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I noticed this answer on Super User this morning, obvious advertisement for some commercial plugin. Quite usual situation, happening frequently.

What is more surprising, though, is the amount of upvotes this user got for his other answer, advertising one as well. The answer was clearly off topic, but it got highly upvoted, very fast.

Following this track, we can see another user advertising the same product, once again with quite good reputation (for an advertiser, of course). His only answers are about this product, and the other one is where we reach a wonderful, magical place!

The place where everyone agrees that this product is wonderful, ideal, so great, and all with high votes! This question has obviously been cleaned up already, many of the users are deleted (we could probably get rid of their CW posts as well), but it shows really a "farm" of advertising users, and smarter than the usual.

For example, this one posted a valid question, to gather enough reputation to be able to vote. And same for others, finally. That way, they advertise, agree with each other, and upvote each other!

Edit: Even better, they use questions to criticize a competing product, and accept their own as a correct answer to that!

So if some moderators are motivated to make a bit of a spring cleaning, a Google search shows most of the posts to clean (I think only one of them is legitimate), and the users with it ;-)

Edit2: As shown by json, it's also on Stack Overflow and Server Fault.

We need to take down the whole gang!

eliot ness

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Wow, good find! –  Pëkka Apr 9 '10 at 16:35
Well I've used up all my SU spam flags for the day... –  ChrisF Apr 9 '10 at 16:37
You deserve a badge for this. Of course, if they made such a badge, then people would try to get it. We'd have users creating nine sockpuppets, eight to participate in an ad ring like this and one to report them all as spam afterwards for the badge.... –  Pops Apr 9 '10 at 16:54
thanks Gnoupi, i'm looking into this now. got a small list of users but the mod IP crosscheck isn't picking them up. whee. –  quack quixote Apr 9 '10 at 17:34
Gnoupi deserves a Goodfellas badge for taking down gang of thugs –  Ivo Flipse Apr 9 '10 at 19:39
While in this case it's probably just spam, I don't mind if people advertise their software as long as they can give us an explanation of why that product solves the users problem. Spammers are just lazy and simply post a link... –  Ivo Flipse Apr 9 '10 at 19:43
@Ivo: like I did? –  perbert Apr 9 '10 at 19:53
@Ivo: true enough. tho it's always nice to disclose one's affiliations when suggesting a product. "i work for these guys, so i'm biased, but WidgetFlubber2000 roxx!" –  quack quixote Apr 9 '10 at 20:41
i vote @Gnoupi changes his gravatar to that pic... –  quack quixote Apr 10 '10 at 20:18
@quack - actually, the square crop is making the image a bit poor (en.gravatar.com/userimage/8581156/…), I'll go with something similar, though. –  Gnoupi Apr 10 '10 at 21:54
awww, that's too bad. i like the alternative, tho the thumbnail isn't too clear. (i liked the old one too; after i posted that comment i wondered if you could photoshop a tommygun into it and get the best of both!) –  quack quixote Apr 10 '10 at 22:43
@quack - I'll give more time to the initial one, it's indeed more in the tone. We'll see if it goes ok. –  Gnoupi Apr 10 '10 at 23:12
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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There seem to be several users involved in this. All have (1) low rep (<200), (2) 1-5 answers, (3) 0-2 questions, (4) great excitement about the product. As you note, Gnoupi, their questions are often astroturfing by a spreading FUD about a competing product.

There were 10 different users, 8 of those users could be grouped into 3 sets by crossreferenced IPs. It's hard to tell if they were actual sockpuppets, or actually different users happening upon the same IP at different times via DHCP, NAT'd, whatever.

There were some apparently legitimate posts that mention the product and link to the site, but it seems innocent. Be careful with your flags. :)

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Yes, I was referring quickly to that post. Thank you for the effort, our streets are now more clean and safe! –  Gnoupi Apr 10 '10 at 10:27
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While working on IMAP stuff yesterday, I came across Pawel Lesnikowski who seemed to have answered every question I read with this very answer, or one very close:

There is no .NET framework support for IMAP. You'll need to use some 3rd party component.

Try Mail.dll email component, it's very affordable and easy to use, it also supports SSL:

using(Imap imap = new Imap())
    imap.Login("user", "password");

    List<long> uids = imap.SearchFlag(Flag.Unseen);
    foreach (long uid in uids)
        string eml = imap.GetMessageByUID(uid);
        IMail message = new MailBuilder()


You can download it here: http://www.lesnikowski.com/mail.

Although not all of his contirbutions are ads for his products, it is a little annoying...

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I've used up all my spam flags for today on this guy, so I've added a new bookmarks folder to track this user and come back to flag more tomorrow. –  Ether Apr 10 '10 at 16:45
@Ether, holy crap dude. your like a lion stalking an antelope. –  Earlz Apr 10 '10 at 18:25
@Earlz: you are more right than you think, as she is like a lioness, and lioness are the ones that hunt. –  perbert Jul 9 '10 at 21:40
That is not that bad an answer, what we need is an answer that lists all th options that can then get voted higher. –  Ian Ringrose Nov 19 '10 at 9:13
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