I've encountered this answer on SO.
At the end of the answer the user has placed a link to his article on a 3rd party site that requires paid subscription before reading articles. This makes the link totally useless. The answer by itself is useful, however.
After my downvote with comment why I did so, there was a bit of flame that ended up with a phrase, the paywalled link is useless only for penniless freeloaders, hence the title.
Worse than that. I'm a curious guy, so I went the user's profile and looked at the recent answers. Out of five most recent answers, three contain links to the same site: one, two, and the least one is useless without the content of the article.
I did not look in older answers (others did), and the pattern makes me thinking that the misleading link was not an innocent mistake, but the entire reason this user's presence on SO is promoting a paid site. Again, by itself there's no crime if the links are attributed well.
I've read carefully several articles here on Meta:
- Ban/mark/decorate external links requiring paid membership - I don't think it should be banned.
- How can I link to an external resource in a community-friendly way?
- How do I mention my own products in answers?
- Limits for self-promotion in answers
- Should the posts of this user be considered spam?
But I'm still confused. It is more surprising for me to see not a newbie like myself doing that, but someone with 3 years membership and 14k rep (I'm not kidding!).
So, considering the fact that removing bad links is against the major user's goal here, I'd like to know:
- Should I flag the answer (and comments within) as spam? If so, what formal reason to be there? "Soliciting"?
- Should such links clearly say
don't go there unless you have a paid subscription?
- Am I too sensitive, and it's just an innocent bad habit, or "penniless freeloaders" is a real horrible offense?
Am I required to submit my own answer before being eligible for downvoting this particular user?:-)
One more thing. I don't care about the personality of this user simply because you can't bring everyone to reason;
legio mihi nomen est, quia multi sumus. What I want is just an ability to distinguish misleading links from valid ones.
UPD After reading the answers and comments, I would like to direct the discussion in the following manner:
If you tend to prevent any paywalled links:
What to do with really good answers and a decent reputation that people make while answering? SO can't just throw it away;
If you're up to a free speech paradigm:
@Chris: this sets a precedent that changes the way I regard SO, so it was important to fix in my mind the feeling toward this type of action. I had scrupulously avoided it, previously.
@Widor: So, is it ok for us all to put up a satisfactory answer and include paid links with even more info for the curious (as long as they pay)?
Also, how these links are to be attributed?