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We have a moderator, casperOne, that has decided to start deleting my responses.

I thought this topic had been beaten to death, and that I was operating within the limits of established policy:

Limits for self-promotion in answers

Here's a list of answers casperOne just deleted:

http://stackoverflow.com/a/12022494/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/12243722/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/12241761/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/11898190/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/11905033/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/11919703/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/11942112/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/12021034/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/12047432/120163

http://stackoverflow.com/a/12112876/120163 (Note: CasperOne did not delete the answer from the other "self-promoting" vendor).

http://stackoverflow.com/a/12138388/120163

Which of these answers do not address the OP's question? Most of these have positive votes; I claim the negative votes are largely explained by people that don't like the fact that I answer.

  1. Do we have to have this discussion again?
  2. Am I stepping on the policy?
  3. Or is Stack Overflow simply going to dump relevant answers from people that build tools?
share|improve this question
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More than half of your (currently undeleted) answers contain links to your website. That's over 900 posts. (There's barely 30ish answers from other users that link to your site - check the stats for that other tool you point out in your question here). I'm sorry but I understand people who would view this as borderline abusive. –  Mat Sep 3 '12 at 18:18
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A lot of these look like NaRQ/NC questions... –  animuson Sep 3 '12 at 18:23
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It's usually either a mod deletes it because it could be borderline or the spam flags by the community deal you a -100 blow per post. –  random Sep 3 '12 at 18:28
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Unrelated, but I've occasionally been put off by your posts that don't make it clear, in the post, that it's a commercial tool. I don't recall if you highlight your have a vested interest in the tool in all the posts, and I can't easily check at the moment. I've never flagged any of them, but while I'm a data point of relative ambivalence, I've raised an eyebrow a few times. Not a reflection on the tool itself, since it's a shared area of interest/research. –  Dave Newton Sep 3 '12 at 18:35
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I gotta say, I don't know the subject matter, but all the links I checked so far have undeleted answers that look basically the same as yours, and link to third party tools/websites. Maybe it's the way you disclose your affiliation, it reads like promotional material and sets off my internal spam-spidey-sense. Seems like you're pushing your product pretty hard. Nonetheless, I think this is a very fair question that deserves an answer here on meta. –  Wesley Murch Sep 3 '12 at 18:35
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That first one shouldn't have been deleted, but, although I'm sure you mean well, these do read a lot like ads (though informational and well-written) for your products. "Need to frob a wooble? The ususal procedure for frobbing is to flim-flam the wooble, then chupple it. I've found, however, that flamming first is essential, and my product, WoobleFrobber, does just that." –  Josh Caswell Sep 3 '12 at 18:49
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@JoshCaswell damn, I almost flagged your comment. –  toniedzwiedz Sep 3 '12 at 18:56
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The resolution as to how affiliation is stated was cleared up in the previous long, painful debate. It was agreed that "our" was sufficient indication of affiliation. I religiously include that. "Spam flags" by the community is abusive too; that was covered in the previous discussion. –  Ira Baxter Sep 3 '12 at 19:46
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From the post you linked to: "Also, if a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product, you're clearly here for the wrong reasons." Over half sounds like a huge percentage to me, in this context... –  Jon Skeet Sep 3 '12 at 20:09
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@Jon: Maybe, and I do wish Ira would share more general programming knowledge on questions where his product isn't immediately applicable. That said, where are any rules being broken? –  Ben Voigt Sep 3 '12 at 22:17
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I have more confidence in the OP's experience of trying to advertise his commercial product. I can just imagine a Microsoft representative linking to Windows/VS for every C# question because of the "enabling nature" of their tools.. –  prusswan Sep 3 '12 at 22:47
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@prusswan: Which is why I addressed Ira when I saw answers of the form "My product can do that.", just as I'd be unhappy with someone saying "You can do that with C#. Download Visual C# Express here.". OTOH, "You can do that with C#, and here's how....." is useful. –  Ben Voigt Sep 3 '12 at 22:54
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@BenVoigt At least Visual C# Express is free and is pretty featureful. It just isn't very useful to see it on every C# question and their sales representative actually had the good sense not to pull off anything like that here. –  prusswan Sep 4 '12 at 6:38
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Jerry Coffin has brought up an interesting comparison: In the C++ community, people like PJ Plauger, Pete Becker, Steve Adamczyk, John Spicer, Daveed Vandevoorde, Herb Sutter, and many others enjoy a great reputation — despite the fact that everybody around long enough knows who they work(ed) for. That's because they contributed vast amounts of knowledge to the community without mentioning their company/product all the time. It's their knowledge and contributions that advertises those companies. –  sbi Sep 5 '12 at 7:47
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Another thing Jerry mentioned is that he has called you out on Usenet several times years ago for dropping links to your company's website. So this is not something you are doing because you haven't adjusted to the medium you are using, or because you don't know better. You seem to have a long track record, across several mediums, of ignoring complaints about your behavior in favor of spamming the users with your advertisements. –  sbi Sep 5 '12 at 8:42

