2
$\begingroup$

Within the proposed FAQ, there is an entry:

questions about techniques in a biological or biochemical laboratory

I think this is spot on. Certainly, if people have problems with a host of procedures or how to accomplish X with Y, we should welcome those questions.

A question like Is there a cheap and easy way to check for potentially unsafe UV exposure? gives me a bit of pause. It's about equipment used to view gels, but it's more about maintenance of said equipment, rather than the role of such in experimental procedures. It's a fine question, but it introduces the possibility of "should I use a power meter (and what kind) to check the mains power when my power supply for electrophoresis won't work? I think the answer of "use a UV meter" is evidence that this question is answerable without requiring any specific biology knowledge.

There was some question as to whether this would be considered off topic, so I figured that opening up the discussion to all, as well as attempting to examine some of the issues with the nascent FAQ would be pertinent.

$\endgroup$
4
$\begingroup$

You're making a good point, and we certainly need to draw a line somewhere and keep the questions here relevant to Biology. I'm just not sure where exactly we should draw the line.

With this specific example, I'd still say it should be on-topic as I don't want to declare any laboratory safety questions as off-topic.

I agree that a question about checking or reparing a power supply for some lab equipment would be solidly off-topic. Though I think troubleshooting lab equipment would be generally on-topic here, but it needs to keep to the end-user side, repairing equipment would be off-topic.

I don't know where exactly to draw the line there, I'd suggest that we just wait a bit and revisit this once we have more questions like this.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Sure, again, I'm not fixated on this one case in particular. I won't mark this as an answer yet, then. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Feb 20 '12 at 9:52
3
$\begingroup$

I would say that those types of research related questions are extremely valuable. As we all know, most of research is relearning what is already known and this website should not try to hinder any attempt to improve that.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you, I just don't want it to degrade into "What do I do when our electric pencil sharpener in the lab gets clogged when I'm writing notes about my gels?" $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Mar 16 '12 at 8:01
2
$\begingroup$

I think the questions should definitely be permitted if they relate to lab safety. Having said this, I think any question related to use or upkeep of lab equipment is also worthwhile as it something useful in biological experimentation (especially on how to calibrate or verify device operation). Just my $0.02.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .