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I know that putting a link to your blog in a signature is frowned upon and rightly so.

Is it okay to link to your blog in an answer if that blog post answers the question? Are there other situations where it would be acceptable to promote your own web site in a question or answer?

Related: Are you allowed to link to your blog post?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Sep 5 '09 at 14:07

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by Al E., cVplZ, doppelgreener, gnat, James Oct 22 at 10:51

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
So the overwhelming opinion seems to be do it if it makes sense for your post and people vote accordingly. –  Nick Berardi Aug 19 '08 at 0:59
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You shouldn't have deleted the question. It would have served as evidence. –  Jon Limjap Sep 12 '08 at 7:24
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By the way Diago, congrats on the mod status. –  Troggy Aug 19 '09 at 14:36
    
Thanks Troggy. Appreciated. –  Diago Aug 19 '09 at 15:23
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Should this form part of the FAQ? –  Diago Aug 19 '09 at 15:24

24 Answers 24

up vote 31 down vote accepted

I do that all the time, and no-one's ever complained. So long as the link is to a page which is relevant to the question, I don't see what's wrong with it.

If I've already spent hours writing up the answer as an article (usually a long time before even seeing the question), why would I want to do the same again here?

To counter the possibility of someone suggesting that the content should be copied:

  • In some cases there may be formatting etc which just doesn't fit well in SO.
  • Formatting a large article can take a long time, and it's just a waste if the information is elsewhere already. I'd rather answer another question.
  • A massive article would also dwarf other answers and be somewhat intimidating to other people, I suspect.
  • Having multiple copies of an article around means that they're likely to get stale - if someone suggests a better way of explaining things, I like to only have to edit one page.

I do try not to plug my book too often though - at least not the chapters which aren't freely available. I'm happy to give a plug as an extra bit of information, but an answer of just "Buy my book and read chapter 4" would be pretty rude, IMO.

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You were one of the people I was thinking of when I thought that this might be a good idea to allow. –  Bill the Lizard Nov 18 '08 at 14:10
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LOL. There are lots of people putting a lot of time and effort into blog posts. I don't see how getting interested and relevant eyeballs on those posts can be a bad thing. –  Jon Skeet Nov 18 '08 at 14:13
    
+1: If it answers the question, it isn't SPAM, is it? Links to references seem to be encouraged, and I see little difference. –  Ken Gentle Nov 18 '08 at 14:33
    
I agree. I've done a few (though not many) links to my own posts when relevant. I've gotten downvoted once for it, and the other time believe I was actually upvoted a couple times. (Would have to look.) As long as it's (a) relevant and (b) correct, I see no harm in it. –  John Rudy Nov 18 '08 at 14:41
    
It's ok if the people copy the code over here. The reason I think it's I agree that it's better to have only one place the source but no one can edit and it will end that SO will only be a "link proxy". –  Daok Nov 18 '08 at 14:55
    
@Daok: I think there's little risk that SO will consist solely of links. There are plenty of questions which aren't readily answered by existing articles (or where explaining the answer is quicker than finding a link). –  Jon Skeet Nov 18 '08 at 15:00
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And when your blog goes away, or is disrupted due to service issues, then those answers can simply rot, right? If you're posting a link, please at least give a succinct answer here so that when, not if, the URLs change or go away then the answer is still useful and valid. You don't have to copy it all in, reformat it, etc. –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '10 at 13:56
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Precious few answers require a 5 page treatise to get to the point. Say, "Here's the answer, blah, blah, blah, and if you need to understand the why, check out myblog.com/42 " - it should be 15 seconds to cut and paste the relevant answer paragraph and make a link, or up to a minute to summarize the conclusion and make a link. –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '10 at 14:02
    
However, I understand that sometimes you might have to decide whether to answer at all with a quick 5 second link to ephemeral material, or not answer at all - in which case please do answer. I hope eventually someone else comes along and fixes the post later, or that your site is archived by archive.org, but the immediate, quick fix is very useful and an important part of SO. –  Adam Davis Mar 2 '10 at 14:04
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I do usually provide a succinct summary - but often a link is "For more details, see ..." –  Jon Skeet Mar 2 '10 at 14:54
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Yeah... but you're Jon Skeet. –  snicker Mar 2 '10 at 16:46
    
I believe it would serve the community to actively encourage reading of your book. –  surfasb Feb 17 '13 at 21:36

It is absolutely appropriate when it is on topic, but ideally when you use it to supplement the text in your answer. Actually, on a few occasions I've reversed this and blogged about something because I found it an interesting question (I might talk more about the "journey", and other asides on my blog - where-as the stackoverflow post will cover just the details relevant to the question, with a link to the blog).

But:

  • not as a regular tagline / footer / signature
  • there is a line somewhere when it becomes spam - the extreme case being when every answer you post is just a link to your blog and nothing else; the community will start flagging that as removal
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+1 for the note about supplementing the text in your answer. Ideally, an answer to a question should have an answer in it. –  Tracy Probst Aug 19 '09 at 16:12
    
Mind you, when I notice self linking, I turn the gain on the spam-o-meter up a little. That said, I haven't seem much abuse in answers... –  dmckee Aug 19 '09 at 16:22

For the answer to that question, check out my blog post "Is blogspam ever okay?"

