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    Let's discusss some project posting guidlines.


    I think we should eventually have a "Project Posting Guidelines" sticky in this forum. Primary among my reasons for this is to protect the general quality of this forum.

    I thought we could discuss this in this thread first and then if/when we have some general consensus, one of us can start the actual thread we'll turn into a sticky. This way we keep the noise out of the top-level stickies.

    Lets start with the definition of what a "Project Post" is:

    A project post is one which contains instructions for building any device; mechanical, electrical or otherwise; or the source code required to operate any electrical or electromechanical device; with the intent that others might follow said instructions or use said source code in the manner described. It does not include threads or posts asking for guidance, answering questions, editorializing or ... {others?}.


    And then talk a little about why we need some guidelines:

    1. Such posts actually accrue some liability to our host Devshed. If a project post describes how to build a maser, for instance; and some kid builds one and then fries his little sisters brains with it, that childs parents would likely sue DevShed AND whoever posted the project.

    2. Such posts actually accrue some liability to the poster, however anonymous they may think they are.

    3. Real people are going to go out and spend real money on the assumption that they have just read an authoritative post on how to build and program some widget. They should get their money's worth.

    4. We're going to accumulate a lot of them! Most won't be worth the time spent transmitting them to/from this site if we don't have some guidelines on how to post a good project description.

    5. Too many well intentioned posters will be inclined to start a project thread and then never get around to finishing it.

    {more?}

    And then talk about how best to address these points in our guidelines. Let the discussion begin.
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    Addressing issue #'s 1 and 2, I have the following recommended language:

    * Project posts should not describe how to build weapons of any kind; or devices intended to interfere with or disrupt the operation of any equipment or the activities of any person(s).

    * Project posts should include warnings if any parts are dangerous. If others point out safety issues or ask questions regarding them, you are required to address those issues promptly or your post may be removed. Remember your audience includes beginners who do not understand the subject matter well enough to avoid injury to themselves or others without some guidance. They will often be surprised by just how painful an injury some seemingly harmless devices can inflict upon them. Most hobbyists do not think about these things. If you are a hobbyist posting a project, you are advised to give the matter some thought up front, before you post.

    Does it include any moving parts, pinch points or sharp edges?
    Are there any high voltage (>12VDC or 5VAC) levels involved?
    Is there a potential for exposure to high frequency radiations?

    We don't want to scare you off. Just be reasonably safety conscious and there shouldn't be any problems.
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    And for issue #'s 3...5:

    * Do not post projects you have not built! If you have not built it, it's merely an idea and you are welcome to discuss such ideas provided they are presented in general discussion format and not passed off as a project. Project posts are intended for others to be able to follow and build. People will be spending money based on your say-so, so do make sure the project can be built and works as described before you post it.

    * Post the entire project all at once! It's ok (probably advisable) to break it up into separate posts, provided you have all the project description ready for posting and you follow through and post the entire project. Note that if you have large images and other files to include and your bandwidth is limited, you can be forgiven for taking some number of hours or days to complete the upload, but we expect to see the entire project ASAP and failure to complete within a reasonable period of time may result in the removal of your project.

    * Do seek a review of your project by at least one other member of this forum before you post it. This is not required, but is highly recommended. Be sure to address any issues that are brought up in that review. You can contact jwdonahue, {other volunteers?} by private message (just find one of their posts and click on their nym). Please do mention in your project post who performed your project review, if any.

    * Chose a descriptive project title.

    * Include a complete parts list.

    * Include a complete suppliers list. We don't care that you got your screws from Joe's Hardware, we do care that the project requires us to make a trip to the hardware store or go to a web site to find parts. So anything you can get at your local hardware store, we can also get at ours, you should mention Local hardware store in your list as well as any other parts suppliers you used to construct your project.

    * Do some research before posting your project. Have others posted similar projects on this forum or elsewhere? Please include references to them. Point out the differences between yours and theirs.

    {anything else?}
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    I think that a thread detailing step-by-step design and the thought process behind it as well as appropriate feedback is infinitely more useful than an instructables tutorial.

    As far as warnings go... have you ever heard of someone suing anyone for publishing how to make a Tesla coil? We're not throwing up detailed schematics for the Tsar Bomba here. Making a tesla coil or a coil gun is incredibly interesting and is a perfectly valid project for many things such as science fairs. I agree that we shouldn't be going into building a tazer or some such garbage.

    There's really nothing wrong with abandoning a project for quite a few reasons, too. Maybe it's too expensive, or impractical, or you just don't have enough time. A springboard for others to learn off your mistakes or accomplishments in a direction are certainly invaluable.

    My point is that I think as soon as you add too much structure things start being less fun.

    (I mean, have you seen the kids who played the mario theme song with a tesla coil? That's awesome. What if someone told them it was 'too dangerous'?)
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    Originally Posted by gimp
    ...What if someone told them it was 'too dangerous'?
    I guarantee you that if there was an knowledgeable adult in the room, somebody told them how dangerous it could be. Tesla coils can kill. That doesn't mean you should never build them into your projects. It just means you shouldn't tell someone to put one there without also warning them of the danger.

    Originally Posted by gimp
    have you ever heard of someone suing anyone for publishing how to make a Tesla coil?
    Yes. You can not only get sued for some forms of negligence, you can also be arrested and put in jail. There can sometimes be a fine line between criminal negligence and protected free speech. Hence, not being a lawyer myself, I always advice that you seek legal counsel when in doubt and always at least err on the safe side. The world is full of warnings and disclaimers for a reason.

    Originally Posted by gimp
    My point is that I think as soon as you add too much structure things start being less fun.
    Electrocution, dismemberment and death are not fun. Some fun activities can cause those things. If you promote those activities to others, you bare the responsibility to warn those people of the risks. It's just that simple.

    Look, I have strong libertarian leanings and despite certain moral beliefs regarding the sanctity of life, I'd like nothing more than to see more Darwin awards handed out every year (increases the fitness of the species), but I can't sit by idly while others deliberately or negligently encourage others to win those awards. They should be given the opportunity to erase their genes from the pool on their own.
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    Not to be a **** or anything, but please point out a case when someone published instructions to build a coil and got jailed. I can't believe that.
    Chat Server Project & Tutorial | WiFi-remote-control sailboat (building) | Joke Thread
    “Rational thinkers deplore the excesses of democracy; it abuses the individual and elevates the mob. The death of Socrates was its finest fruit.”
    Use XXX in a comment to flag something that is bogus but works. Use FIXME to flag something that is bogus and broken. Use TODO to leave yourself reminders. Calling a program finished before all these points are checked off is lazy.
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    Oops! Wrong node.
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    Originally Posted by gimp
    please point out a case when someone published instructions to build a coil and got jailed. I can't believe that.
    Don't think I said that. I believe I intimated that you could be jailed under some circumstances for criminal negligence and I had heard of someone suing someone over publishing how to make a Tesla coil without sufficient safety warnings, that did result in the death of an individual (think it was back in the 60's). I doubt it can be found yet on google, but if you have access to the court cases in all fifty states, you can probably find one or two such cases. You'll find far more cases regarding other equally dangerous but more common technologies.

    This is not the place to discuss that body of law really. I recommend that you do your research and as always in matters of law, that you seek counsel. Since you are a student, you can probably access free legal counsel through your school. I strongly advice that you do so. At least talk to a professor of law.

    Show me a Tesla coil "how-to" site that doesn't have safety warnings and disclaimers. On small systems, it's not the high voltage coil that is most likely to cause harm, it's the capacitors used in the primary. But both primary and secondary can be dangerous. Anyone knowing how dangerous they can be could be criminally negligent if they publish instructions on how to build them that do not include sufficient warnings.
    Last edited by jwdonahue; October 29th, 2009 at 02:58 AM.
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    Honestly mate, when you're worrying about idiots and trying to cover your *** you're not learning. This forum is really about learning, not proper safety guidelines... and I'd hate to see it turned into that.

    I'll worry about it when I get paid to worry about it. Until then, it's really your concern, not mine... if a mod sees a problem with anything I write they'll contact me directly or edit out the offending material.

    This is really a back-and-forth so I'd love to hear some opinions from other people too.
    Chat Server Project & Tutorial | WiFi-remote-control sailboat (building) | Joke Thread
    “Rational thinkers deplore the excesses of democracy; it abuses the individual and elevates the mob. The death of Socrates was its finest fruit.”
    Use XXX in a comment to flag something that is bogus but works. Use FIXME to flag something that is bogus and broken. Use TODO to leave yourself reminders. Calling a program finished before all these points are checked off is lazy.
    -Partial Credit: Sun

    If I ask you to redescribe your problem, it's because when you describe issues in detail, you often get a *click* and you suddenly know the solutions.
    Ches Koblents
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    Originally Posted by gimp
    This forum is really about learning, not proper safety guidelines...
    One should learn about safety considerations gimp.

    Look, I am only suggesting that there should be a distinction between an actual project thread and one that is more of a conceptual exchange of ideas; and that we are obligated by law and morality to at least provide some information regarding known risks and mitigation of those risks.
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