8

Frequently there will be "hire a professional" answers which are not really answers; it's just punting because you could give that answer to EVERY single question on the site. This site is about doing it yourself, so when somebody answers "hire a tradesman", that seems non-responsive to me. I think there should be guidance in the help to the effect that making answers that say "xyz is dangerous, hire a professional" with no self-help option described be considered "not an answer" and flagged/deleted as such.

Just to clear: I propose that the help state a policy that all answers must have at least one self-help suggestion and that answers that consist only of warnings and the advice to hire a professional are not constructive per the purpose of the site which is do-it-yourself.

I think it is ok to add a professional help option to an answer IF IT INCLUDES A SELF-HELP OPTION TOO, but just warnings and get-a-pro advice should be flaggable as not answers.

Once again the reason for this is that EVERY question on the site could be "answered" with the statement "What you are proposing is possibly difficult or dangerous so you should hire a professional."

  • 3
    Is there an actual problem with every question getting answered with "Hire a professional", or is this completely hypothetical? Sometimes the answer really is "if you have to ask, don't". – GManNickG Mar 9 '16 at 18:50
  • 1
    Relevant: most of the stuff on this list. What projects should never be DIY? – Mazura Mar 9 '16 at 22:43
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    Sometimes you feel like being gentle, so instead of saying, "the text of your question and my reading of your abilities indicates that you'll electrocute yourself if you go anywhere near your panel", one says, "get a pro". I sincerely believe that there are some questioners that should not get a self-help answer. – Aloysius Defenestrate Mar 14 '16 at 3:05
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    @AloysiusDefenestrate Then your answer or comment should take a moment and explain that. It's good practice to be able to do that while hedging for hte possibility of being wrong, not being insulting, and where possible giving the user a path to overcome that barrier themselves. Not everyone is too stupid to learn, and it's a good singn if they go through the motions to create an account. – Harper May 19 '16 at 20:46
14

As long as the answer explains why you need to hire a professional then it should be OK, for example domestic electrical and gas work must be signed off by a registered person in the UK.

However, providing an answer that explains what the professional will do is providing a benefit. It means that:

  1. You've educated someone about a system they may have to deal with in an emergency to make it safe. Knowing how it works will potentially help with that.
  2. You've given someone the information they need to be able to talk to said professional in a knowledgeable manner and understand when the less scrupulous professional might be trying to "pull a fast one" or otherwise put the customer at a disadvantage.
  • There's a corollary to this, and that is "just because someone's a pro doesn't mean they can solve every last exotic problem in their field out-of-hand"; in some cases, I'll say "if you don't feel comfortable with this, feel free to give this post to a tradesman" because my answer isn't something that your average tradesman can just whip out and do offhand – ThreePhaseEel May 23 at 2:47
10

My standard response when someone suggests hiring a profession is:

"While this may be accurate, just about every question on a DIY site can be answered "get a professional." If a project is impractical for DIY (such as requiring specialized tools or a license to handle the equipment, e.g. HVAC coolant) then be sure to explain that. Otherwise, the answers we are looking for should educate someone how to do a task and then explain when they cannot do it themselves."

The mods will miss these from time to time, so please flag them as you see them, and if you have the reputation, vote to delete them.

3

These are the absolute worst answers on the site. If this will be accepted then the DIY needs to be taken out of the subdomain.

Sure there are lots of cases that something probably can only be done by a professional - maybe because they have certain tools, maybe because there are local requirements or even if you think the OP will be put in too much danger. But we are not here to play God. We simply answer it and give the facts.

On the other side of this the answers here on this specific question are fine but they are forgetting that a lot of users don't have "professionals" for everything or that their pros could be of very low quality. I flag, vote down, or vote to delete any answer that is primarily hire a professional. And I find it rather annoying that this would ever be an answer from a person who frequents the site. Can you imagine on SO if someone said... "Well the code you need to write for your script is rather complex, my answer is you should just outsource it."??? Same deal here. Hire a professional is obviously a COMMENT that you would make directed at the OP.