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I'm now trying to work out whether or not I'm disappointed that it wasn't a Rickroll... –  Jon Skeet Nov 18 '08 at 17:29
    
hahah. man. i so should have done that instead. –  CodingWithoutComments Nov 18 '08 at 19:20
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i just cannot stop laughigh about this answer :) awesome ^^ recursion as a joke is just even more funny! –  Joachim Kerschbaumer Dec 15 '08 at 23:01
    
Link has broken? –  Ben Voigt Oct 21 at 15:29

There's "nofollow" on the links so you can't gain any Google juice with the link.

I say go for it.

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I'm not familiar with that concept. Can you explain more or provide a link? –  benc Sep 21 '09 at 5:10
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@benc: rel="nofollow" basically tells Google and others to ignore the link when calculating the page rank of the target. So if I link to a blog post in an SO answer, it won't increase the page rank of the blog post. This removes a lot of incentive for link spammers. It doesn't, of course, remove the incentive for people trying to promote their blogs to the SO readership. But frankly I'm not seeing a lot of that on SO. –  T.J. Crowder Dec 20 '09 at 10:24

Well your blog might be less permanent than StackOverflow.

An answer which is written on a blog and linked to is a useless answer if the blog is unavailable when someone later finds the question and follows the link

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Another fine point. Maybe a summary here to answer the question, followed by a link to more background information would be appropriate? –  Bill the Lizard Nov 18 '08 at 14:14
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Don't forget the reverse is true too: the question may be less permanent than your blog, given that the questioner could delete it. If you've spent hours writing an answer (and no, I haven't done this specifically for an SO question yet) wouldn't you rather have that content under your own control? –  Jon Skeet Nov 18 '08 at 14:17

I think if you ONLY post a link it's open to debate whether it should be there or not. However, if you introduce the link w/ a few sentences or where the link takes you, what the content of the link is, etc... I think it should be OK.

In your case, though, if I remember correctly, there was very little content contained in the original post. Just a few words then a link. I think that's OK to do in an answer, but a question needs to have substance. Also, your Blog post, IMO, didn't have that much substance either. And I think that was part of the problem.

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I'm a bit late to the party, but everyone commenting in favor of linking to blog posts seems to be a person who actually has a blog and links to it. In my opinion, SO is supposed to be like Bowser's castle in world 8: the answer is here, not in another castle.

I think an appropriate guideline for SO would be analogous to Wikipedia: links to supporting references are acceptable and welcome, but the meat of the answer, as it were, should be found on SO.

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Absolutely. I do this all the time. Just make sure that the link is genuinely relevant, and post at least a summary of the text in your answer so that it's a useful answer on its own.

(I've a sneaking suspicion this question is a dupe, but a quick search hasn't found one. Maybe someone else will have more luck.)

To me, the litmus test is whether you would have posted the same link even if it wasn't to your site. If so, I see no reason to deny readers useful information just because it's your own content.

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My only caveat would be to avoid posting the link in such a way as to make visiting it required to understand the Q/A. For instance posting a question "I have a problem go here to erad it www.blah.com" would be a problem for me. However posting a question that is a valid question without the link then posting the link to show an example or give more details is a fine idea. –  EBGreen Aug 19 '09 at 13:41

If its actual content you wrote, I'd say its okay. If its a post that contains little more than a link to somebody else's work, I say leave your blogspammy links at home.

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Excellent point. I'd definitely prefer a link to the original source in that case, too. –  Bill the Lizard Nov 18 '08 at 14:11
    
Ditto. The one exception I'd make is if there are lots of relevant articles, and you've already collected them, possibly summarised them, got rid of the cruft etc. The key question is: does the page provide extra value? –  Jon Skeet Nov 18 '08 at 14:14

I would say that posting a relevant, germane blog link in response to a question, along with explanatory text, is certainly admissible. Also, posting to your own blog in the question as part of a larger explanation (while not detracting from the readability or clarity of the text on the SO question page) seems reasonable to me as well. For example, Jeff might write:

"How do you run background tasks in ASP.NET? I've written a post about this on the StackOverflow Blog, and I've found the best solution so far to be XXXX (maybe a sentence or paragraph). But, I still have YYY reservations with this model. Any ideas on how to do it better?"

Where I could see this being an issue is when you're posting not-so-relevant links to your own stuff as answers with little supporting text. That could get annoying.

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I've done this, but very rarely (around 2 or 3 times in over 1000 answers). I do think it's acceptable if your previous post is exactly what the question is asking for. I'd still add a summary of information on the site you're posting to (don't just drop a link), so the question is answered without going off site.

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Since we link to outside blogs when answering questions fairly frequently, it doesn't seem unreasonable to link to your own if that's where the best answer is.

The question is whether you'll be tempted to link to your own blog when the post you're linking to is only tangentially related to the question, or only marginally useful. You might justifiably be slammed in rep if either is the case. And since it's your blog, your judgment of whether it is the "best" information available may be skewed.

