I just came across the following comment from the OP on an Answer which made me feel a bit uncomfortable:

"Hey btw Dacwe, I'm one of the owners of a clothing company in Australia called Cyanide Clothing - link. Just for that awesome help I'd love to send you a free tee. You've saved me hours of stress! Check out the site and let me know if you're interested :)"

Here's the question: Crashing due to Integer.parseInt

The guy seems sincerely grateful, and a free T-shirt is obviously only a token reward, but it this kind of behaviour appropriate for SO?

(There is also a touch of "product promotion" going on here too, but that's not the point.)

  • 1
    Awkward name, Cyanide, but I can't talk. :-)
    – trashgod
    Sep 3, 2011 at 11:46
  • 2
    His first comment was kind of ok, but the second is starting to step over the line and is really bordering on product promotion.
    – slugster
    Sep 3, 2011 at 12:18
  • 3
    @slugster, I totally agree. Flag as spam!
    – Arjan
    Sep 3, 2011 at 12:23
  • @Arjan agreed. --
    – Pekka
    Sep 3, 2011 at 12:25
  • @slugster - I originally thought about flagging. But I thought what he was trying to do excused the "touch of self promotion". And I wouldn't fault him for making the offer.
    – Stephen C
    Sep 3, 2011 at 13:21

3 Answers 3


The only potential problems I see in situations like this:

  • The asker becomes known for behaviour like this, and people treat his questions differently (not closing bad ones, or spending more attention on them).
  • (There is also a touch of "product promotion" going on here too, but that's not the point.)

    The comment sitting there is a bit like an ad for them, and is entirely off-topic, so I'd prefer it be removed.

  • It's actually a scam, somehow.

These things aside, I don't think there's anything wrong with compensating people for helping you.

  • 1
    These are all good reasons why this kind of thing might be a problem. However, in this case the OP has no direct way to make contact with the guy who provided the answer. (The answering guy's SO website link serves an empty page.)
    – Stephen C
    Sep 3, 2011 at 13:06
  • @StephenC: Sure, I don't mean to be accusing him of anything. However, it might be appropriate to delete the comment after they've made contact.
    – Jeremy
    Sep 3, 2011 at 13:41

Why not? A person can give another person a tee in real life, why not on SO? Isn't SO a community?

There's nothing inappropriate I can see about this, and there seem to be no downside to this(unless everyone starts asking Jeff for a Tee when their questions get more than ten upvotes)

  • +1 - actually, I find it really nice to see that something like this happens occasionally!
    – Pekka
    Sep 3, 2011 at 12:22

I share your feeling that this is off topic. Maybe there should be a possibility for private messages on Stack Overflow, for these kinds of things? Because if the gratitude is genuine, then I think it's a nice move but it shouldn't be linked like that in a comment.

In any case, the OP doesn't seem to have repeated this practice, so it's not really typical spam:


  • The problem is filtering the private messages though to avoid the entirely undesirable ones.
    – Flexo
    Sep 3, 2011 at 11:58
  • 1
  • @awoodland: You're right. I wasn't aware of that
    – Lukas Eder
    Sep 3, 2011 at 12:04
  • But what are people supposed to do if not add a link? Describe the product they're offering (i"t's, like, a purplish green T-Shirt with a giant carrot on it...")? The link is 100% okay to me. However, the second big comment asking for promotion is not. That's just spam.
    – Pekka
    Sep 3, 2011 at 12:26
  • @Eat more Twisters: In general that's true. In the past, I've seen 1-2 promotions along with bogus questions / answers that were somehow related to a product but not really useful. "Disguised spam", I'd say... and they looked similar to this promotion here. That's why I checked on Google, if there were more links from Stack Overflow to that company.
    – Lukas Eder
    Sep 3, 2011 at 13:11
  • @Lukas fair point. ----
    – Pekka
    Sep 3, 2011 at 13:12

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