8 Answers 8

No, I didn't decide to start deleting your answers out of nowhere. You had at least ten spam flags across those answers and I was processing those flags.

Looking at them, yes, you did disclose that they were your product, but the links didn't seem integral to the answer provided; the answers look like they can stand alone without the link/product mention.

That said, Jeff altered the FAQ when your posts were first brought up to read:

Also, if a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product, you're clearly here for the wrong reasons.

At the time of this writing, you currently have 113 answers with mention of semdesigns.com and 937 answers with mention of semanticdesigns.com for a total of 1,050 answers out of your 1,777 answers (59%).

You're providing quality content, but you're doing it in such a way that is spammy. We don't need over 1,000 links to semanticdesigns.com on Stack Overflow. We really just need one, found in your profile.

I'd strongly recommend that if the answer doesn't revolve around your product directly, to edit out those links, as it just is noise and it obviously is perceived by the community as spam.

Once you've performed the editing, then you can flag an answer for moderator attention and we can review it and undelete it if appropriate.

I'd also recommend you abide by this for future answers.

share|improve this answer
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Those 10 spam flags appeared in the last hour or so. I think it safe to believe that is one SO user rather than representative of the entire community. –  Ira Baxter Sep 3 '12 at 22:16
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@IraBaxter That's irrelevant. The flags have brought your behavior to the attention of the community, and the community is generally not in favor of this type of behavior, even if you are providing quality content. We don't say "oh, it's ok if he posts 1000+ links across his answers because he has some quality content". Your contributions are appreciated, but the extra bits that you attach to them clearly are not. Just because the flags have come up in the last hour doesn't mean that it's only a problem now. We simply weren't paying enough attention until now. –  casperOne Sep 3 '12 at 22:20
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Jeff's FAQ change may be in his best interest (he'd love for Ira's company to cough up advertising dollars), but I don't think it's in the best interests of the community. The prior discussion (which Ira linked) makes the point that Ira contributes time rather than advertising dollars, and I don't like devaluing that just because it isn't $$$ in Jeff's pocket. Of course your moderator privileges exist at Jeff's option... but let's be honest and if he's overriding the community policy for financial benefit to Stack Exchange, Inc., let's have that disclosed also. –  Ben Voigt Sep 3 '12 at 23:07
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@BenVoigt I'm very skeptical that the FAQ policy is intended solely as a push for advertising dollars. –  Dave Newton Sep 3 '12 at 23:54
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@BenVoigt Did you just indirectly accuse me of being a puppet for Jeff and deleting content in order to get more advertising dollars for the site? Seriously? –  casperOne Sep 3 '12 at 23:56
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@Ben, that's a pathetic accusation. If Ira's tools are any good at all, someone other than the developer will bring them up when they're relevant. If he's just here to get in as many product mentions as possible I whole-heartedly support telling him to pound sand, and SE profits have nothing to do with it. –  Brad Mace Sep 3 '12 at 23:56
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@BenVoigt Also, you seem to want to imagine that this part of the FAQ doesn't exist: Also, if a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product, you're clearly here for the wrong reasons. –  casperOne Sep 3 '12 at 23:57
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@casperOne: No, I'm accusing you of enforcing a policy which is different from the one established by community consensus. If Jeff overrode the policy because he wants more advertising dollars.... well it is his website. It wouldn't be the first time Jeff exercised dictatorial powers over SO policy, and I was just trying to make it clear that don't blame you for following the rules he gives you. I just want confirmation whether you were told "use this policy instead of the one developed by the community". –  Ben Voigt Sep 3 '12 at 23:58
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A key thing that casperOne touched on is .. we don't go looking for stuff to delete. Actions we take are the direct result of the community bringing things to our attention. If the community keeps bringing stuff that you wrote to our attention, it's not us or the community that is the problem. If you don't want to be confused with a duck, stop walking, quacking and swimming like one. –  Tim Post Sep 4 '12 at 2:50
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@Ben: I think nobody would accuse me of being a deletionist, yet I (am one of those who) flagged Ira's answers. I remember Ira spamming the newsgroups a decade ago (not the MS ones, where you hung out), and after reading the third of his "answers" I saw I was annoyed about it back then. The spamming on Usenet was one of the things that drove me to SO. I don't want to see this here now, too. Of his recent 30 answers, 18 contained links to his company's website, advertising what he's earning money with. I consider this abuse of SO. –  sbi Sep 4 '12 at 6:35
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@Ben: "Ira contributes time rather than advertising dollars": Everybody here contributes time, that's nothing special. He seems to primarily contribute time towards advertising his product (for his own gain), while others contribute time to SO (not for their own direct monetary gain). –  sth Sep 4 '12 at 11:18
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Why don't you count yourself lucky that you haven't been getting more flags? Talk about having a one-tracked mind –  prusswan Sep 4 '12 at 16:43
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"So the proposal on the table as I interpret it read it is 'don't mention your tools'" No, that's not true, and you should know this, because it has been spelled out several times now. Nevertheless: I am objecting (and so are others, from what I understand), that you are using this site — which our efforts made so popular — to advertise your business. An indication of this is that 60% of your answers contain links to your business. The problem with this is that, if even only 10% of us did likewise, this site would go down the drain so quickly, we wouldn't have time to realize what happened. –  sbi Sep 5 '12 at 9:02
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"So, is this discussion about links, or about disclosures?" You should know this, because it has been spelled out several times now. Nevertheless, here I go again: I am objecting (and so are others, from what I understand), that you are using this site — which our efforts made so popular — to advertise your business. An indication of this is that 60% of your answers contain links to your business. The problem with this is that, if even only 10% of us did likewise, this site would go down the drain so quickly, we wouldn't even have time to realize what happened. –  sbi Sep 6 '12 at 0:12
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I've found Ira's answers to be extremely helpful, it's hard to explain how helpful they are. But the links were always a letdown, seeing that they were commercial products... I wish @IraBaxter would go through his answers and edit out the links, his answers are still amazing. –  Mehrdad Oct 7 '12 at 20:34

