Occasionally, this is the 4th time in nearly 4,000 questions, an answer from the NLH Q&A Service got rated ‘poor’. So that’s only 0.1% – but it still upsets me. The reason though for us doing badly?

It was a question about p-Phenylenediamine (PPD), which is often used, in henna tattoos (popular in the UK). The general practitioners (GPs) patient developed a severe allergic reaction and so wanted to know what other products PPD appears in – to help guide the person away from future allergic reactions.

The problem being that the Q&A services answer questions of the type answerable by research evidence, by searching the likes of TRIP, Medline, Cochrane etc. This question I beyond our remit and expertise. So, trying to be helpful, we ‘answered’ the question – badly – just because we tried to help.

The lesson to learn is to know your limits and sometimes trying too hard can backfire.

The outstanding question now is – do we leave our poor answer up there and hope people will help us out?

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