For questions, the same logic applies, but you have to be even more careful that your question is welcome. The onus is on you, and so far it's seemed that questions are held to a higher standard than answers (since they're far more visible).

So, proceed with caution.

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That's where voting comes in - if others deem it not "best", it will not be voted-up. –  warren Nov 18 '08 at 14:14
    
Exactly - the great thing about SO is that this is a judgement call on an individual post basis, and voting is applied in the same way. –  Jon Skeet Nov 18 '08 at 14:15

Don't link to your blog in questions, the entire question should be in this site.

I don't want to visit another site in order to understand the question.

nofollow doesn't really make any difference - SO can automatically add it anyway. Links to your blog in questions feels like trying to get people to read your blog. Google-rank aside I'd still consider it spam.

For answers you can link to your own blog, if it's relevant, but the main part of the answer should still be in SO, not your blog.

You can ignore this advice if you want, but those that break it tend to get voted down or even flagged as spam.

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I've done this too. IMHO it's fine to refer to content on your personal blog so long as it is relevant to the question. Certainly not any sigs or the like however.

You could take this as far as going to look for questions that are relevant to something you've written and then throwing in a link with an answer.

Bear in mind though that spurious links on SO won't help you at all with search engines. External links seems to have the ref="nowfollow" attribute added, meaning Google won't follow them or use them in PageRank determination.

All the more reason to make sure what you're posting is relevant.

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Obviously if you have already explained an answer, no use copying it over here. A link is definitely appropriate in that case. I'm not sure of other cases where it would be acceptable. While there probably are some, I would assume they are few and far between.

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It would simply be a misnomer to call a relevant link / answer to a question "Blogspam", regardless of whos blog it is on.

The problem as I see it is random links that don't have anything to do with the question--

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I think that the info should be cut/paste into the answer for many of the reasons given above. The largest being that the fact that your blog may move. Broken links are one of the biggest issues I have with the web. That said, I think it's quite reasonable to include the link to the original source as well as the cut/paste.

As far as the no blog links in the signature. I don't get that at all. It just doesn't make any sense at all to me. The signature is your own little tiny personal space on their bigger space. It's there to tell a quick blurb about yourself. What better way than through your blog link?

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By "signature", I meant leaving a link to your blog in every question and answer you post on StackOverflow. Having a link in your profile is perfectly acceptable (encouraged, even). –  Bill the Lizard Nov 18 '08 at 14:54
    
related question stackoverflow.com/questions/277128/… –  Steven A. Lowe Nov 18 '08 at 15:43

As long as your reasoning is sound and you have data to back up your claims, I don't see why this is a problem. Especially if you have a Yegge-length post to link to and you'd like to keep your responses here more concise with a link at the end.

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I think the appropriate course of action is to copy/paste the relevant info from your blog. I however wouldn't be opposed to someone linking back to their blog for additional info

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Ironically, I just found this question via Bill's blog.

If the link is relevant then it doesn't matter who wrote the content. If I link to Jeff's blog that's OK, but if I link to my blog it's not OK unless I copy-and-paste the content? That doesn't sound right.

Copy-and-pasting is OK for short answers, but for longer answers a link is probably better (perhaps with a sentence or two explaining what you are linking to).

If you think that your blog article is relevant, include a link. If the community disagrees they will give you the down votes that you so richly deserve. As others have pointed out, this scenario doesn't really qualify as blogspam (unless you are linking to articles about how to get viagra from Canadian pharmacies).

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I'd say yes, as long as you're open about it, since it's kind of a conflict of interest. Just because Google doesn't see the link, it doesn't mean it doesn't benefit you.

I don't think some random user should have the authority to declare that certain behaviour is disallowed.

However, if your question doesn't make sense, or has no substance without the link, you should consider bringing more of it into the question itself so that people aren't forced to click another link to read your question. (Also, your blog may go down, etc.)

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As you've seen, I don't mind linking to my own blog if it helps to elaborate on a question. I wouldn't do it if it were only a small snippet of code I needed to post, but if the blog post contains a page or two of code and associated commentary, I'd prefer to leave that content there and use the Stack Overflow post just to ask the question.

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I am interested in a more liberal position because I think some people link for genuine reasons. Some people want to link to the content -only- because of relevance. Although other users might be trying to build their blog traffic or their google ranks, there are probably people out there who do not.

For example, I have a fogbugz.com trial account, which is free, and I use the wiki module as a parking lot for technical notes and a pipeline for various technical topics. It is sort of an extended memory bank. Sometimes, I am doing some stuff in SO, and I think: "I should just link to this page" to start the conversation...

There should be a way of allowing linking while mitigating the abusive usages.

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Why not just copy over the snippet? –  random Sep 21 '09 at 5:43
    
That works for some situations, I suppose. –  benc Jan 24 '10 at 6:50

Yes, this is ok when it is on topic. There is one thing I noticed recently though. Make sure the question actualy posts a question and some information on this website. There was a question posted a while back that said something like "I have this question posted over here, please take a look and tell me what you think". Obviously, the super mods descended from above and closed the question. The user was asked to post the question, but just left it as a link. So just something to think about. Otherwise, as long as it is relevant to the question, any extra information is useful.

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