I thought this topic had been beaten to death, and that I was operating within the limits of established policy:

It's been a couple of years since we last talked about this, so let's review the conclusion of the last discussion... And the aftermath.

The conclusion

The first thing you should've taken away from that discussion was the realization that this practice is extremely controversial - out of all the responses, those that received the most support were those that attempted some form of compromise.

The second thing you should've picked up on was the widespread belief that answers should actually answer the question. This was, perhaps, somewhat more subtle, as I suspect some of the folks participating in that discussion found it difficult to wrap their heads around the idea that this wouldn't simply be assumed. And yet, seeing answers that seem to exist purely to weave a tenuous connection between your work and the asker's request into an opportunity for promotion makes it harder to defend either your practices or intentions.

And the last thing you should've noticed was that Jeff's compromise solution, now ensconced in the FAQ of every single site on the network, leads off with:

Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam.

Read that carefully: there is no safe harbor for self-promotion on Stack Overflow. All of the deleted answers you linked to received multiple flags. Maybe some of them shouldn't have been deleted. I suspect you could make a few edits and see some of them restored - but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

The Aftermath

While you may have considered the conclusion a done deal, tweaked your wording slightly and moved on, for the other members and moderators on Stack Overflow the fallout has been an ongoing battle.

I can't count the number of times one of us has had to explain to a vendor, via moderator messages or email, why searching for keywords and then dropping answers in with links to their product is unacceptable - even with full disclosure. In extreme cases, we've had to blacklist entire domains due to persistent abuse. That's bad - it shouldn't come to the point of having to block all mention of a product or organization just to stop it from being tirelessly plugged in contexts where it isn't useful.

So we try to work with folks who, like you, have valuable knowledge and experience to share, and who might occasionally be justified in sharing links to what they're working on as part of this process.

It can be a lot of work. But I honestly believe it's the best solution for everyone involved. So I must ask, respectfully, that you

PLEASE DO NOT RUIN THIS FOR EVERYONE BY CONTINUING TO STRETCH THE RULES ESTABLISHED BY COMMUNITY CONSENSUS TO THEIR BREAKING POINT!

If you haven't already noticed, you have fewer defenders here this time. After two years and numerous opportunities to alter the perception of your work here, the majority of your answers still link to your own site(s), and you're still posting answers that can only be charitably said to have a tangential connection to the question they're answering.

This is really up to you. No one is going to grant you immunity from flagging. The moderators can and sometimes do choose to dismiss them without action, but you're wearing their patience thin as well. Two years ago, you could claim ignorance - that doesn't fly now. You know good and well what's causing this - you can either fix it, or deal with the fallout from it.

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As a refresher, for those who might have forgotten, possible actions/fallout include (but are not exclusive to): suspension, deletion of answers, blacklisting of your domain on the site. –  casperOne Oct 17 '12 at 16:57

This came up in the chat yesterday (and no!, don't bother going there and discuss it — all you will do is annoy the regulars, because nobody spoke up in your favor) and I was appalled to learn that, after I escaped you spamming Usenet, I find you doing the same here. (I must have seen you doing this first sometimes in the in the 90s.)

FYI: I went through all of your most recent 30 answers (that's the number that fits on one page). Of those, 60% were linking to your company. I consider that spamming the site. You are using forums that are meant to help others as a free advertising tool, and I consider this wrong. You cherry-pick questions in order to shove users towards your company's products. (And don't give me "I don't cherry-pick", because that's even worse!)

I flagged all 18 answers that contained links to your company (but I believe I wasn't the only one doing so) because you are using SO as an advertising tool. Of those 18 flags, it appears 17 got approved, one got denied. (But from the comment on that, I have the feeling that me flagging so much might have had a hand in his decision.)

I wanted for this to come up here again, because I want you to stop that. This is at least the fourth discussion on meta about advertising where your name has drawn attention. I consider this a strong indicator that lots of people dislike what you are doing. If you are sick of being caught up in these discussions, then just stop doing what annoys people. Go through your 1.5k+ answers, delete all that point to your website, and stop posting links to it.

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I want you to stop doing what you are doing too. Whenever there is a public exposure to a large audience, there are detractors (that makes "some", not necessarily "lots"). That doesn't necessarily make them right. As far as I can tell, my answers get an average of two votes in favor. Jon Skeet does about the same, and many of the top contributors seem to have similar numbers. (I'm impressed that you have a higher ratio than that, congratulations). But it appears to me that the SO audience, much larger than just you (or "some"), seems to like my answers about as well as many others. –  Ira Baxter Sep 4 '12 at 9:31
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Cherry pick? Call it what you will, but I answer questions for which I have answers. I've averaged one answer per day and there's many a time when I wished I had a life instead. I suppose it can't be anything but cherrypicking. And I don't see how you can filter the flood of choices you choose to answer, either, without cherrypicking the ones you think you can answer, and are worth answering. –  Ira Baxter Sep 4 '12 at 9:52
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But you (almost) only have answers for what you (think you) can post a link to your company's website to. That's very different from 99.9% of the other users here which post without adding anything to their answers that would cause the suspicion that they're abusing this site for their company's advertising. So your cherry-picking is much worse than that of the overwhelming majority of the other users.) –  sbi Sep 4 '12 at 10:40
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Oh, and if you want to stop me doing what I am doing here (whatever you're referring to, I have no idea), then go to meta, write a question complaining about what I do, and see how the other users react by how they vote on it. Oh wait, you just did that. And the most upvoted answer is... scrolls upward ... casper's answer telling you to stop what you're doing. Well, so much for that, then. Can we now consider this discussion concluded? Thanks. –  sbi Sep 4 '12 at 10:41

I have to admit, fairly, that Round 2 is completely my fault. I linked to your profile in the chat as an example of someone who self-promoted way too much. And, well, the other Loungers had a look and didn't take it too kindly.

Look, you have 1,600 answers. If a few of them point to your products, then whatever. But when 60% of them point to your products, then we have a problem. It's not about any individual answer. It's about the sheer volume.

And secondly,

Do we have to have this discussion again?

Well, yes. It's been two years- the user base of this site has both changed and exploded in size, and the site has evolved to meet their needs. And here's the simple fact- every few months (I'd say two years is pretty good) a new bunch of users who weren't here last time is gonna come on, is gonna notice you, and is gonna raise this problem again, and again, and again. That community two years ago was quite a different one to the one you're talking to today- just in case you hadn't noticed.

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"But when 60% of them point to your products, then we have a problem." Exactly. SO's users dedicate so much of their spare time into giving great answers, which made the site thrive and appear so high among google results. Ira rides on the back of that, handing out a thousand links to his own business, well aware that SO's popularity will work for him. I consider this unfair. What's more — if only 10% of SO's user base did that, the site's popularity would collapse within a few months. He is a link vampire, feeding on our work's results. –  sbi Sep 4 '12 at 13:44

you'll perhaps forgive me if I believe that the tool I'm building is pretty good compared to alternatives.

So does every half-wit pitchman in late night infomercials. Your opinion is inherently biased and it's usefulness is diminished accordingly. As an occasional thing it would be fine, but you're engaging in self-promotion on an industrial scale. No matter how informative you try to make your answers, they add up to spam when you're mentioning it this much. It'd be like trying to have a developer meeting with a sales rep in the room who constantly interrupts to tell them how great their product is while the developers are just trying to get the problem solved.

The simple fact is that I don't come to Stack Overflow to see a bunch of competing infomercials; I want impartial suggestions from other developers. So, while I have no reason to visit the tags you post in, when I encounter this type of behavior I will flag it as spam without any reservation because that's what's best for the site overall. If your product is really as great as you think, there should be users of it in the wild who can mention it when they think it's relevant.

Edit: If they're specifically asking for a tool to automate it, then it should be ok. That's one question though. Your answers are generally good, but you seem to go out of your way to mention your products even when people aren't asking for a tool. You clearly have a lot of knowledge to share, but you need to err more on the side of not mentioning your products until someone is clearly soliciting a product recommendation. You could also provide a product-agnostic answer and then include links to your answers on other related questions (where a product was requested) that have more info. That would make the promotion less blatant so it wouldn't feel as spammy.

share|improve this answer
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"I will flag it as spam without reservation" So, looks like you don't agree with the established policy in the link I provided, either. –  Ira Baxter Sep 4 '12 at 0:45
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I also object to your comparison. People ask questions, for which I think I have useful answers, and the upvotes from readers seem to generally justify the answers. It isn't like I'm jumping into the middle of a conversation in which I have no business. And I'm surprised you have formed a judgement, without bothering to check to see if the answers are relevant. –  Ira Baxter Sep 4 '12 at 0:48
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No, I agree with the actual policy which says that it's ok to a point, but that if a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product, you're clearly here for the wrong reasons. But of course you've been busily ignoring that bit because it's contrary to your agenda of product promotion. –  Brad Mace Sep 4 '12 at 0:48
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OK, somebody asks, "How can I automate this code change?" What answer should I give, if I have a good solution? (You are welcome to list other comparable solutions). Pretty useless to say, "I know an answer, but SO policy forbids giving it to you unless you say pretty please". I could quit answering the question. What good would that be? I could spend all my time trying to answer questions that I don't have good answers for; is that what you are proposing? Or just simply that I should go away? –  Ira Baxter Sep 4 '12 at 0:54
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@Ira: If you don't know how to answer except with advertisement, then I'd suggest you just shut up. –  sbi Sep 4 '12 at 6:24
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If said tool is any "good", it can do without the desperate plugs. Otherwise it is very possible a dud. –  prusswan Sep 4 '12 at 6:33
    
Now my response to prusswan has been deleted. His previous comment is inflammatory and has no basis in fact, yet my response pointing to a strong basis for judgment was deleted. Why did you not delete his inflammatory remark with the rest? What kind of judgment is going on behind the "moderation" here? –  Ira Baxter Sep 4 '12 at 14:44
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@IraBaxter I've deleted those comments. They weren't contributing anything to the conversation. A link to your site in the comments certainly wasn't helping the situation. –  casperOne Sep 4 '12 at 14:45
    
It directly refuted the "very possibly a dud" claim made by prusswan based on apparantly no evidence or investigation. –  Ira Baxter Sep 4 '12 at 14:50
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Look, it was your site and again the content is not coming from a third-party source. How is that going to refute anything? You are losing credibility if you had any to begin with. –  prusswan Sep 4 '12 at 16:48

We're supposed to vote on content, not on the source of the content. I suppose that perhaps the same principle doesn't apply to close or delete votes, or to mod actions, but that idea makes me a little squeamish. Thus, I don't know how to apply 'you're here for the wrong reason' as a cause of deletion.

Not that I'm accusing casperOne of anything here; I don't have his job to do.

This argument would evaporate if Ira was to just budget himself in explicit links to products, reserving them for the very clearest cases. There's always a middle ground, to mention the existence of un-named 'commercial alternatives' and leave it to the OP to ask in a comment if they really want to know, or check out your profile.

share|improve this answer
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"You're here for the wrong reason" is not the reason behind deleting, but something to pay heed to when your posts are getting flagged as spam and you end up as topic for how to post answers when most of them end up in that borderline area on execution/frequency –  random Sep 3 '12 at 23:02
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@random: Apparently it IS the reason behind the deletion, and behind the spam flags. Neither the moderators, nor the users, have given any other reason. –  Ben Voigt Sep 4 '12 at 13:11

As someone who's taken Ira to task in the past for mentioning his product as a solution but not how it actually can be used to solve the problem, I'm disappointed to see casperOne deleting content whenever flags arise. Those of the deleted answers I checked (about half) ARE NOT SPAM, and whoever marked them that way needs to have their hand helpful flag score slapped a little, since they clearly can't tell the difference between an off-topic advertisement and relevant useful information that is helpful even to someone who doesn't buy tools from Ira.

Being here for the wrong reason isn't a valid justification for deleting valuable content. Only breaking the rules would be, and AFAICT none of those deleted posts break any rules.

And Ira has in the past consulted the community for guidance on making self-promoting answers more useful.

casperOne says the answers would be useful without the product reference. I'd expect that, it's what makes it an answer instead of an advertisement. But they real question is whether the product reference adds value to the answer. Knowing how much programmer time costs, I'd say without hesitation that a product recommendation which is expected to significantly cut down on development and debugging time is in fact a valuable addition to an answer. And who would know the capabilities and limitations of a product better than one of the developers?

I think those answers should be restored as soon as practicable. And that casperOne should go review the policies the community has already voted for (on meta) with respect to self-promotion.

(Disclosure: I don't own any of Ira's tools, I am a subject matter expert in several tags he answers in, and he's been very responsive in the past when I told him an answer needed more meat alongside the product recommendation.)

(More disclosure: I've encountered casperOne before, I now remember, and his explanation was essentially the same "Someone flagged it, I had to delete" as here. Of course, user-generated flags do carry more weight than auto-generated ones, but there still needs to be some moderator consideration of whether a policy has actually been violated. That probably makes my input on this matter less than fully objective.)

share|improve this answer
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11 hardly qualifies as a "mass deletion spree". –  casperOne Sep 3 '12 at 22:21
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Also, what's more important here, the letter of the law, or the spirit of the law? Ira is obviously playing it very close to the edge with the links in his posts. The quality of his contributions doesn't allow him or anyone else to just litter the site with links. We could argue over the letter of the law and whether or not this violates it, but the spirit of the rule is very much being violated. –  casperOne Sep 3 '12 at 22:23
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You may think so, and so may some others. You also have democratic votes from the SO base about the quality of my answers, including the links. I'll stand by that democratic vote, even the occasional "I hate this enough to call it spam (even though it isn't)" voters. –  Ira Baxter Sep 3 '12 at 22:27
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@casperOne: I don't think the spirit is being violated. I find it useful to see properly disclosed recommendations of products that save developer time. I am annoyed by (1) recommendations without disclosure (2) recommending a product that won't solve the problem and may not even be programming related, and (3) recommendation of a useful product without helping me use it. Ira's not done that, except occasionally #3 (in the past), but even that is just grounds for a chat or comment discussion, not deletion. –  Ben Voigt Sep 3 '12 at 22:30
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s/consulted the community for guidance/complained that his spam got deleted/ –  sth Sep 3 '12 at 22:58
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@sth: Was it in response to spam flags and deletions? Sure. But he wasn't complaining, he seems to have been genuinely interested in adjusting his behavior to make the community (large majority anyway) happy. The problem is that majority of the community happy isn't good enough, it takes only one spam flag to get some moderators to wield the delete hammer. The only time I see Ira complaining is when he's done exactly what was recommended on meta and his recommendation-compliant-answers still got deleted. –  Ben Voigt Sep 3 '12 at 23:01
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There's no interest, @Ben. See this comment. –  sbi Sep 5 '12 at 9:15

I guess I have a different take on this . I agree that Ira often promotes his products in connection with his answers and if that's spammy, then it's spammy and it always felt spammy to me even before I read this thread...but at the same time and way more importantly his answers are giving valid and pertinent information that I couldn't get elsewhere.

I have a specific interest in what amounts to , it appears, recreating a subset of SD's functionality. Apparently I want to turn some subset of SD's capabilities into a commodity and then give it away. I search SO for knowledge, I always run into Ira's posts. From those posts I have disambiguated what my actual goals are, something which wasn't actually clear to me. I have to count that as a net benefit.

