I recently submitted an edit for a question asking "Is [medical technique] a hoax?" changing it to "Is [medical technique] efficacious?"

Calling it a hoax suggests that the proponents are deliberately being misleading and fradulent, as opposed to just being wrong.

IANAL, but I fear this may be libellous.

Did I do the right thing, or am I being overly paranoid due to the chilling effect of libel laws?

Do we have a general position on calling people deliberate liars and frauds (as opposed to mistaken)?


2 Answers 2


The purpose of this site is to answer questions, I don't think it is necessary to call people frauds to do that. We should attack their claims, not the persons themselves. We should try to maintain a neutral and objective tone while mercilessly debunking pseudoscience.

My position is not based on any fear of litigation, The SE team has in my experience never intervened to avoid legal gray areas, they seem unconcerned about about being sued.

But I think calling people liars and frauds (even when I'm of the opinion that they really are those) is not necessary. We should debunk their claims and let the evidence speak for itself.


You (or me, or Stackoverflow Inc) did not wrote those lines. Even if there will be any legal issue, it will be against the person who wrote the text, and I do not think it is necessary for you to care about it.

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