Why was the "Can copper nails really kill trees?" thread closed?

Why was this thread closed? How is it really any different from the hoary “sugar in the gas tank” question?

And to the OP of the now-closed thread: Don’t kill city trees; you can be charged with vandalism and be forced to pay a hefty fine. And [on preview, I’ll omit a discussion of copper nails for fear of a wrist-slapping by the mods, but I doubt it’s a method you’d want to use in your situation].

You answered your own question.

From the registration agreement:

You answered your own question. Vandalising city property is a crime, and the SDMB forbids discussion on how to commit crimes.

The thing is though, now that the question has been asked, I really would like to know the answer. No, I don’t have any trees I want to kill. Just wondering if it works (I’m skeptical); and if so, how.

Yeah, but the question remains whether the mods would have left the thread open if the OP had asked whether copper nails were effective for killing a tree on one’s own property.

That being said, I suppose I’ll risk the wrist-slapping to state that I’ve seen copper nails sold for killing the stumps of trees that have already been cut down, to keep them from sprouting again; but I haven’t seen them advertised for killing healthy trees–I guess the assumption is that if you want to kill a tree, you’ll just either cut it down or girdle it. I don’t know about the mechanism by which the tree is actually killed. Anecdotal reports indicate that it’s more efficient to pull or blast the stump than to wait for the nails to kill it. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you found copper nails in old-timey hardware stores.

If the OP had asked about destroying his own property, I don’t think there’d be a problem. Instead, he specifically stated that the trees were city property. He asked about killing them because the city wouldn’t.

As for the sugar-in-the-gas-tank link, the questioner asked whether it would work; not whether it would work because he wanted to do it.

Some angry trees complained.

Some copper nails complained they were being unfairly stereotyped as tree-killers.

I think we all know that copper nails are extremely hypersensitive.

Wouldn’t you be after all of the hate from tree people?

Answering the same question on Madsci.org

"Yes, if the nail is big enough to harm the base of the tree. It can open an
entry for infection and disease. You also need to consider how big is the
nail and the tree. Driving a copper nail has physical, chemical, and
biological actions playing together. If the tree dies, it will not be easy
to know precisely what the main cause was acting. Copper as a metallic form
is not harmfull to tree nutrition. It needs to oxidize, to solubilize and
then be absorbed. Absorption of copper at the bark level may not occur, while
high levels of copper ion in the soil rooting system may lead to toxicity. Many
species of trees also will respond differently to this stress related to
nails in their bases. In biology we do not play yes/no answer! "

aldiboronti, the previous thread on this topic was closed for reasons stated in that thread. Those reasons remain valid.

This thread questions the reasoning for that closure; it does not give you the right to answer the question of the closed thread.

You have been warned. Do not do this again or you will lose your posting privileges.

General Questions Moderator

Okay–but would the thread have remained open if the question were phrased such that OP had asked whether copper nails were effective for killing a tree on one’s own property?

Eh, fair enough. On the other hand, the reply to the question does indicate that it’s not a valid approach to the problem at hand, thereby hopefully discouraging the activity in question.

It would again depend on the intent of the question. If the OP seeks knowledge on whether or not nails can damage trees, that perhaps would be permitted. However, if the OP asks for specific step-by-step instructions on how to go about killing a tree, whether on city or private property, it would perhaps be discouraged. There are no hard and fast rules in such cases, and it is mostly a judgement call, sometimes involving more than one persons. Decisions may differ depending on circumstances, and on the propensity for information gleaned from the thread to be misused whether or not such intent was stated in the OP.

Point. Part of the reason why the post was allowed to remain in this thread, rather than being deleted.

General Questions Moderator

Why on God’s green earth would you discourage a thread about killing a tree on private property, provided you’re legally allowed to do so?

Killing trees (especially sapplings; less so larger and older trees which are best removed mechanically) is a perfectly valid and legal landscaping/land ownership topic.

I’m gonna suggest that xash meant “killing a tree on (someone else’s) private property…”

But I’m sure he’ll come back and reply.

I understand why that thread was closed (soliciting advice on breaking the law) and I agree with that. But count me also as confused as to why the entire thread was censored. When I saw all those posts wiped, my first thought was was “oooooh, copper nails must have some seriously strong powers that The Man doesn’t want us to know about. Now I must google on it until my curiosity is satisfied.”

Certainly you must realize that a censored thread inspires a curiosity that an otherwise uninteresting thread could never achieve. I’m trying to choose my words carefully here to avoid answering The Forbidden Question, but I think that allowing a couple of ignorance-fighting posts in addition to the stern moderator warning would advance the purpose of dissuading someone from using SDMB for conspiracy to assassinate a tree.

If it were about killing a tree on one’s own private property, I would defer to my US based moderators. Killing trees in my country, even on private property, requires permission from the city council. I was not aware that this was perfectly legal in the US, so I stand corrected on this count.

Point taken. However, if you read the original OP’s intent, it was [to me] perfectly clear that s/he was trying to circumvent the law, and intended to do so in a manner which was not obvious to the casual observer, i.e. hammering copper nails into the tree.

Further, even if a set of circumstances allows for the legal use of X, we might not permit discussion of X if we have sufficient reason to believe that the information offered could be used to circumvent the law. An example off the top of my head would be, say, “How to grow medical marijuana in my back yard”.

When I began composing my post in that thread, there was only one reply. On preview I saw the second reply posted, so I decided to remove it since it hadn’t been there very long, and while I was at it I thought I might as well remove the first reply. No compelling reason, other than the fact that the information could be used by the OP to attempt to circumvent the law.


In cases where I believe the replies serve the greater good, I usually leave the replies as is. This instance did not qualify, in my opinion.

My apologies, xash. The warning is duly noted and I shall take care not to cross the bounds again.

Actually, has of a recent Supreme Court ruling, this would clearly be illegal too. :slight_smile: