What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 133 Stack Exchange communities.

I noticed quite a number of posts where someone would advertise an alternative serialization library, since I more or less follow the tag.

Just now, I got another one: Packing struct in Boost Asio buffer, and decided to have a look.

To my surpise, this user http://stackoverflow.com/users/1639596/wood-brian has almost exclusively self-promoting answers.

  • The vast majority of his 39 answers mention and link to his library[1].
  • Most often, it starts out with a link, and
  • Not infrequently the answer has a tenuous link to the question, and sometimes, the answer doesn't contain anything more than just the link

I do realize this is at least in part a work of love. I do personally feel it's a bit too much, though, and it might have crossed the invisible line where it becomes abuse of StackOverflow for advertising purposes.

I don't know whether the guy has any commercial interest in spreading his library, but aside from that, the principle should be considered: when is spam spam, and when is it somehow acceptable? Or, when do we allow advertising, even though we prohibit it in general?


[1] In fact, it's easier to link the few answers that are not advertising his product:


Here's a collage of the 18 most recent answers in case they get clobbered/are inaccessible to <10k users.

Update November 10th 2014 added a chapter to this story. In a now-deleted meta.SO question (http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/276430/a-stubborn-self-promotor-has-returned ) I exposed a list of newly added answers by the same poster. In the interest of historical reference, here is a screenshot of that question after @animuson handled it: http://i.imgur.com/sNrWe6e.png

share|improve this question
    
PS. I omit the site/product name here in the interest of not inadvertantly helping SEO. Just click any link to find it –  sehe Apr 4 at 19:49
1  
faq entry: meta.stackexchange.com/q/94022/147247 –  Kate Gregory Apr 4 at 19:55
    
@KateGregory thanks for that. I do feel that's more on the topic of "shallow answers" than that of "advertising" (though it's obviously related, in that it concerns using SO to drive traffic to external resources) –  sehe Apr 4 at 19:58
1  
Added a collage of the 18 most recent answers in case they get clobbered/are inaccessible to <10k users: Imgur-ed collage http://i.imgur.com/JEeoBrC.png –  sehe Apr 4 at 20:20
6  
You fooled me! You claimed that link was a collage, but it's merely a scroll! :p –  Andrew Barber Apr 4 at 20:36
6  
I'm doing what the subject of your profile picture is right now :0 –  Andrew Barber Apr 4 at 20:40
4  
I've mod flagged a user for this before and something like 40 of their 100 answers were quickly disposed of. –  OGHaza Apr 4 at 21:24
    
Looks like spam to me. I flagged one answer with a link to this post. But if this is allowed, more will follow. –  Toon Krijthe Apr 7 at 9:03
2  
FYI: the same user also added several comments with a link to his site. –  Toon Krijthe Apr 7 at 9:09
1  
There's no pricing on the linked site, but the registration is required and it seems the usage of the library is dependent on their servers. It's very untransparent and looks suspicious. –  РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ Apr 7 at 9:27
    
@Łukasz웃Lツ I didn't think it was a licensed product. But it sure looks like at least the person is looking to create consultancy jobs off this for himself –  sehe Apr 7 at 9:29
1  
@sehe I haven't seen the info it's free, and if it is, why isn't it just available for download? Anyway, you don't post answers suggesting using of the whole product when OP wants one simple thing... Well, maybe with exception of jQuery, but jQuery is free and < 300kb :P –  РСТȢѸФХѾЦЧШЩЪЫЬѢѤЮѦѪѨѬѠѺѮѰѲѴ Apr 7 at 9:36
    
@Łukasz웃Lツ Oh, maybe one would, but most often people already state they're using e.g. boost-serialization –  sehe Apr 7 at 10:16
1  
@ToonKrijthe Oh. What was the solution? I thought we were still defining the problem, even deciding whether it was one (discussion). I haven't noticed any authoritative response/clear consensus myself –  sehe Apr 7 at 11:41
1  
@ToonKrijthe I noticed, you already have my +1 for that –  sehe Apr 7 at 11:52

2 Answers 2

up vote 16 down vote accepted

While promoting your open source library on Stack Overflow is perfectly fine, I felt this user was a few steps over the self-promotion line.

  • The vast majority of posts were linking to their own work.
  • A lot of those posts contained little information other than the link.
  • There was no disclosure of their affiliation.
  • They really weren't helping the SO community in any other (non-promotional) way.

This all combined gives me the feeling that the user was here exclusively to promote their own work. I deleted their promotional posts and sent them a warning. If they can edit the more helpful posts (particularly the ones with code examples) to include a disclosure of affiliation, those posts could be undeleted.

share|improve this answer
1  
Thanks for putting this reference point out there. Seems a reasonable course of action to me. –  sehe Apr 18 at 0:02

I think this is spam and it shouldn't be allowed.

I flagged one post with a link to this meta post, and as a result, 37 posts of the user are deleted, so I assume at least one mod thinks it is spam too and as such not acceptable.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .