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The SO help center, "Promotion" section says:

... you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

(my italics). I suggest it be revised to say something like:

... you must disclose your affiliation in your posts.

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  • Has the need for this come up somewhere? Do you have a link or two handy? I don't think I've seen many promotional questions that weren't outright spam (best watches!). Usually it's pretty clear if a product mentioned in the question is one that the OP is affiliated with.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 15:37
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    The Waldo question: stackoverflow.com/questions/8479058/… Arnoud clearly mentions his affiliation in his profile, but not in the question. I think it's a great question, but I'm a little uncomfortable with it, especially as it's gone viral. Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 15:43
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    That doesn't look like a question that'd benefit from affiliation disclosure to me, but that could just be me. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 16:01
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    The whole section needs more information. I'd start at disclosing affiliation in your profile, then expound on link-only answers, answering where the question is old and has an accepted answer, etc etc etc.
    – user1228
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 16:28
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    UX.SE has a recent user who's been posting answers and questions soft-selling his product (here and here again). These weren't good questions anyway but IMO it should be disclosed that he is part of the company publishing UX Pin, the site he's sharing documents with. Thus far we've simply been removing his references to the product.
    – Zelda
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 17:08

3 Answers 3

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The sentence you quoted currently appears on both the /help/promotion and /help/behavior pages, network-wide.

As you note, this sentence only mentions answers, but the same logic that applies to promotional answers should apply to questions as well. And as tvanfosson's answer notes, the sentence presumably applies only to answers that mention the thing you're affiliated with, but it doesn't specify that explicitly.

I've now edited the quoted sentence (on both pages) to fix both these issues. It now reads:

However, if you mention your product, website, etc. in your question or answer, you must disclose your affiliation in your post.

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    What about mentioning affiliation in comments? In Disclosure for links in comments, there is a suggestion by Monica to apply the disclosure requirement to comments as well, would it be useful to add this to the Help Center too?
    – Marijn
    Commented Feb 5, 2022 at 11:46
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I would be ok with the change if they also added if your post uses or makes reference to your product or company to the end. I don't think it should be required to list your affiliation to ask a question unrelated to your product or company.

FWIW, I know (think) that is the intent of the current text, but it doesn't specify and, taken literally, if you ever included your product or company it seems that you would have to include the disclaimer in every question and answer.

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Questions should be subject to the same disclosure as answers

I definitively agree that questions should be subject to the same disclosure rules as answers. This is because its possible to create questions that act like a push poll. Currently doing this wouldn't be "against policy" since there's no policy of disclosure on questions.

Here's one I made up:

Shouldn't I be using product X?

Given that product x disinfects your widgets better than any product on the market why wouldn't you use product x.

Or imagine if the OP in this question had been associated with NoSQL (for the record I don't think he was). Would you want that association to be known? Particularly to the users who don't know to click on the OP's profile.

Do the disclosure rules make sense, and do all associations really need to be disclosed?

Even though I think disclosure rules should be the same for questions and answers, not all affiliations are the same.

For instance, even if you'd probably want me to disclose it if I asked dozens of questions on my pet open source project, that doesn't mean that you think Miguel de Icaza needed to disclose his association with Mono on his question How can I launch multiple instances of MonoDevelop on the Mac?.

I'm not sure how we can identify when you have to and when you don't, but as it stands there's definitely a potential for abuse on questions that needs to be balanced against making it easy for experts in the industry to participate on Stack Exchange.

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  • Your made up example is a terrible, not-constructive, NARQ that reads like an advertisement; your second, real, example is also (at best) skirting that line. Both should be closed or heavily edited no matter who wrote them. I don't see them as effectively arguing for disclosure.
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 20:47
  • As transparent as my made up example was, it wasn't much worse than Ben Brocka examples here and here. I think its a little less bad if he gave his association to product but the fact is he isn't required to. Besides I'm not a writer. I'm sure someone with talent could write much better push questions that I can and wouldn't be doing anything "wrong". Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 21:26
  • No, it's not worse, but again, those "questions" should be (and thankfully are) closed regardless of the writer's affiliation and regardless of disclosure.
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 21:32
  • Except closing not enough it still appears and in my view "makes the internet worse". It should probably be flagged as spam and deleted. Except one of the keys to spam is misrepresentation. But the author did play by the rules and it was a question (although not good ones). Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 21:41
  • Sorry, I still don't follow your argument. If a question is bad, it should be closed, or, sure, maybe deleted. If a user is truly astroturfing, they are unlikely to follow a disclosure rule. If the user is sincere and discloses affiliation, that doesn't make the question better. How does a disclosure rule help in either case?
    – jscs
    Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 21:51
  • The disclosure rule only works for honest agents (same with answers). You could argue that marcintreder is an honest agent and didn't break any rules. If the policy changes than in the future the exact same post would be considered breaking the rules. Which would lead to a different action. I guess I'm wrong about this (no upvotes) and perhaps my tinfoil hat is on to tight today :) Commented Dec 19, 2011 at 22:01

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