be anything from, "Consult a lawyer" to "Be sure the dangers are clearly stated" to "Do your best to minimize the chance the design of the product will cause harm under proper use" Assuming that this question is asking for legal advice or that it is asking for a "how-to" guide on being evil seems to not match previous meta discussions here... – jmac Sep 4 '13 at 0:32
  • 1
    @jmac Asking what the law says about violating a contract is asking for legal advice. I think it's the opposite, actually. The purpose of an attorney is in interpretation and application of the law. So how to limit consequences is exactly the realm of needing legal advice. – Nicole Sep 4 '13 at 0:58
  • 1
    @jmac "I have a product that has the potential to harm users. How can I minimize my chances of being sued?" actually I'm afraid I'd consider that off-topic by the same standards. I'm not saying it's a great situation; I would love it if we could answer these questions. But I just don't think we can do so adequately. It's too dangerous. – Nicole Sep 4 '13 at 0:59
  • @NickC In my (very numerous) dealings with lawyers (in common law jurisdictions), a lawyer will never say, "You should..." because the law is interpreted by judges who are not required to follow the letter of the law as in civil law jurisdictions. So if you ask a lawyer "How can I minimize my risk?" the advice will consist of examples of how the law is applied -- not what the client should do. The client is expected to take the legal advice as one aspect of decision making. – jmac Sep 4 '13 at 1:03
  • @NickC In my answer to the question, what part of it is dangerous? Or how is this answer something that we shouldn't be answering? I see it as a common enough problem with non-legal common sense solutions (like not competing, and being prepared to take a huge hit to your personal reputation regardless of the ultimate legality of having a no moonlighting clause). And I don't need to be a lawyer to point that out. – jmac Sep 4 '13 at 1:06
  • 2
    @jmac It is dangerous in that the user may walk away thinking "alright, I think I'm covered" when they are not -- members of this community are not vetted for expertise. Upvotes are certainly no substitute for real qualifications. This situation is fine for many topics, as SE has shown; but there are situations where there is no substitute for a certifiable professional qualification. We should never place our readers in the situation where they might believe what they have been given is an adequate substitute. – Nicole Sep 4 '13 at 1:14
  • @NickC Were I saying, "If you don't compete then there won't be a problem" I would totally agree. Were the question, "How can I prevent having any legal consequences?" I would agree. But neither is the case, the question is how to minimize risk, and the first response I gave is "Contact a lawyer to figure out legal consequences". The lawyer will not advise on any consequences related to reputation as it isn't part of his expertise, and should be a significant consideration for the person asking. Lawyers are not magical experts of consequences, they are experts in the law alone. – jmac Sep 4 '13 at 1:27
  • @NickC My job involves contract negotiation. We use lawyers all the time. The lawyers can tell us the legal consequences of adding/removing a clause, but they cannot tell us whether the risk profile makes good business sense (nor should they!). We can hire a consultant to tell us if the risk profile makes good business sense, but those consultants cannot tell us how to word the contract (unless they hire a lawyer). At the end of the day, someone needs to look at all components and make a decision, and this question should focus on telling the asker where to look. – jmac Sep 4 '13 at 1:29
  • 1
    @NickC - I never asked for any form of legal advice - I asked how I can manage around the risk, whether that risk is with the law, my reputation, my relationships, my business prospects, my character, etc is up to the reader to interpret. Those who are voting to close based on a potentially dangerous interpretation are being a bit too protective, IMO. FWIW, jmac's response beats out any other info I could find anywhere else on the web in terms of quality & coverage, so IMO it would be in the best interest of the community to keep it open. Else I might be acting on advice via Yahoo Answers – RobVious Sep 6 '13 at 0:55
  • @NickC, one parting comment if you read the TOS of Stack Exchange: "To the fullest extent allowed by law, Stack Exchange disclaims any liability or responsibility for the accuracy, reliability, availability, completeness, legality or operability of the material or services provided on this Network." If someone takes code pasted on SO assuming it will work without evaluating it themselves, and it wipes out their database, that is also dangerous, yet SE protects themselves legally, and assumes the users take responsibility for interpreting contents of the site. We should too. – jmac Nov 7 '13 at 1:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .