We just got another "is this equipment safe to use" question (https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/115859/burn-mark-inside-microwave-still-safe-to-use) . Since we are not qualified to answer such questions, can we please make "Equipment/electrical safety" off-topic?

Suggested text for the off-topic item in the help center at https://cooking.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic:

"Equipment or electrical safety (e.g. "Is this microwave still safe to use"): instead, please have a qualified professional inspect the appliance."

  • Well, my suggestion is that "is this safe" questions regarding eletrical/gas appliances should be off-topic. We're not electricians or oven techs, as a rule. Other questions about repairing kitchen appliances might be on-topic, but I think safety ones should be off-topic. – FuzzyChef May 29 at 22:38
  • I just remembered that moderators have a way to make Meta questions visible on the front page in that small "Featured" box. I am doing it for this question, so it can gather answers and votes for and against the suggestion. Also edited the text so people won't be confused that this is a discussion of scope. – rumtscho May 31 at 11:51
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    These questions are generally not welcome on Electrical Engineering either. I can't answer for DIY but it could be on-topic there if a microwave is a "large appliance" but not if it is a "small appliance". – pipe Jun 9 at 22:20
  • @pipe changed the suggested text to suit. – FuzzyChef yesterday

Narrow definition

Currently, the community tends to close questions about damaged electrical equipment, since that would need an electrician to look at the specific piece of equipment before labeling it safe. But when a piece of equipment is working properly, a cook can be expected to know how to use it safely.

So the change to scope should exclude exactly questions about the safety of using electric equipment that has been damaged. Any other questions, such as "is it safe to place X in a microwave/on a stovetop", or about modding one's equipment, can be answered.


This sounds like a reasonable idea. Before we proceed, I would like us to make sure that we are on the same page about what we are declaring out of scope, as this will guide future closure behavior, including mod-hammering.

I took a look at our current state of the tag . The top questions seem to revolve around the safety of food being cooked in microwave ovens:

So the question is, what is it exactly that we want to make off-topic?

I am going to post two answers to this question, with different definitions of the new scope. Everybody is welcome to upvote the one they prefer, or post further suggestions for voting.

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    I just voted for the Narrow scope, based partly on those questions. Like, questions about "which foods will catch fire in the microwave" seem 100% possible for us to answer. – FuzzyChef May 31 at 18:29

Broad definition

Cooks are not electricians. They will likely know how a piece of equipment will behave under typical use, but they cannot predict the risks of atypical use. Also, they may frequently hold popular opinions about safety which differ from those of specialists, for example using a mixer that is plugged into daisy-chained electric cords and considering that safe.

Stack Exchange sites work well for experts explaining a situation to people who wish to learn. And a hallmark of a good expert is to know the limits of their own knowledge. So when we get a question on the lines of "is it safe to do X", where X contains operating electrical equipment, we should close the question - not because we don't have a personal opinion on this (many of us do) but because we recognize that we are not electricians and we have no guarantee that we have not fallen prey for some common mistake ourselves.

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