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I've flagged one of the posts of the following user as needing moderator attention, but I'm expanding here to explain the reason for my flag a little more in depth.

User:

http://stackoverflow.com/users/80894/pawel-lesnikowski

This user has been doing a lot of spamming of his personal commercial libraries in answers to questions related to email.

Not all of his posts are spam, however; he seems to be interested in doing some actual community help in non-email posts, and even has a +10 answer. Unfortunately for him, he's squandered the rep in downvotes from his email spam.

So I'm not saying we need to delete the guy, maybe just contact him and ask him to tone it down. Or maybe ask him if he wants to purchase some advertising. Maybe we can turn this into win-win :)

I've only just found these posts:

Advertising users on the trilogy - Outlook plugin case

Time for a spring cleaning in the dusty corner of .NET mail reading

Apologies for my lack of diligence in searching. The guy had so many I just assumed he hadn't been dealt with.

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+1 for the win-win –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Apr 15 '10 at 22:23
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I will downvote anyone who thinks Robert C. Martin has a clue. But I think it's OK to push your own projects if they solve the problem in question. –  nb69307 Apr 15 '10 at 22:27
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@Neil Butterworth: Aw, why the hate for Uncle Bob? He's the guy who first got me fired up on TDD. And I agree, it's ok to drop a line to your own projects (nobody bitches when brian d foy drops a line to his books), but not in the manner this guy has been doing it, IMO. He posts stuff like "here's how to do it with my product: [teh codez]". Something acceptable might be (again, IMO) "Well, you could do it like this: [teh default framework codez], but I've written a library that might save you some time: [teh linkz]." –  Randolpho Apr 15 '10 at 22:38
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Maybe the answers could be edited slightly from "Try this library" to "Try this library I wrote (it costs $x)" ? Ignoring the fact he wrote the library, they are perfectly reasonable answers - as long as he discloses who the author is, what is the problem? –  dbr Apr 15 '10 at 22:58
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@dbr: the main problem is that he does so usually under questions where a free alternative is asked. Aside from the answer being irrelevant, he does so without shame by copypasting the same answer all over the place. And not only for his mail.dll, but also for his barcode library (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/46183/…). Spamming is his attitude. –  Marek Apr 16 '10 at 5:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I've already been in contact with him recently. Many of his posts were flagged as spam and removed a few days ago. However, a few of his other posts weren't because they do seem to answer the questions asked and disclose that the solution is a commercial product. This sort of thing has been brought up on meta before, and the consensus then seemed to be that these two elements were required in order for any kind of self-promotion to be okay.

How do I mention my own products in answers?
Vendors on Stack Overflow
Is it appropriate to mention my product in a StackOverflow answer?

(I'm not bringing up these old posts as a way to put a cap on this current discussion. Just bringing them up as a point of reference.)

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When you were in contact with him, did he agree to tone down his spamming? –  Maxim Zaslavsky Apr 15 '10 at 23:54
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@Maxim Z: He's adding "Please note that this is a commercial product I've created." to his remaining posts to make it perfectly obvious that it's a product of his. He's also aware that he needs to restrict these types of answers only to questions where they're relevant. I'd be interested in hearing any other guidelines that anyone thinks would be fair. If it's not cool to post this stuff at all, we need to make that clear. –  Bill the Lizard Apr 16 '10 at 0:06
    
That's really good! I completely agree with the guidelines you've just explained and those set in the questions you linked to it your answer. Thanks! –  Maxim Zaslavsky Apr 16 '10 at 0:15

Hi guys,

Seems I should join the discussion.

1. I always thought it was obvious that I was the author of the component, as all links include my entire surname.

Seem I was wrong in my assumption, I'm sorry.

2. Currently if I edit all my posts to add 'This is a commercial product, written by me' clause. All posts would end up in the hot section.

Several post edited by the same user in short amount of time is, by SO community standards, spam. So they down-vote.

They have the right, but from my point of view it seems like no disclaimer = down-vote, disclaimer added = down-vote.

(This exactly what happened a week ago when I updated the posts to use most recent API)

3. I've also seen people down-vote on my good answers in completely different fields. And for me getting personal is the last thing I'd like to see on SO.