On another side what if OP asks about some electrical calculations - maybe something that is not set in stone - and you say hire an electrician... and they are an electrician?

2

The whole point if DIY is to LEARN to do things yourself without the professionals. If something requires a permit or license to be done legally you there might be a case but in some states like Pennsylvania you need a permit to re-hang a door. From what I have seen certain topics are much more subject to this scrutiny. Such as DIY electrical. I think it's very counter intuitive to stonewall someone and tell them to hire a pro when you know that they are going to try it anyway without the professional guidance you might have gave them.

Residential electrical wiring is no more difficult than plumbing or framing. There is a level of inherent risk but that risk drops off quickly as you are educated on the subject. I'm not a professional electrician but I can wire a house to code just as easily as I can install a toilet.

Final thoughts: If you don't know, leave your two cents out. If you do, know that this person is going to try it anyway, so you might as well tell him what he needs to know or tell him what he should reference.

1

Given questions like today's instance of "I tried to repair me electric stove, and wehen I plug it in I smell smoke -- did I do something wrong", I'm afraid that the right answer_is_ sometimes " yes, but it sounds like you don't even know enough that I could talk you through how to find and fix it safely; this really needs someone more experienced on site to show you how to handle it properly. " I don't care if that is a pro or a more experienced amateur, but it really does need to be someone who can handle this as an extended discussion... which is explicitly not what SE is supposed to be for.

Talking down a novice who is in over his head has to be done in real-time, or near to. A crowdsourced FAQ entry, which is what SE is designed to produce, isn't the right tool.

0

There's times when "call an electrician" is necessary to prevent the DIY users here from killing themselves and others. The fact that you deleted my answer, which was the TOP ANSWER with 30+ votes, indicates that this individual lacked the proper education necessary to perform basic troubleshooting and they were ALREADY a risk to themselves so trying to explain anything else is foolish and hazardous.

This might be a DIY forum but you can't expect someone that blindly drilled into a wall and almost killed themselves by hitting a 50 amp cable to follow detailed instructions on splicing techniques and safely mitigating the dangers they have already created.

The moderators/admins that deleted/locked that answer in that thread and deleted my answer are the ones responsible for killing people that come here thinking that electrical work can be done by the amateur DIY homeowner and handyman.

House fires kill over 550 people every year, over 350,000 house fires in the USA are caused by electrical fires every year, and someone dies in a fire every 88 seconds... You keep deleting the correct answer and the best advice and you're directly responsible for killing people.

  • 1
    For reference for anyone reading this, the answer for diy.stackexchange.com/questions/164379/… was "Call an electrician, you're in over your head and bringing in a professional is the only recommendation which can be safely made here." In fact, the OP did call in a professional. But it could have been a DIY repair for someone with a little more skill. Having a line like this answer as part of an answer is perfectly fine. The problem is that without explanation of why this is "not a DIY", it is... – manassehkatz May 12 at 14:17
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    effectively useless. Perhaps with information about concerns of proper splicing techniques behind a wall, using the right cable (NOT the usual 12 or 14 AWG stuff), etc. maybe that would be OK. But by itself it becomes equivalent to "call a doctor" for any ache or pain. I know of instances where seemingly (to non-doctors) "just another little ache or pain" is really a sign of something BIG (e.g., one recently that turned out to be "get to the ER --> emergency brain surgery" (literally)), the nature of DIY SE is to thoughtfully consider all options before jumping to "call the pros". – manassehkatz May 12 at 14:22
  • So put on the headstone " I wish I had called a professional"... – Solar Mike May 13 at 11:12
  • And you're expecting a typical resi Romex flinger to be any better than a DIY at what counts re electrical fires much of the time (aka torque at terminations) why? Newsflash: they aren't! To quote the article: "While the electricians were slightly more likely to over tighten connections than the entire group of participants, it is clear that they are no better at achieving a proper connection than someone with no experience as an electrician." – ThreePhaseEel May 17 at 1:02

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