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This is directed to more experienced SO users and moderators specifically. I wish to stretch beforehand that I post this question in order to better understand the policy and make sure I do not break the accepted rule of conduct, as I deeply appreciate SO and the community making it what it is.

I have been using SO for over a year now. Not a highly active user, but I did ask a number of questions, participated in the ensuing discussion and awarded answers. I mention this in order to clarify that I did not create an SO account just so I could spam/advertise.

Two days ago I have posted answers to several questions, all on the same subject, looking for a jquery plugin for creating website tours/tutorials. The questions are-

Two of those answers were deleted by a moderator, after which I reread through the FAQ, and revised all of them, so that they'd better align with the rules, or so I thought. For one of the deleted answers I understood the reason for deletion since my answer was not a direct answer the the question.

Later all of the answers were deleted by Bill the Lizard.

My revised answers contained direct answer to the asked question, in the form of several links to jQuery plugins as was asked. In addition they contained a reference and a link, clearly marked and disclosed to a service my company offers which is also a solution to the requests of these answers, although not in the form of a jQuery plugin. I wish to note that I took care to only reply to questions where my answer was clearly and pointedly on-topic. Moreover, in one of the questions a different answer which is solely advertisement to a similar service was not deleted.

After reading here, and here I now understand that the grounds for deletion could be-

  • My answers were duplicates (since the questions are more or less duplicates).
  • I posted a link to my service, so this considered as spamming.

My question is which of the two options is the cause for deletion.

If it is the first option, why wasn't one instance left since my answers were clearly on-topic and contributed in all cases at least one option that was not mentioned in other answers?

If it is the second, I wonder how come the purely advertisement answer was left intact while mine was deleted.

If none of these are the reasons an I am still missing the point here, I would greatly appreciate an explanation so that I'd better understand the rules.

share|improve this question
"My question is which of the two options is the cause for deletion." Probably both. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Dec 24 '12 at 19:15
Oh look! Questions to close! – animuson Dec 24 '12 at 19:17
Thank you for your comments. If both, I still do not understand why not even one of these was left. – odedbd Dec 24 '12 at 19:24
up vote 7 down vote accepted

We do not allow questions such as the ones you linked to. This is because they are answered by links only, which attract link rot and spam. QED.

All of your answers were flagged automatically because you posted the same answer over and over and over and over and over again. From within the mod queue, it is often not easy to see the larger issue. In this case, all the questions involved should have been deleted or closed as Not Constructive. That doesn't mean your answers shouldn't have been deleted. In fact, we delete ALL link-only answers nowadays.

There is no guarantee that late, duplicated answers posted to low quality spam honeypots will not be deleted, and there is no guarantee that answers which are of the same quality that were posted contemporaneously with the question will get deleted. This is due to the nature of StackOverflow (lots of questions!) the number of moderators (not many), the tools we have available to us, and the time we have to volunteer.

You can always flag these other crappy link-only answers as Not an Answer, and they probably will get deleted when the flag is processed.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for this detailed explanation. Your QED opener was especially helpful for my understanding. The logic behind makes perfect sense to me now that you explained it. – odedbd Dec 24 '12 at 19:46
  1. They are all the same answer -- not always bad, but they do not always apply to the topic at hand

  2. They are just links. They need some context to make them legit answers.

share|improve this answer
First, thank you for taking the time to answer. 1. I understand, and that's why I would have expected one at least to be left, where most relevant. 2. The questions were for jQuery plugins that do something, and I provided links to four such plugins, with a one line description of each. The accepted answers in some of these questions were also basically links. When someone looks for a plugin to do something the answer is usually - try this, or try that, where this/that are links. Would my answers be considered better if I wrote a whole paragraph about each plugin? Or is that not the point? – odedbd Dec 24 '12 at 19:24
@odedbd Don't waste your effort. Asking for plugin recommendations is not constructive to begin with. I can't see your deleted answers, so I can't comment on those, but at least I can tell you that some of the questions you've linked to need to be closed. – Bart Dec 24 '12 at 19:29
@bart Thanks for your comment (and also for the edit fixin of the question). If the questions are not considered constructive the answers probably can't either. – odedbd Dec 24 '12 at 19:44

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