TL;DR There's probably something better you could do for the next half hour then read this.
Should they all begin with a pretext warning?
Should the OP's perceived ability tailor your context?
New user just asked a question for (a somewhat bad) example, and doesn't really sound like they should be poking around inside a breaker box. Where as, if someone spits out correct jargon I'd be inclined to just comment: Are you getting 220? (as I think they lost one of the incoming legs during a storm, but just blurting that out might not be the best idea to suggest as they might go sticking a VO meter into it, incorrectly)
(coherency from here on is suspect; it has become a dualistic question asking many ways to avoid giving poor advice and the diving-into of questions that for whatever reason, you shouldn't be. You have been warned)
I used to try to answer these questions but I couldn't deal with the fact of the possible ramifications of my answers. I know how to do... stuff. But most anything I know how to do was shown to me; not an online, bulleted blog: Ok, step one hold screwdriver in left hand... (erm, but I'm right handed)
Being given the steps to solve a problem is hardly the knowledge necessary to safely complete any electrical project.
Some questions sound like: Oh man, you really shouldn't be doing, what it is that you're doing.
- Should I continue to ignore electrical questions even though I may have some sound advice, trusting in SE that if it is bad, it will be vetted by the system (even though, that still wouldn't make me anymore comfortable answering)?
It may be that I don't trust my self to answer them first, sometimes even when it's pretty obvious what what they need to hear. (but sometimes it isn't and then begins the epic comments session, see below) The meta behind this being, what's to tell the difference between a valid question that's deserving of an answer, and someone that you shouldn't give one to.
For this I have a good example: I was helping diagnose hooking up new thermostat wires inside a furnace, where I then asked if they put the cover back on when they tried testing it. Of course that's because the panel closes the safety switch or it won't work. They figured this out themselves eventually, but it was information I was unwilling to give; not to keep trade secrets, but because if you didn't know, or couldn't figure it out; should you know?
Or is it of course (as always), on a case by case basis
But if that's true, doesn't it not matter what their 'case' is; SE is for the greater community at large. That information will be there for anyone at least smart enough to ask how.
Maybe I'm just paranoid. Or maybe this is some real world shit that can get you killed.
Simply put, on trouble-shooting questions especially, I'd guess we'd have to first establish the OP's comfort level, and then provide each necessary step for them. (and then whatever future readers do with this information is up to those people?)
Perhaps I've digressed... (Ya think?) Having basically answered my own question with one of my own mottoes: If you don't know, don't answer. So, one last try if you're still looking for a question somewhere in all this to possibly answer:
- What is a good method to access the OP's comfort level and avoid getting into a gigantic-comment exchange? (and the other thing, see below)
If I've rambled on into drivel, I apologize. Please feel free to poke holes in any of my logic or simply answer with, Yea dude, just go on to the next one. Or any pro-tips on ... well, frankly, everybody waking up tomorrow after reading one of my answers?
I think, some of this may be a valid concern that may be pertinent to other SE sites. Replace the word 'electric' with whatever that may be, and post any part of it, altering it however, and wherever you want. Or please feel inclined to post similar topics on your other sites, For Safety's Sake.
Because, as I was once told here in my early days on DiY.se, Sometimes the best answer is no.