IANAL - I am not a lawyer.

IANAD - I am not a doctor.

IANAV - I am not a veterinarian.

Some of us are giving some form of even mild medical advice here. Those who do, or feel we should, need to pre- or post-fix our posts (or even our accounts!) with some sort of "I am not a veterinarian" note. I've been doing this when this happens.

I think we should have some sort of standard post to be used (copied and pasted) into our posts.

Should we, and if so, what should it look like?

Here are some answers where the person posting has done so (validly) from an experience / reference standpoint, but recommends a veterinarian for further information, indicating that they are, themselves, not veterinarians.

Apologies in advance if you posted one of these answers and are a vet; you didn't indicate it in your post.

Answers stating not a vet:

Answers should probably state IANAV:

Answers stating consult a vet (implied IANAV; statement not necessarily obvious):

  • 1
    Is there some problem that has come up that makes you think we need these now? I can support it if there is a good reason but until there is a need we should probably hold off imo.
    – user9
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 2:56
  • Being proactive. I've typed it enough times so far that I planned to set up a standard disclaimer for myself. Figured if I was to do it, it might be a useful global utility. Having the input of others on it would help.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 3:05
  • 1
    You could argue the first applies to all SE sites, the second to many of them, and the last to one or two. I wonder if this hasn't happened for a reason? It may already be covered in the general legal text linked on every site. I'm not a lawyer (grin), but it seems to read that way to me.
    – Joanne C
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 5:24

3 Answers 3


On Mi Yodeya, where questions of practical application of Jewish law can arise, we took a slightly different approach. We don't have a guideline or fixed text for "I am not a rabbi" language; first, people are free to say what they want about themselves, and second, even if somebody is a rabbi, that doesn't make him your rabbi. A random rabbi on the net, like a random doctor, lawyer, or vet, is not in a client relationship with any given reader and so is not giving that kind of personal advice.

Instead, we encourage people to consult a rabbi. Posts where it's relevant link to our CYLOR entry in our glossary.

We also have a note in the wiki for the tag where this is most likely to come up, advising people that the site doesn't give personal advice and for that consult a rabbi.

We also have this language (in bold) in the help center under "what to ask":

Like Wikipedia, this site makes no guarantee of validity, and does not offer professional (particularly rabbinic) advice. Treat information you find here as if it came from a crowd of your friends.

I'm not sure a special post/link/term is needed here, but if it is, it should focus on the guidance ("consult a vet"), not on the poster ("I am not a vet"... but what if someone is?). Either way, cautionary language in the wikis for certain tags (like "medicine") and in the help center seems like a good idea.

  • "That doesn't make him your rabbi" - I'd like to think the guidelines for vets (science) are a little stricter and less subject to interpretation than those of religion (faith), meaning for the same question, I'd expect the same answer from 2 vets, but wouldn't be surprised by different answers from 2 rabbis.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 14:45
  • I don't think they're so far apart. In both areas a good answer will cite sources and show its work; in both fields there are sources (and thus interpretations) that disagree with each other. I got all sorts of conflicting advice on a previous cat's complicated medical problems, too. But either way, the point is that this site in general doesn't give that kind of personal advice, so I'm suggesting more of a "reader beware" approach instead of a "poster disclim" one. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 15:12
  • I do like that text and see no problem with adding that (with Veterinary replacing rabbinic) to the Help Center.
    – user9
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 15:16

I do not mean this rudely so please do not take it that way.

Putting IANAV Text into the FAQ is essentially the same as putting it into every answer as a footer. It does not belong in either place.

If you feel the need to add IANAV/D/L before something are you sure that you should actually be giving the advice? If you are not comfortable that someone might take your suggestion and use it then perhaps it is better that you not share that advice/opinion.

I think it is better that a question go unanswered than to have it answered poorly or with bad information. If someones first encounter with the site is that question and the only answer is you explaining why its ok to give your rabbit raw meat regularly, or suggesting that you can bob a year old dogs tail painlessly then there is a good chance that that viewer is never coming back. We need good content to attract and keep people here. Not just any content.

