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I've just read this question (now deleted). What is the policy on putting affiliate tags into Amazon links on Stack Overflow? What about other affiliate links?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Personally, I would flag any affiliate links as spam.

Appropriate on your blog, but not on a public forum, IMO.

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Unfortunately, even thought the question is closed, the affiliate links remain. Is it appropriate to edit these out (or replace them with yours Jeff)? –  David M Jul 6 '09 at 11:49
    
I'd just remove the links altogether and put the explanation in the edit reasons. –  ChrisF Jul 6 '09 at 12:39
    
So imagine a link thats a useful answer to the question, but just happens to be an affiliate link. (Even better, one that has a clear disclosure.) Is that so bad it should be flagged as spam? –  billpg Jul 22 '09 at 12:38
    
yes, it should be flagged as spam -- we don't allow users to directly advertise their businesses here (other than ambient links in their user profile) so why would we allow it here? –  Jeff Atwood Jul 23 '09 at 0:24
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@Jeff I disagree with you, but this isn't my website. :) –  billpg Jul 23 '09 at 11:30
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I think markdown should automatically add a StackOverflow affiliate link. More revenue, less ads! –  Benjol Jan 13 '10 at 13:15
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What about instances where both the poster and the person who follows the link get some non-monetary benefit? A little extra storage in Dropbox, for instance? –  Al E. Jan 7 '11 at 18:30
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What about instances where the poster gets some non-monetary benefit such as a badge on Stack Exchange? –  Gilles Aug 7 '12 at 9:47
    
@JeffAtwood What if the link doesn't point directly to a website but use as a sample code? Like if I copied that from my own code as ref. Is that appropriate to be banned for that? –  Idan Feb 9 at 17:00
    
Can you elaborate a bit more on this "decision" Jeff? What do you think is the problem with people posting affiliate links? –  jorijnsmit Dec 12 at 23:49

I think that flagging any affiliate link as spam is overly harsh. Posts should be edited to remove the affiliate indication in compliance with the policy. Put a link to this thread in the edit summary and leave a comment on one post so that the user is notified through their inbox.

Harsher measures should only be taken if a user keeps including affiliate links after having been pointed to the policy. If a user remains deaf to comments or rolls the affiliate link back in, flag one of their posts for moderator attention and explain the situation.

Note that amazon.com links are automatically converted to use Stack Exchange's affiliate code.

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Depends on what is going on. If you are answering a question concerning books or products and you are giving examples of really good books, I would more or less look past it (because if they are the one giving me the product for the first time and I like it, I wouldn't mind giving them some kickback for the review).

If they are asking a question or something and it is more blatantly spam trying to sell products without any real value behind it (or if that review or link is not a good idea on that particular question/answer) then I will be like ChrisF and flag it as spam.

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Actually David M did the flagging, I said I would be tempted but hadn't got round to it in this case. –  ChrisF Jul 6 '09 at 11:33
    
I was referring to you "I'd be tempted to flag it as spam". I admit I didn't really read your answer thoroughly (it's still early!). –  TheTXI Jul 6 '09 at 11:36
    
I did flag it, and to be honest had the poster not included the throwaway "here's another book with an affiliate link in it" at the end of his/her question I might have let it go! –  David M Jul 6 '09 at 11:49
    
As I mention in my updated answer it was the second link that clinched it for me too. –  ChrisF Jul 6 '09 at 12:38

I would say that if the affiliate links are not affecting the answer in any way, to leave them in. If a person gives a great answer that happens to include a few affiliate links, so long as those links are completely relevant, then there is no harm in it. Especially if Stack Exchange doesn't have a link of their own to the question.

My example would be this answer. The same quality of answer is there with or without the affiliate links, but the affiliate links give the poster of the answer a chance to make a small amount of money that would otherwise be lost (Actually, the various service providers would essentially make that money, giving them completely free advertisement).

However, if a person is showing an obvious bias, or self-promoting products, then they should be removed completely and quickly.

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