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We recently had a new user that is definitely not a spam account.

Unfortunately, he joined for the sole purpose of advertising his product on a number of questions (1, 2 and 3). Granted, the product is relevant to the questions.

What should be our shared policy towards this kind of content? Should we consider it spam? Should we accept moderate doses of it as they apparently do on SO? [if anyone has a better source for this, please edit it in]

Should we incorporate the information about his product in the previously existing answers? (the user could not leave comments after all)

EDIT: We just got a new user re-promoting the same product.

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  • $\begingroup$ That user can write a blog on our blog site. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Mar 29 '16 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ It has been an hard choice picking the answer to accept. In the end I've accepted fooot's answer because it is more general and does not focuses only on the case at hand. I encourage future readers to read both answers for completeness. $\endgroup$ – Federico Apr 4 '16 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ good question. if i understand where you're pointing to, it might have been differently worded. I understand that you would primarily be concerned with a user's GENERAL behavior, as opposed to the examination of any one given post. But I might have misunderstood, so I approached the question from 3 angles. $\endgroup$ – tony gil Jul 29 '17 at 11:55
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There was a similar post on meta which lead to new content in the FAQ of all sites, including ours. From the topic: What kind of behavior is expected of users? There appears to be a few important points:

  • Post good, relevant answers
  • Not all of your answers/questions should be self-promotion
  • Disclose your affiliation

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.

There's also another section about How to not be a spammer, which goes into more detail on how to self-promote without giving the impression of spam. The advice seems to focus on writing high-quality answers. If you're going to use a post here for free self-promotion, the community expects at least a high-quality answer in return.


In the specific case mentioned in the question, while "good" and "relevant" are a bit subjective, the community seems to feel that the answers have not met that standard. Also, the poster seems to have failed the second requirement overall, and the third requirement in most of the answers.

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fooot is correct on all counts, and this issue is generally covered by our user behavior policy, but I'll just add my take on the problems specific to this case since I was one of the people who deleted the original posts.

First, and this is a really big one, he/they are not disclosing their interest in the product. If the posts started with a disclaimer of "Full disclosure: this is a product I'm working on" then I think there would be less of an issue.

Second, the original user went and posted the advertisement to three different questions. That is effectively spamming. Imagine if someone developed a new JavaScript library, and then went and posted an answer on every JavaScript question which asked "how can I do x?" where x is a thing the new library can do.

The big reason it's spamming, and not just "helpful information" is that it looks like it's coming from the community, when in reality it hasn't been vetted by any community members. If someone from the community (who has contributed in other ways) had used their product, and wanted to recommend it, that would have been fine.

Third, we have a general policy that all of your posts can't be self-promotion. It's an indication that you haven't joined to actually contribute; you only want to see what you can get out of the community. It's a culture we want to strongly discourage.

Lastly, even on a site with no paid ads, we do have a way for people to truly advertise products which have been vetted by the community: Community Ads. If this user was in good standing with the community, it could be suggested there, and the community could decide whether it's a product that they want advertised all over the site. Supporting small businesses that do good things for aviation isn't out of the realm of possibilities for community ads. Although, at this point I would guess this user(s) has destroyed any good will the community would have had towards them and their products.

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SHORT ANSWER : "No."

LONGER ANSWER: "Not as a rule." A priori classification as spam for all posts containing promotion of own products is not in the best interest of the community (applying Bentham's principle of utilitarianism to the issue: "does something promote more pleasure or more pain?"). More people would benefit than those who would lose something and, probably, the net sum of "pleasure" (as described by Bentham) would probably outshine total "pain".

LONG ANSWER: "Yes, maybe". Your question would have another answer if it was worded differently, like: "should someone who often posts his/her wares in answers, even if these are relevant, be considered a spammer?". In this case, one would have to attempt establishing intent. One would then have to examine the member's body of work to verify if there is sufficient indication that the person is using the community for promotion of his/her products.

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