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A user has recently answered 2 of his questions by writing about the CI-software he sells and linking to his company website. One answer contains a disclaimer that he is the owner, the other answer does not. In his defence, the second answer is a bit less promotional and only links to a blog on the company website.

Personally I consider the first answer to be a form of spam, despite the disclaimer. The second answer I'm not so sure of. What do other people think of this? Is this a form of spam or is this allowed?

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  • I added a disclaimer to the other answer as well. Thanks for the headsup, I just thought about those links as regular links to an external article, but you're absolutely right, I should add the disclaimer to any reference to my company's site. – Dan Cornilescu Mar 5 '17 at 5:36
  • @Pierre.Vriens Can you explain the reason for your edit? I'm not sure how this improves the question. – THelper Mar 6 '17 at 10:15
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    @THelper : I thought my edit would be considered as an improvement. But from your prior comment It seems I might be wrong. So therefor I just performed a rollback to your prior version. Should you want to do so, feel free to reuse any of my previous edits again in the now current version (no credits due). Apart from that: interesting question (I can't upvote it any further ...). Next (interesting) question? – Pierre.Vriens Mar 6 '17 at 10:47
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Well, if we go by the Stack Exchange definition of spam, neither of them qualify (and spam flags on those posts would likely be declined):

Spam is an unsolicited commercial advertisement. We've all seen it, and we all know what it looks like. It looks like the same stuff you see in your spam folder when you look at your email.

Because each post flagged as spam comes with a -100 reputation penalty, and the risk of users being fed into the spam blocking systems, these should generally not be flagged as spam.

However, there is a different issue at hand: self promotion. The help center has a good section on this I'll quote:

Avoid overt self-promotion.

The community tends to vote down overt self-promotion and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

If a large percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free community promotion ads for open source projects and non-profit organizations.

That captures it really well in my opinion—if you're clearly just here to try and sell your product, then you're not here for the right reasons, but if you genuinely think your product could solve a problem, it's fine to share it in a small percentage of your posts.

I would say the most balanced approach would be to vote on the posts based on how useful you find them—if you think it's unhelpful, vote down, although using a custom flag to explain that you think the promotion is inappropriate would also be acceptable generally.

Admittedly, a self-answer does raise some suspicion, but I'd personally give people the benefit of the doubt at this stage—it's easy to get caught on the wrong side of self-promotion rules, and if the intention was good, I wouldn't object.


What I think would make a better answer is something along these lines:

Q: How do I solve foo?

A: I wanted to solve this, so I investigated these approaches:

  • Bar
  • Baz

Baz works particularly well because _______. I developed this idea into a product ([insert relevant link here]) which may be helpful.

This way, you're teaching everyone else how to solve problems while still giving them a pre-made solution and a link to your project. Sharing your relevant experiences and solutions while developing the product would be fascinating. A description of what your product does... a little less so.

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In my defence I am aware of the ad-adversion on SE sites (I myself dislike ads). But I was torn as I genuinely believe the question to be useful and particularly relevant to DevOps.

So I studied extensively the self-promotion subject on StackOverflow Meta, SoftwareEngineering Meta and StackExchange Meta and I belive I followed what I perceived to generally be the rules/preferences.

I also asked if DevOps-related software recommendations would be on-topic on DevOps in the definition phase. I failed to realize that self-asking the question would worsen things, tho.

Again, apologies.

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