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The type of question I refer to is a question that can be answered using easily available Windows Forms bulit-in capabilities, or, in some cases, references to CodeProject articles.

When I see an answer that only contains one sentence which suggests using a commercial suite that costs several hundred US $ : it does not seem approrpriate to SO to me.

Would you down-vote it? Seems like I am seeing many of these type replies lately on C# questions.

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Do you have any examples? –  ChrisF Mar 25 '10 at 9:51
    
@random your edit changed my question in an unacceptable way. I rolled it back. But I have altered it slightly. –  BillW Mar 25 '10 at 13:07
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@ChrisF I deliberately did not give examples since I consider doing so is a "negative" thing to do unless I first notify the poster I am criticising them for that answer, and give them a fair chance to respond here. I consider this a form of "not talking behind someone's back." –  BillW Mar 25 '10 at 13:10
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@BillW I don't mind being if you are negative about me - is this stackoverflow.com/questions/962152/… the kind of thing you are objecting to? –  nb69307 Mar 25 '10 at 13:28
    
@Neil, No, I am not referring to you, and have not read your question. Most of these answers that contain only the suggestion to use "Packaqe XXX" are coming from people with low-reps, possibly newcomers: another reason I hesitate to down-vote them (not wanting to discourage them). –  BillW Mar 25 '10 at 13:47
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Perhaps you could cut-and-paste a couple of examples of what the practice looks like replacing the link with x (to protect the innocent). Something like 'Try x'? –  amelvin Mar 25 '10 at 14:11

3 Answers 3

Unless the OP explicitely asked for nothing but Open Source – No, why should you?

And even in that case an answer like

Foobar is not Open Source, but it has exactly the features you asked for and has very fair and inexpensive licensing, so it might be interesting for you, in case you were mainly thinking about the price.

should be totally okay.

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If answers were in that form I think that's OK in any situation. –  amelvin Mar 25 '10 at 14:12
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@balpha fyi: I would never downvote an answer of the form you give above, and I would unhesitatingly recommend open-source software in a situation where I felt it offered a real advantage to the person who asked the question. I speak here of only only one-line answers that completely ignore the original question, and just recommend to buy some commercial product. And I am speaking of questions that really can be answered using very standard techniques in .NET and C#. I use a third-party TreeView myself, but would never mention it unless the questioner asked about 3rd. party treeviews. –  BillW Mar 26 '10 at 16:12

Such answers are ok, as long as they are indeed matching to the question, and that it's not an obvious advertising (like a case of most of related questions poked with the same kind of link by a new user).

If the answerer is involved with the commercial program he suggests, it would be good if he was telling it in the answer, to be fair.

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I think it would be good to tell even if it's about an Open Source project - there is always some bias, as you usually love your own baby best. –  Pëkka Mar 25 '10 at 10:11
    
@Pekka - indeed, edited the "commercial" out. –  Gnoupi Mar 25 '10 at 10:16

You should only vote up/down on answers with respect to their quality, not whether the answer involves commercial software or open source. If the OP specifically asks for open source or free software, but the only viable alternative is a commercial product should I then not answer the question? If I felt that using the open source alternatives was really a bad choice relative to the commercial software then I'd probably mention both but indicate why I think the commercial choice is superior.

The bottom line, I think, is context. Yes, down vote spam. Don't merely assume it's spam because it happens to be a commercial product. With @Gnoupi, I would agree that full disclosure is appropriate.

On a related note, though, an answer with only a link is a poor answer, no matter what it links to. You should always include at least a summary of the linked information to cover the case where the link changes in order to keep the answer viable.

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