Setting Guardrails?

One of the things I wonder, and worry, about as a content-creator (ugh, I hate that term) is how much responsibility is there to set and communicate the limitations/considerations/disclaimers around the things we create. Is there a duty to set guardrails? If so, what are those limits and is the value in the effort or the durability?

To be clear I don’t have a great answer for this. I do believe that there is some responsibility to protect other people by clearly outlining the applicability and limits of the thing I’m documenting/guiding/etc.; the more dangerous the thing, the more responsibility. It probably also varies by content domain. If your thing is jumping bikes off a mountain, you probably don’t have as great a duty to disclose risk as someone who’s wheelhouse is diving way to deep into smoke alarms; because it should be fairly obvious that jumping a bike off of something is inherently dangerous. Although, many of these types of videos do include a “do not attempt this at home” disclaimer before you get to the good stuff.

Personal examples of this, can be found in the amount of effort I put into reviews to figure out if something is safe, hold OEMs accountable, and document the importance of things like UL certification. But I struggle to define where those limits are, and that keeps me from doing some of the guides and posts that I might otherwise do.

If zero is “YOLO! Sorry about your house, bruh!”, and 100 is “I take full responsibility”. I wouldn’t say that anywhere close to 100 is reasonable. But, I also really struggle with anything that is less than 30 (just as a rough guess). Especially when explaining risk, and defining complications is fairly easy (most of the time), and skipping the potentially dangerous topics seems very sensible. But there is significant grey space in the middle, right?

I wouldn’t want someone to burn their house down, even tangentially, after watching my video on “how do coils impact the temperature of an extension cord while charging your EV on a 120V outlet”. That might sound like a crazy/stupid topic, but it’s actually something I started testing because I was curious. I keep a “heavy duty” outdoor rated extension cord in the frunk of my car, because stuff happens. The results were super interesting, but that one died in ethical review :D.

Maybe the problem is that I have too low a tolerance for risk. Or maybe the problem is that I see risk, both personal and external, in too many things. Again, I don’t have a great answer for this. But if I had to sum up my take in an easy to consume way. It would be “if you’re going to tell people about paint, and brushes, you should also mention the existence of corners”.

But I am curious about other’s think about this topic. What level of responsibility do those of us who do this sort of thing have for disclosing risk? What level of responsibility do we have for documenting inherently risky things?


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10 months ago

It’s a informative article. Thanks for share it.