How close does a user have to be to an open source project before they have to acknowledge their involvement or provide a disclaimer of their relationship with the product?

The FAQ entry on "Self-Promotion" mentions when a user is posting about a paid product they are directly involved with, but is that still true if the program or application is free or open source?

Do they still have to follow the guidelines and declare their interest? The immediate point I want to clarify is if they have to still include, in their answer, a disclosure of their status with the project, each and every time they post.

I came across a user who is listed as the owner of one project and a contributor to another. So far all their answers only mention one or the other of these projects. To me, those answers are OK as long as affiliation is declared.

I am concerned long term as to whether they intend to post other helpful answers, or if they're only going to post promotional posts. Right now the user does not even seem to acknowledge that these links should be considered as being part of their aegis.

Because the posts seemed at least vaguely useful, I did not flag them as spam, despite the lack of disclosure of ownership/authorship. Instead, I posted a variation of my standard pro-forma comment for these situations:

Welcome to Stack Overflow! Thanks for posting your answer! Please be sure to read the FAQ on Self-Promotion carefully. Also note that it is required that you post a disclaimer every time you link to your own site/product. I have added the disclosure here, but you still need to read the FAQ linked above.

You can see on this answer (10k+) that the user took exception to my calling it "his" project; I tried to explain that it does not matter if it is open source - disclosure must be made of ownership of the project and the project pages linked.

He has also edited out my disclosures, and used the following edit reason in two of them:

I do not permit editing of my words, or any violation of my rights under the First Amendment.

I posted a comment on one of them linking to the relevant FAQ entry, and let him know that all I had done was edit in the required disclosure.

Is it still required in circumstances such as what just happened here?

  • 3
    "I do not permit editing of my words" - kindly point him to cc-wiki logo down in footer. Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


Yes. If you are affiliated or involved with a project or product, you must declare the association.

That includes working on, bankrolling, angel investing, street teaming, owning or contributing to a project in any way beyond a customer or user with no finger in the pie.

Directly from the FAQ:

May I promote products or websites I am affiliated with here?

Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.


Doesn't matter if the project or app is free to the open wind. Cost is not the issue, transparency is.

That no money is being handed over doesn't mean a transaction isn't happening. Promotion is still promotion. However the pauper.

  • 7
    This basically sums it up, but I will add that for those open source projects that are looking for some advertising, we have the community promotion ads.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Nov 20, 2012 at 5:12

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