In these places I think referenced material to back up any claims are important and if you can find other places that share your opinion/suggestion I think that helps too. But if you feel the need to point out that you are not an authority that can make the claims or opinions then you should either not share them, or be able to explain why you have the opinion. If you can explain your reasons then you do not need to state explicitly that you are not a licensed professional.

So if you think your answer should have an IANA_ ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is the information I am giving likely giving someone that I am a professional __?
  2. Am I the wrong person to be giving this advice in this manner?
  3. Would it bother me if I saw someone else post this that was not a professional __?

If the answer is yes to any or all of these then you should look at your answer and see if it can be reworked to address the problems you have found in your post. If you still feel the need for an IANA_ Then include it. But if you find yourself including it in practically every answer then I think you should really get more critical with yourself regarding the questions above.

  • 1
    I am comfortable giving advice based on my experience, which is what has been encouraged. If it is regarding the well-being of an animal, and I've had experience in the area, I am willing and will relate the experience, but I will actively NOT (and have actively NOT) present myself as a veterinarian.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 4:09
  • 1
    Especially in cases where the question of health is concerned. And neither should anyone else who wants to share their experience to aid someone asking the question.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 4:20
  • @JoshDM - I would never suggest you should. Explain your experience and that should clear up any mistaken assumption that you might be answering as a vet
    – user9
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 16:41
  • 1
    There are a few of us who will give our suggestions and include references or say where we're coming from. My answers usually include my experience with the issue in question and if possible another source that backs my statement (such as internet pet health sites, or "my vet said"). I think in these cases it's pretty obvious I'm not a vet and not giving vet-level answers. Skippy references her answers extensively (so do others: Skippy is just the one I remember)
    – Kate Paulk
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 11:39
  • I have revised the answer because on rare occasions including IANA_ in an answer is probably appropriate. I had not intended to infer than it was never approriate but as I reread it today I could see how others might take it that way.
    – user9
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 14:06
  • This answer does not address the question. This answer, in its current (and prior) form is to debate whether one should put IANA in a post when they feel it appropriate. I already know the answer to that (it is yes). The question asked is should we have some standard boilerplate for people to copy and paste or reference to from the FAQ to explain their decision to include IANAV/IAAV in their post, rather than have to explain a disclaimer every time and in a myriad of individual ways.
    – JoshDM
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 14:56
  • Putting it into the FAQ is the equivelent of putting it into every answer IMO. I have made that explicit in the answer
    – user9
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 15:10

At this time, this is a preliminary answer and would need serious enhancement. That having been stated, here is how I would fix this:

  • Put an IANAV entry in the Pets FAQ that is linkable and permanent.
    • It should read "IANAV - I Am Not A Veterinarian"
    • It should have some text similar to

IANAV indicates the poster is posting potential medical advice and is not a certified veterinarian (for example a {name of some agency that certifies vets} vet). The posted medical advice should be taken with as much caution as possible. Consult a veterinarian if you have concerns.

  • Since you can't have cake and eat it too, have an IAAV entry in the Pets FAQ.
    • It should read "IAAV - I Am A Veterinarian"
    • It should have some text similar to

IAAV indicates the poster is posting potential medical advice and claims to be a certified veterinarian (for example a {name of some agency that certifies vets} vet). Check the poster's profile for clarification. SE is not responsible for claims of unverified veterinarians. Consult a veterinarian if you have concerns.

Either of these could be provided with standard cut-n-pastes for posters to use in posts :

[IANAV](link to entry in FAQ)

[IAAV](link to entry in FAQ)

Yes, no, maybe?

  • 6
    What if the person answering is a vet?
    – Baarn
    Commented Oct 25, 2013 at 22:32
  • What if the person commenting and his upvoters didn't read the answer where that is already covered?
    – JoshDM
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 3:02
  • 3
    On the internet everyone is a dog. I think adding IAAV only gives false security. I am not completely sure about the legality, but from an ethical standpoint no veterinarian should give medical advice over the internet.
    – Baarn
    Commented Oct 26, 2013 at 8:13

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