This question already has an answer here:
- Is “Don't do it” a valid answer? 12 answers
Such questions are inevitable. Technology makes guns, and questions on how to use them follow. How do I shoot [targets] [birds] [other people] [my own foot]. It's no surprise that we all see "how do I do the inadvisable" on many different subjects on the many variations of Stack Exchange. So how should you respond to someone asking how to shoot themselves in the foot?
Most/all of us immediately want to find out why the OP is asking. This is mainly prudence guard against accidents. But it isn't always possible for an OP to answer that question of "why". They've spent days analyzing it and the logic that led them to ask this question isn't simple to explain without pages of working. Or more commonly they're a little unclear themselves and are unable to explain why they want something, just that they really really want it and could someone tell them how please.
I've seen multiple ways of responding such questions including but not exclusively:
- Ignore the question. Move on and let the tumble weed deal with the OP. There's no shame in it.
- Assuming the OP has an XY problem and answering an entirely different question the OP didn't ask. This frequently frustrates the OP as they've put some thought into the fact that shooting themselves in the foot really is what that want.
- Endless lectures on the dangers of guns, both in comments and answers. Also frustrating the OP. See above
- Down voting the question. Even though the question is clear, well formed and posted on the right site for the subject. If one person has asked how to do it then the chances are that another will want to as well.
- Simply giving the answer to their question explaining how to load, aim and pull the trigger. I mildly prefer this but it does lead to concerns that future readers will fail to realize that an ambulance and hospital will be required.
These are merely my observations of what others do. I was wondering if the community has any ideas of best practice:
- How do we satisfy the OP and protect future readers?
- Do we need to do both these things?
- Should such questions worthy of down voting?
- Is it better to leave such questions unanswered, even if the technical answer is simple enough to give?