Warning on advice given here

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After a recent student issue I learned about this weekend, I wanted to post something explaining the difference between the Safety and Training board here on DZ.com and your local DZ.

At most DZ's, students are easily spotted. They are wearing student jumpsuits and use student gear. When they're not jumping, they look, well, new. Most up-jumpers know to not give advice to students, or to carefully tailor their advice to students. While someone with 2000 jumps might tell someone with 1000 jumps that it's OK to take it to 1800 feet if there is someone above them, they would not tell a student that, because a) often there WILL be someone sort of above them (like a cameraman filming their opening) and b) it's not OK for students to pull at 1800 feet. The exact same advice, given by an expert, can be correct for one set of jumpers and completely wrong for another set. Upjumpers at a DZ know this and give out advice accordingly.

In addition, at your local DZ, it's pretty clear who the experts are. They are the people spotting the loads, organizing the big-ways, teaching the students, running the swoop contest. You can easily see if they really _are_ an expert in what they claim to be by just watching them (or watching people's videos.) After watching someone spot several loads accurately, for example, you could decide that they are good people to ask about spotting.

The advice given on this board is very different from the advice given at your drop zone. For one, everyone can read it. The reader might be a whuffo reporter, or a potential student contemplating a jump, or someone with 10 tandems, or someone with 30 military static lines and no freefalls, or a beginning 4-wayer with 200 jumps and some tunnel time. There is no way to tell who will read it, and no way to keep information from some groups of people who it may not be appropriate for. Therefore, everyone who posts here should consider carefully what sort of advice they give out and how they qualify it.

Likewise, the person posting the information can be any one of the above people. They may be an AFF instructor with years of instruction under their belt. They may be an expert military static line jumper without much experience in freefall - but they may be giving advice on freefall manuevers. They may be well-intentioned but completely clueless. They may even be malicious. And unlike advice given at a DZ, there is no easy way to observe their skills to see if they are really the experts they claim to be.

The other moderators and I try to keep clearly dangerous advice off this board. But there is a lot of well-intentioned but marginal advice given here which may be inappropriate or even dangerous for students or new jumpers to follow. Advice which may be appropriate for a tandem master could even kill a new jumper if they do not understand the differences between the two types of jumps.

Therefore, it is imperative that people reading this board do NOT treat the advice given here as authoritative. When you know the person posting the information, you may decide to take what they say more or less seriously - but it can be very dangerous to take the advice of a poster who you do not know, and who does not know your situation or level of experience.
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