I am noticing a few questions from appMobi Support, which are then followed up with answers, seemingly from employees of appMobi.

I am not sure what approach to take with such blatant Q&A handling of third-party APIs. Are we OK with this?! It smells a bit like free advertising, or free offloading of support queries for a paid API.

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    Wow, that is one involved vote ring! (nb: I realize they are probably not in it for the rep, as it appears they don't upvote their own stuff) – user7116 Sep 18 '12 at 18:59
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    @sixlettervariables There's almost no voting on any of the questions. – Servy Sep 18 '12 at 19:01
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    @Servy: it was a failed attempt at humor. – user7116 Sep 18 '12 at 19:09
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    I wish more products would replace some mailing list with using Stack Overflow. (That said: not for questions like this.) – Arjan Sep 18 '12 at 19:15
  • @Arjan poof - and it was gone – BryanH Sep 18 '12 at 23:04
  • All but one of the users' posts were deleted a few hours ago. Here are links for 10ks to (all of?) them: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 – Jeremy Sep 19 '12 at 4:11
  • And, @Jeremy, account suspended. When they recover from that, that many deleted posts might get it a question ban, maybe for the whole office IP address? (Not sure I like that, but well.) – Arjan Sep 19 '12 at 5:05

It's not uncommon for companies and projects to monitor our sites for support issues. There are also no rules about discouraging or removing questions about paid APIs on Stack Overflow so long as they're still programming questions.

Outsourcing their entire support channels to us is not appropriate, because a lot of support questions simply don't fit into our Q&A model (reporting bugs, defects, feature requests, etc). But if they want to monitor a tag and the questions are not off-topic or otherwise inappropriate, there's no harm in that in principle.

If the questions aren't useful or are otherwise poor, they should be edited or downvoted and/or closed as usual. If they are useful and good, why would we turn them away? Whether or not they're about a paid API is irrelevant here.

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    Though the "problem" here seems to be that one of them asks a question (of dubious quality) which is then always answered by one of the others. Not terrible perhaps, but not a great use of SO either. – Bart Sep 18 '12 at 19:05
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    @Bart Meh. If the questions aren't useful or are otherwise poor, they should be downvoted and closed as usual. If they are useful and good, why would we turn them away? – Adam Lear ModStaff Sep 18 '12 at 19:06
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    Most all of these questions are not real questions. They provide no details of specific problems whatsoever. They're just one-line questions you'd generally find in a product's FAQ pages. – animuson ModStaff Sep 18 '12 at 19:06
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    @animuson Then they should be moderated appropriately. Whether or not they're about a paid API is irrelevant. – Adam Lear ModStaff Sep 18 '12 at 19:07
  • @AnnaLear Yeah, which is why I put "problem" in quotation marks. – Bart Sep 18 '12 at 19:07
  • @AnnaLear The problem isn't that they're about a paid API, it's that there is an account that is clearly own by an employee that is posting questions to problems he clearly doesn't have (but are no doubt similar to frequently asked questions) knowing that another employee (or himself on another account) will answer the question right away. (That said, I don't expect it to change your answer.) – Servy Sep 18 '12 at 19:12
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    @Servy Yeah, that still doesn't look like a problem to me. If the questions are good and they aren't abusing voting (which it doesn't look like they are), we want those questions. If the questions are bad... it doesn't matter who's posting them either, they should be moderated as any other. – Adam Lear ModStaff Sep 18 '12 at 19:13
  • @NSPostWhenIdle Not really, given that their answers do answer the questions asked. And I don't really see a lot of evidence of cross-voting (questions are rarely upvoted, nor are the answers). Though some of the questions are really poor or off-topic. I have personally voted to close those. Some of them could/should even be deleted. – Bart Sep 18 '12 at 19:16
  • @Bart Most of the questions are accepted, so there is the +15 rep for that, but there aren't upvotes, that's correct. – Servy Sep 18 '12 at 19:19
  • @Servy Sure, point taken. Though we have all seen more extreme examples of vote-fraud than this I think. (I wouldn't even call this such) – Bart Sep 18 '12 at 19:19
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    It doesn't look like vote fraud is the intent here, so I'm not terribly worried about that aspect. – Adam Lear ModStaff Sep 18 '12 at 19:24
  • Accepting this, because although most of the q&a's on the account are weak at best, they do seem to have fair intentions. It also fits in with the goal of SO as I understand it : blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/05/encyclopedia-stack-exchange – PaulG Sep 18 '12 at 19:35
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    More questions and answers mean more ad displays. Of course SE, Inc. isn't going to get in the way of that. – John Sep 18 '12 at 21:36
  • @John Though that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. – Bart Sep 18 '12 at 21:53
  • @Bart It was a discussion question. There is no issue at hand except to discuss it, which I did? – John Sep 18 '12 at 21:55

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