Would it be better if he went more in depth and in so doing gave up some part of what makes his product a non-commodity? Sure, but that's not going to happen for obvious reasons. Practically no business person is going to tutor others in the finer points of creating what he's selling. More likely they're going to say "this (SO question) is really hard for this and this reason, but my product has already solved this problem." They're going to walk a careful line between proving they possess authoritative knowledge on a subject and giving too much of that same knowledge away.

That's actually OK with me , which is not to say it's ideal, so long as I can glean information from the post. Take his answers away and SO is a lot less useful to me. So if the measure of things is "does this post contribute" then his answers are good. If the measure of things is "zebras should not come here bearing stripes because stripes tick us off" then what's the goal being served by that? Not offending people who resent stripes? Is that the purpose of SO? Is it here to serve knowledge seekers or accord with a certain set of moral-ish aesthetics regarding self promotion and commercial seeking?

You have to take people in the real world, a place you don't control, as they actually are, not as you wish they would ideally be. There's a lot of interesting things that run jump crawl and wriggle out there just as it suits them and we should take what utility we can get from them and not pretend that we have some power to make them different from what they are.

It's a problem with all sites that permit the users the power to nuke or even downgrade the input of someone else, from Wikipedia to SO. It gets personal, it gets vindictive , it gets fetishistic, it gets tribal it gets Survivor-style political. The solution to all this (yes, I have one) is to limit the power of self appointed moderators to disappearing person X's posts from their OWN experience and no one else's. Perhaps the system can report how many people have disappeared person X from their view as a way of giving new users a heads up that person X is just all spam, no chaser.

I don't know Ira. I follow his posts nicking off critical information for my own purpose. I don't think anyone else in SO has that information in such clear perspective. I resent anyone taking away from me my chance to nick some more info from his answers. Yes, I feel what you're objecting to; I get it, but who cares? The upside for a guy like me is much more relevant than the inevitable link to SD.

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Your (first) fundamental misunderstanding is that SO's rules and it's usefulness are not separate things. SO is successful precisely because of the rules which serve to remove. This is precisely why you find so much useful content here. Moderation separates the wheat from the chaff, so when you go searching for info you find it quickly without having to dig through irrelevant discussion, spam, "me too" responses and all the rest. This moderation can be applied to questions, answers, or parts thereof, as well as comments. –  Brad Mace Jul 7 '13 at 20:32
    
In fact, moderation goes much deeper, because virtually all moderation actions are also subject to review. Your "Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!" bit doesn't carry water, because the users are the moderators. The vast majority of moderation is done by users who get additional privileges based on their reputation, which in turn is given by other users. Disputes are resolved by diamond moderators, who are elected by the user base. –  Brad Mace Jul 7 '13 at 20:38
    
Ultimately, you have no grounds to "resent" anything. No one is telling Ira he can't post, just that he can't promote his company every time he does. He can share as much or as little information as he likes (exactly no one was complaining that he was holding back info, don't know where you got that nonsense), but mentioning or linking to his products is almost never going to be necessary. All the rules have been developed with the full involvement of the community, right here on meta. Feel free to read a little and learn how things work before you tell all of us how we should do things. –  Brad Mace Jul 7 '13 at 20:46
    
Well Brad I am honestly not sure I want to interact with you because you appear to me to be someone with issues. First, I did not say I was being oppressed. Yet you claim I did. Yet I clearly didn't. So I am not sure what to make of that, except that, prima fascia, you have trouble processing reality and also, you bring a lot of emotion to your thinking. Secondly, your argument is a form of begging the question. Whether Ira's posts are wheat of chaff is the debate, yet you assume they ARE chaff , then start your argument. That's called "begging the question" - a known invalid argument form. –  user179159 Jul 8 '13 at 0:49
    
Thirdly, I did not say I resent anything. Yet you claim I did. Yet I didn't. I did use the word "resent" but if you read my post you'll see that I was suggesting that because people like you "resent" Ira for mentioning his product, which is what Ira is won't to do, then you feel justified in deleting his constructive posts. The exact mapping to the analogy that got you confused is: zebra-> Ira / zebra stripes-> Ira mentioning his product / people resenting stripes -> people who resent Ira's posts Hope that helps. –  user179159 Jul 8 '13 at 0:50
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My personal opinion is that there are too many Brads around SO who think they're doing something constructive by deleting other people's posts and too few Iras around SO who have something actually unique to offer. Sorry but Ira's posts are a net benefit to me and SO allows me to express this fact. Further, I should be able to do so without being attacked by people who can't be bothered to even accurately read what I wrote. –  user179159 Jul 8 '13 at 0:52
    