4. My opinion is: that my posts are not spam:

  • They are relevant to the question (If they are not, call me stupid, not evil)
  • The are relevant to the technology (There are no posts about the components in php-related questions)
  • They help to solve the issue.
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Your points about editing attracting even more attention are very accurate. It is a tricky one. –  Marc Gravell Apr 16 '10 at 6:05
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@Pawel Lesnikowski, just a opinion about editing, save your post urls and delete those, edit those after you deleted, and undeleted it after 2 or 3 days. And btw I did flagging on many of your posts regarding on Mail, Barcode UI few days ago, sorry about that. There was nothing personal. –  YOU Apr 16 '10 at 6:44
    
I have to say that I agree with that, as the answers are actually matching to the questions, but indeed all of them should include a disclaimer about the fact that this is your program. It would lead to less argument. Also, please answer only "new" questions. If you revive old ones just to add your product, it looks again like simple advertising. –  Gnoupi Apr 16 '10 at 7:43
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@Gnoupi I'm perfectly ok with adding the disclaimer. I don't get the logic behind 'not adding answers to old questions'. If the answer is valid, why is it not proper? –  Pawel Lesnikowski Apr 16 '10 at 8:27
    
@S.Mark You lost me. Are you saying that I should delete my posts, then edit them, then undelete? Does it prevent them from popping in hot section? –  Pawel Lesnikowski Apr 16 '10 at 8:38
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@Pawel - If this is a question without accepted answer, ok. But if not, then it looks like you are only putting your advertisement on every related question. Because for these questions, the original asker doesn't need a solution anymore, so it's only placing your product for future web searches that land on the question. Such behavior would make you look only like a desperate advertiser, and will generate votes as spam. Because you actually wake up a dead question just for yourself. –  Gnoupi Apr 16 '10 at 8:48
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@Gnoupi I disagree, as others can benefit from new answers, not only the user that asked the question. But this rule is clear enough and I'll not do that in future. –  Pawel Lesnikowski Apr 16 '10 at 9:09
    
@Pawel, deleted posts cannot votes / flag and can't even seen for people with under 10k rep except owner, So when you delete and edit those, questions might bump to start page, but it won't harm you by misunderstand downvotes or flags. but don't undelete it right away, do it later on, may be tommorrow or kind of (I said 2 or 3days before (but now all your posts on flag list is gone, may be reached spam flag threadshold). There was many of your posts are in flag lists in 10k tools, those flag go away after 2 days, so just to prevent misunderstand alerts) –  YOU Apr 16 '10 at 9:22
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@Pawel: +1 for joining the discussion with very good points. I want you to know, that the primary ill will I had towards you "spam-like" anwers - as mentioned in my question - was the fact that you posted the duplicate answers to duplicate questions. Being a [Yearling] it would have been appropriate if you had rather commented/flagged the duplicates, asking for them to be closed/merged. –  Jørn Schou-Rode Apr 16 '10 at 10:07
    
@Jørn Schou-Rode I can't mark questions as duplicates, don't know if I was able before. –  Pawel Lesnikowski Apr 16 '10 at 10:17
    
@Pawel Lesnikowski, IIRC, you had around 1600+ rep before, but to vote to closed as duplicate, you need 3000 rep, but normally when we can't vote for closed as duplicates, we do commenting to the questions with duplicate links, and sometimes flag to moderator. Thats normally works. –  YOU Apr 16 '10 at 10:29
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@Pawel: I realize I've created a controversy here, but please try to understand: of the people who are posting here, there are hundreds with voting powers and flagging powers who do not post here, and based on the downvotes you've been getting, I'd say they agree that what you have been doing is inappropriate advertising. As I wrote in my original post, I think you are trying to be a valuable member of the community here, and I appreciate that. And again, I have no problems with you dropping the occasional line to your product; quite a few members of the community do that. (cont.) –  Randolpho Apr 16 '10 at 14:20
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I think the problem is the manner in which you do this. It's copy paste, and sometimes only marginally related to the question at hand. I therefore suggest the following: the email tag currently has no sponsored links. Purchase a sponsorship for that tag for your product. Consider purchasing a sidebar ad for your product. We can make this profitable for both you and the folks who own Stack Overflow. –  Randolpho Apr 16 '10 at 14:25
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It seems to me that if this feature were implemented - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/37933/… - that Pawel would be able to edit his posts to add the appropriate disclaimer without bumping all the questions and attracting people's ire. –  Ether Apr 16 '10 at 16:32
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This cannot be emphasized enough: It's copy paste, and sometimes only marginally related to the question at hand. Unrelated answers or related-just-barely-if-you-squint answers are unsolicited; the copy-paste answers are spam. I understand it's hard to craft a good answer for each question, but if you want these to not be spam, that's what you need to do. –  Gnome Apr 18 '10 at 4:27

Just to put another angle on this... it could be argued that I spam my own personal (non-commercial, in this case) library (protobuf-net). It is very far from the only thing I talk about (so I don't think I'm an astroturfer). And in both our cases the posts are on-topic.

Perhaps the biggest difference is that his is commercial and mine isn't. But a commercial product can also be the most appropriate solution to a coding problem.

I think what I am getting at is: sometimes it is a very grey area. Which is why the posts haven't been blanket deleted (like we would for obvious spammage). As such, I think it is really valuable and important to have this discussion here on meta.

Now... can I sell you some watches? meds? ;-p

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