I'm the author of a new open-source tool which disrupts the previous best answer to several StackOverflow questions (specifically, the author of The BFG, a faster & simpler alternative to the well-known git-filter-branch tool). There are a lot of highly-voted accepted answers out there which point to the old tool, and I want to raise awareness of my newer alternative.

Is it acceptable (and hey, even effective in terms of raising-awareness) to ask a question on SO of the form "how-do-you-do-such-and-such-a-thing?", detailing a task which happens (though that would not be stated) to be much easier with the new tool than the old, and setting a bounty on it as a way to get people to learn about the problem, and thus the new tool? It seems this would result in a 7-day period 'raising awareness'/'advertising'.

The intention absolutely would be to award the bounty to the best answer, regardless of which user wrote it - I just want to raise awareness - and I might learn something too, which would be great and allow me to improve my tool.

  • "draw attention" is one of the options, though that's usually draw attention to the question not one of it's answers
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 16 '13 at 13:51
  • 7
    If your intention is to write an advertisement, I would suggest not to do it.
    – asheeshr
    Apr 16 '13 at 13:51
  • @AshRj the question itself would not literally be an advertisement - it would be a technical question, asking how a task might be accomplished (and open to being answered by any choice of technology). It's reasonable to say it might function in a similar way to an advertisement though (in that it raises awareness), and that connotation is what gives me pause and prompts me to ask this question on meta. Apr 16 '13 at 13:55
  • The problem is with your answer to the question being an advertisement, not the question itself.
    – asheeshr
    Apr 16 '13 at 13:56
  • @RobertoTyley: I suggest you rethink this approach. If you have a good question and your tools answers it, everything is fine. If you have a tool and you now want to ask a question to promote it...you're in for a fun ride with "The League of Spam Hunters". Apr 16 '13 at 13:56
  • @AshRj ah, thanks for explaining that. It seems that if I was to not answer the question myself, I would avoid the risk of writing something that could be construed as an advert? Apr 16 '13 at 14:02
  • You could answer it yourself, with a big disclaimer and without making it sound like a product advertisement "This does A, B and C. Go get it now!"
    – asheeshr
    Apr 16 '13 at 14:04
  • @sulfurized-demonbobby I think that I'm able to come up with a good question (ie an objectively useful one, which other users might face) to which my tool is a good answer, so that would be 'ok', I think. On the other hand, the "The League of Spam Hunters" sounds terrifying, and I don't want to engender their wrath. Is "The League of Spam Hunters" a real thing? Do they have a badge? Apr 16 '13 at 14:08
  • @RobertoTyley: Nope, but I like to call it that way. Back in 2010/2011 I started cleaning SU and SO from Spam with big success, after I was done other people picked that up and started actively looking for spam with more sophisticated methods then I ever had imagined. Since then I found roughly 3 spammers in two years on SU. Also the communities as a whole have come a long way when it comes to identifying spammers and stopping them in their first steps. Apr 16 '13 at 14:28
  • @Roberto - It's not exactly a group of superheroes acting in union, but if some user suddenly answers, say, 10 old questions recommending the same product for all problems, it will be noticed.
    – Bo Persson
    Apr 16 '13 at 14:28
  • @RobertoTyley: I'd not be surprised if you find them at your heels after posting only three or four answers linking against your tool. And by "at your heels" I mean, throwing you to death with spam-flags. Apr 16 '13 at 14:29
  • @RobertoTyley: Also, an interesting entrance into the discussions about self-promotion is provided by the FAQ entry. Apr 16 '13 at 14:31

As long as it's a useful and unique question, and the answer is applicable then this would be fine. You just have to write it carefully to not give the spam impression.

It might be better to put out answers to those old questions you mentioned, though you have to be just as careful with those answers (and not bombard the site with a bunch of them at once).

If your solution is a good answer to people's problems then it should be shown, so that others can have a better solution.


No. You'll save yourself heartbreak in the long run. Most of these questions are going to be "Not Constructive" shopping questions. We regularly close those down. Users seeing those questions pop up because you answer them will flag you as spam. Seen it thousands of times over the years.

Therefore the only legit questions where you could provide your solution are asking for help with their code. However, answering, "hey, chuck out your code and use my project!" isn't an a direct answer to the question. While this is sometimes advantageous (e.g., "why don't you just use the visitor pattern, you dope?"), using it as an excuse to advertise your project is risky. Smells like spam. Users flag spam. Spam gets deleted, along with 100 rep.

I'd suggest you only use comments to suggest your project. You provide help to those who might benefit, and users are much less likely to flag comments as spam.

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