You used the phrase "I resent" (try CTRL+F), you describe moderators as "self appointed" and portray them as bullies imposing their will on a helpless user-base, and you insist on portraying this as an all-or-nothing issue--even though none of these is true, as I have attempted to explain. It is entirely possible for him to provide his knowledge (the wheat) without also including the self-promotion bits (the chaff), and this is in fact what he seems to be doing now. In my opinion this is a win for everyone. But clearly my point-by-point rebuttal--with citations--means I have issues. –  Brad Mace Jul 9 '13 at 0:06
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You're pretty much a sterling example of what's wrong with SO and other forums. First, you're now reduced to being deceptive. You originally claimed I "resented" something (Brad- "Ultimately, you have no grounds to "resent" anything"). Now you are pretending you didn't say that (but, there it is nevertheless!) , rather, you were properly referencing my use of the term resent. Yet you weren't. Yet you say you were. Yet you weren't. Further you're insinuating the false claim that I denied using the word resent (Brad- "CTRL-F for resent) Yet, I didn't deny that . Yet you insinuate I am. Etc etc. –  user179159 Jul 9 '13 at 15:29
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This is not interesting except that you, Brad, are a sterling example of what's wrong with SO. People with nothing to do in their lives (10-20,000 posts...) think of it as an extension of themselves. It becomes all about ego. They attack others, defend with deception their own errors; anything to be seen as right and not wrong. They begin operating like political hacks campaigning for prestige and above all else, power. Eventually the out of band communication with other users starts and favor-trading "factions" arise. Etc etc etc. –  user179159 Jul 9 '13 at 15:34
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The problem, the original sin in all this was to hold out as a reward to users the ability to acquire "special powers over others". This attracts losers like flies to sh*t. If you don't like a post, downgrade it. But that's not good enough. You have to disappear people's posts and argue with them over those posts. Giving people that kind of power is just asking for ego-dyfunctional people to spend a lot of time "tending" the place. The solution is to delete only outright spam. Ira's posts are not that. What's wrong with SO is cooked into the formula. Thus, intersting people mostly stay away. –  user179159 Jul 9 '13 at 15:39
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Thanks let me tell you something about your past 2-3 years. Over that time you've averaged about 10 posts a day - every day. That means that more than once an hour every working hour you're on here making another post. That doesn't even include the time you spend doing this kind of thing, and talking with others about SO and engaging in administrative activities like killing other people's posts. If each post takes you 5-6 minutes and then there's the checking to read what people said about your post, we can conclude that you spend about 15% of your life here. Get a life. Leave ours alone. hth –  user179159 Jul 15 '13 at 1:04
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The guy with 6 answers is telling the guy with just shy of 400 answers to leave his life alone. Whose life is being interfered with here? Probably not the guy who averages one post every 4 months... –  Shog9 Jul 15 '13 at 18:31
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Regarding your answer - specifically, the "sure, but that's not going to happen" bit: you do realize that there are loads of people here doing exactly that every day? No one's saying Ira or anyone else needs to give away their knowledge for free; just that if you're gonna answer a question asking for X, you should either provide X or not answer at all. And FWIW, "Here's how you can use my product to do X" as an answer is usually just fine - but hand-wavy "my product does X" answers are unacceptable. Still amazed that requiring answers to answer the question is so controversial... –  Shog9 Jul 15 '13 at 18:36
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You come here. It's YOUR place. People with fewer posts are lesser visitors. People motivated to post a lot -for whatever reason - claim ownership and feel as though it's more theirs. They IDENTIFY with SO and create all the political goings-on. It's the worst. It's just another place online providing a platform for messed up people with power issues to seek their own fifedom. Perfectly good Q and A gets closed down as "non-constructive" by what amounts to just a very small group of like-minded yahoos. The thing is, with technology being capable of what it is, it's not needed. –  user179159 Jul 17 '13 at 8:53
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Elect not to view poorly rated comments, commentators questions and answers. Setting people up to be judge jury and executioner of other people's work -when you don't have to as you don't here- is just sending out RSVPs to losers and making sure the utility of the site takes a back seat to the worst in human nature. –  user179159 Jul 17 '13 at 8:55

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