I noticed quite a number of posts where someone would advertise an alternative serialization library, since I more or less follow the tag.

Just now, I got another one: Packing struct in Boost Asio buffer, and decided to have a look.

To my surpise, this user https://stackoverflow.com/users/1639596/wood-brian has almost exclusively self-promoting answers.

  • The vast majority of his 39 answers mention and link to his library[1].
  • Most often, it starts out with a link, and
  • Not infrequently the answer has a tenuous link to the question, and sometimes, the answer doesn't contain anything more than just the link

I do realize this is at least in part a work of love. I do personally feel it's a bit too much, though, and it might have crossed the invisible line where it becomes abuse of StackOverflow for advertising purposes.

I don't know whether the guy has any commercial interest in spreading his library, but aside from that, the principle should be considered: when is spam spam, and when is it somehow acceptable? Or, when do we allow advertising, even though we prohibit it in general?

[1] In fact, it's easier to link the few answers that are not advertising his product:

Here's a collage of the 18 most recent answers in case they get clobbered/are inaccessible to <10k users.

Update November 10th 2014 added a chapter to this story. In a now-deleted meta.SO question (https://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/276430/a-stubborn-self-promotor-has-returned ) I exposed a list of newly added answers by the same poster. In the interest of historical reference, here is a screenshot of that question after @animuson handled it: https://i.stack.imgur.com/mB9y1.png

  • PS. I omit the site/product name here in the interest of not inadvertantly helping SEO. Just click any link to find it
    – sehe
    Apr 4, 2014 at 19:49
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    faq entry: meta.stackexchange.com/q/94022/147247 Apr 4, 2014 at 19:55
  • @KateGregory thanks for that. I do feel that's more on the topic of "shallow answers" than that of "advertising" (though it's obviously related, in that it concerns using SO to drive traffic to external resources)
    – sehe
    Apr 4, 2014 at 19:58
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    Added a collage of the 18 most recent answers in case they get clobbered/are inaccessible to <10k users: Imgur-ed collage http://i.imgur.com/JEeoBrC.png
    – sehe
    Apr 4, 2014 at 20:20
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    You fooled me! You claimed that link was a collage, but it's merely a scroll! :p Apr 4, 2014 at 20:36
  • 6
    I'm doing what the subject of your profile picture is right now :0 Apr 4, 2014 at 20:40
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    I've mod flagged a user for this before and something like 40 of their 100 answers were quickly disposed of.
    – OGHaza
    Apr 4, 2014 at 21:24
  • Looks like spam to me. I flagged one answer with a link to this post. But if this is allowed, more will follow. Apr 7, 2014 at 9:03
  • 2
    FYI: the same user also added several comments with a link to his site. Apr 7, 2014 at 9:09
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    There's no pricing on the linked site, but the registration is required and it seems the usage of the library is dependent on their servers. It's very untransparent and looks suspicious. Apr 7, 2014 at 9:27
  • @Łukasz웃Lツ I didn't think it was a licensed product. But it sure looks like at least the person is looking to create consultancy jobs off this for himself
    – sehe
    Apr 7, 2014 at 9:29
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    @sehe I haven't seen the info it's free, and if it is, why isn't it just available for download? Anyway, you don't post answers suggesting using of the whole product when OP wants one simple thing... Well, maybe with exception of jQuery, but jQuery is free and < 300kb :P Apr 7, 2014 at 9:36
  • @Łukasz웃Lツ Oh, maybe one would, but most often people already state they're using e.g. boost-serialization
    – sehe
    Apr 7, 2014 at 10:16
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    @ToonKrijthe Oh. What was the solution? I thought we were still defining the problem, even deciding whether it was one (discussion). I haven't noticed any authoritative response/clear consensus myself
    – sehe
    Apr 7, 2014 at 11:41
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    @ToonKrijthe I noticed, you already have my +1 for that
    – sehe
    Apr 7, 2014 at 11:52

2 Answers 2


While promoting your open source library on Stack Overflow is perfectly fine, I felt this user was a few steps over the self-promotion line.

  • The vast majority of posts were linking to their own work.
  • A lot of those posts contained little information other than the link.
  • There was no disclosure of their affiliation.
  • They really weren't helping the SO community in any other (non-promotional) way.

This all combined gives me the feeling that the user was here exclusively to promote their own work. I deleted their promotional posts and sent them a warning. If they can edit the more helpful posts (particularly the ones with code examples) to include a disclosure of affiliation, those posts could be undeleted.

  • 1
    Thanks for putting this reference point out there. Seems a reasonable course of action to me.
    – sehe
    Apr 18, 2014 at 0:02

I think this is spam and it shouldn't be allowed.

I flagged one post with a link to this meta post, and as a result, 37 posts of the user are deleted, so I assume at least one mod thinks it is spam too and as such not acceptable.

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