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Playing with the new SE app, I came across an old meta answer of mine, and getting curious I looked at the guy's latest answers. Of the 30 latest answers on his SO page (as of now all from the last three weeks), one third of the answers either mention his business' products or link to them or link to answers doing this or show code for such a tool – or any combination of these.

Note that we have haggling been over this with him again and again. And again.

While I only checked his latest answers (I'm on mobile right now), if this is what he's been doing in the last year, it is a noticeable step-down from the extend he used to spam us with and the posts that I saw, are certainly more relevant than they used to be. Still, if he hadn't been even worse than this, I would not have hesitated at all to ring the bell on the current state of affairs. But even though I now do now hesitate (it's not as bad as it used to be, is it?), I post this anyway, because, as casparOne said:

I'd consider the bar lowered for tolerance on this kind of behavior

Please also note that I as well as others remember this guy pretty well from Usenet, where he was doing just that in the 90s.

Well, what do you folks say? Is this now toned down enough? Can you live with it? Am I just being paranoid?


P.S.: To save you the trouble of clicking through all these answers:

Note that I wouldn't object to many of these individually. It's the amount (11 out of 30) that I object against.

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  • 9
    Am I allowed to remove all the bold formatting? It's seriously distracting. Jan 31, 2014 at 9:08
  • 3
    @TimeTravelingBobby go ahead, "OUR TOOLS CAN DO THIS"` lol
    – user221081
    Jan 31, 2014 at 9:10
  • 1
    I've noticed this before (spotted a suspect answer on a high traffic question I reached from google - turned out he had 100 answers at 100 rep), flagged for moderator attention with a message about it and they deleted about 50 of them
    – OGHaza
    Jan 31, 2014 at 9:10
  • @Time Shrug. I happen to like it, but since there's already five of you, go ahead.
    – sbi
    Jan 31, 2014 at 9:11
  • Thanks. I can understand what you mean, but the links already stand out on their own and it was nearly a whole paragraph in bold with some normal words in between, it felt more distractive then highlighting. Jan 31, 2014 at 9:15
  • 5
    Is it just me or should most of these questions be closed and deleted anyway? Looks like the user is answering mostly off-topic questions. I'd suggest to do a cleanup based on the profile of the user, close and delete inappropriate questions, do not downvote or delete the users answers, and when we're done with that, we'll see what is still there and if it needs to be handled. Jan 31, 2014 at 9:19
  • What happened to round 3? I don't remember that.
    – DeadMG
    Jan 31, 2014 at 10:52
  • @DeadMG: Why don't you just follow the link and find out?
    – sbi
    Jan 31, 2014 at 11:09
  • 1
    I'm just noting that we've seen this - and we're deferring to the Stack Overflow moderators.
    – user50049
    Jan 31, 2014 at 13:45
  • 1
    Note, I'm raising this with some of the other SO moderators now.
    – casperOne
    Jan 31, 2014 at 14:08
  • 1
    Note, only some. Jan 31, 2014 at 14:28
  • 2
    Just a roundabout way of saying I'm lazy to deal with this particular user's contributions :P Jan 31, 2014 at 14:37
  • 3
    @sbi we like consensus. We're not a pack of monkeys, we're a tribe of monkeys. With guns in there hands. Jan 31, 2014 at 15:22
  • 4
    Guns in there hands. There.
    – user50049
    Jan 31, 2014 at 16:46
  • 6
    Oh no not this again
    – Pekka
    Jan 31, 2014 at 20:02

2 Answers 2

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The kind of answers that I summarily delete all the time are the ones that say "This may help you [link to product website or blog]", or "Our product will help you do this," without so much as providing a code sample or convincing reason why.

For the most part, Ira doesn't do that. A cursory look at Ira's answer history seems to demonstrate that the community finds his answers valuable enough to upvote and (in a significant percentage of cases) accept as the correct answer.

For Ira's part, he has stated that he only wishes to contribute to the community in ways that exercise his expertise, which apparently mostly encompasses the products that he is affiliated with. This is really no different than any of the rest of us who provide expertise in the things that we are familiar with, except that most of us are not quite as "productized" as Ira is.

For our part (the mods), we have had numerous conversations about this with Ira, and he's always made efforts to comply with our guidelines. The only remaining objection seems to be the quantity of posts that reference the products he is affiliated with. I would say three things about that:

  1. The time to catch overly promotional account holders is early, when we still have the chance to summarily destroy their accounts.

  2. It doesn't seem fair to Ira to tell him "if you're going to post promotional answers, this is the correct way to do it," and then come back later and tell him he can't do it.

  3. Time Traveling Bobby is right; close the questions that are asking for recommendations, since that will limit the footprint for those folks looking to post their recommendations.

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  • "It doesn't seem fair to Ira to tell him 'if you're going to post promotional answers, this is the correct way to do it,' and then come back later and tell him he can't do it.". Why not? We're not allowed to revise our opinion/change our mind?
    – DeadMG
    Jan 31, 2014 at 20:53
  • @DeagMG: See points 1 and 3, above.
    – user102937
    Jan 31, 2014 at 21:21
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    Also worth noting: the volume of answers is irrelevant, as long as the answers are helpful.
    – user206222
    Feb 1, 2014 at 17:52
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    Well, guys, this is why I asked here, whether this is Ok. Now I know that the majority considers this acceptable. Thanks.
    – sbi
    Feb 7, 2014 at 1:33
  • Typo?: "most of us" and not "most of use"?
    – user163250
    Aug 10, 2014 at 18:44
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As a past critic of Ira, I have to defend him on this one.

My problems with him in the past were that he didn't used to clearly state his association with his products. He's being pretty clear now, and these answers are nothing like: "here's my product, go buy it".

I still have a minor issue, but maybe I'm imagining it. He'll sometimes just say, "Our product", or something to that effect. I've had a concern that this might not make it clear enough to readers whose first language isn't English. I've just realized that I do not know this to be the case, and since my first language is English, I'm not really in a position to say whether it's a problem or not.

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