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How do we want to handle questions about drug use ("hard drugs", steroids, prescription drugs, etc.) when asked in the context of academic performance enhancements? See examples:

These might be poor health choices, but there is a slippery slope if we censor.

Does this answer change if the questions are about other potentially unhealthy activities not related to recreational drugs?

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Just because we can answer questions about drugs, doesn't mean we have to.

We've had a similar situation with "Hackintosh" questions and concluded that

we didn't want to build a reputation for encouraging something that may or may not be illegal, so it was decided to stay safe rather than sorry.

We also had a similar discussion on Gaming regarding cheating (particularly in multiplayer games). Here the conclusion was:

I don't care about cheating in single-player games / game modes at all, but cheats in multiplayer games (including using external programs like wallhacks and such) are absolutely deplorable, and I would hate to see this site turn into a place where you can get answers to questions regarding cheats in multiplayer games.

I don't care one bit about people using drugs, I live in the Netherlands where we have legal coffeeshops and I grew up in a street with at least 2 of them.

However, I would hate to see this site turn into a place where we advocate the best way to use drugs. If you want to improve your performance, I'll gladly help you come up with a better training program, but if you decide to take the easy way out... Good luck elsewhere

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  • 1
    This proposal area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/26294/drugs-and-pharmacology is clearly about drugs which are illegal (in many places) and seemed to reach the opposite conclusion. To quote Evan's comment: That statement would be akin to legal technology use. On StackOverflow, we don't badger users asking if they reside in Iran, or if they're developing crypto for export... I see no reason why we should be concerned about the application here either. I think the community will be pretty good at dissuading juveniles and addicts from participation. – Nobody May 20 '11 at 18:45
  • @rmx, you are aware of Evan's trolling status on our network? – Ivo Flipse May 20 '11 at 19:20
  • haha no, but I think he's right about that nontheless. – Nobody May 20 '11 at 19:22
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I don't see why special considerations need to be made. In the scope of the site, drug use is almost always considered off topic. If one were to ask if marijuana had x, y, and z health benefits, it would very reasonably be closed as off topic, because the site isn't about something as broad as health and wellness. I have yet to see anyone dispense medical advice beyond 'see a doctor'. We simply deal with effectively working toward physical fitness and proper nourishment. The linked topic is certainly a weird question, but the thrust of it is on topic and so are the answers given. My main motivation behind my 'let's not have this discussion again' crack was that I personally felt the question was idiotic and obvious. No freaking duh, using cocaine is bad for you!

But in the general case, I see no reason why the simple truth won't suffice. "Doping" substances, be they cocaine, human growth hormone, or whatever have you, are not the way to work toward true fitness and proper nutritional balance. We can simply say that and move on.

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This community has three options:

  • Write a thoughtful and thorough canonical answer outlining why these performance-enhancing substances have no place in a legitimate discussion "nutrition and fitness" (assuming that is the case) … and close all future questions on the topic as a duplicate of that thorough, canonical post.
  • Explicitly prohibit questions (via the FAQ) regarding "widely" illicit or prohibited performance-enhancing substances — Simply as a matter of community preference and convention.
  • Answer the question in the context they are asked.
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I think as long as the answers to the question are:

  • responsible and aren't going to cause the asker to harm themself
  • or put themself at risk
  • and the question is actually nutrition or fitness related,

then these types of questions are OK.

There are plenty of supplements - do we disallow questions about only the illegal ones? What about doping? There is also a grey area about questions concerning new chemicals which may not be illegal, but which can eaily be every bit as harmful as an illegal substance.

My point is that it's pretty pointless to distinguish between legal/illegal and close questions solely on that basis.

Besides, any cut in traffic to this site would be harmful considering the statistics at the moment (we are very close to having a 'worrying' number of visits/day and questions/day.)

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    I don't think the statistics should have any influence on our judgement. I'd rather worry how to get users to ask more questions about working out, than allow these questions. – Ivo Flipse May 20 '11 at 19:19
  • So are you saying we should disallow questions based on whether or not they ask about illegal substances? If so, illegal in which country? – Nobody May 20 '11 at 19:27
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    I don't care that its illegal, I just don't think we should give the topic any attention, because we could spent it on more 'positive' and less dubious things. It also prevents any discussion in the future – Ivo Flipse May 20 '11 at 20:50

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