Is there a recommended, in place approach on CH SE site to potentially suspicious questions
about sensitive chemistry topics like poisons, explosives, drugs etc?
Many of such questions manifest common signs triggering a red flag in my mind, like:
- The user with mostly zero or minimal serious question history
- The question is usually quite/very laconic, sometimes weirdly worded.
- There are minimal details about the intended task.
- There is typically no info about the purpose, background or context of the task.
- The user is often not communicative and does not, or just evasively respond to requests for clarifications
- The whole question gives the vibe the user is fishing for factual information he needs with providing as little info to community as possible.
Sometimes, there is later revealed more or less justified reason for usage, like some technical use for cyanide for electroplating, or extracting rare metals from electronic devices.
But that brings little moral or ethical problem: While the OP may have legitimate reasons, the answers are not posted to him. They are posted to the whole online world population. Google does not care about search reasons. Answers can be abused.
I have encountered these basic attitudes:
- Morality or ethics is not part of chemistry/science. We need not to care about that. It is the end user's responsibility to behave.
- Writing more or less comprehensive note, warning or disclaimer about not doing it out of specific scenario, or without needed knowledge or skills.
- Agreeing with me such disclaimers do not release authors of eventual answers from moral and in some cases eventually legal responsibility in case of abuse of such answer.
So, what is recommended coordinated attitude and how to deal with such questions?
I usually flag the question for mod review as a candidate of potential future abuse. But some questions are hard to decide. And some answers are "too useful".
- Poisons ( Does heating of potassium ferrocyanide with carbonate and carbon yield potassium cyanide?
- Explosives and expl. auxiliaries ( by same author: KNO3 fuse, wire heating,. could not find a direct explosive Q, but imagine there is some.)
- Drugs ( Asking about drug substances and intermediates, procedures and purifications., their products. E.g. multiple questions about amphetamine.