I have posted answers - In my opinion generally pretty simple ones for those 'in the know' - but due to my areas of interest they attract people who frequently are not 'in the know'.

Of course, I am talking about VBA. If there were any language and, importantly, business application of a language that attracts the most non-programmers then this must be it.

From time to time, someone asks if I could help further for a consideration.

Skip If TL:DR Fluff: I have occasionally been asked whether I could help with the 'implementation' of my answer or help with further issues, even for a consideration. I have always said no transparently in the comments because

  1. I have a full-time job,
  2. My time programming and problem-solving other's issues is actually for fun (I am a non-programming related financial consultant so Stack Overflow is my equivalent to doing the Sudoku), and
  3. I assume that - given my non-full time interest in programming - someone else can do a lot better.

What is Stack Overflow's policy on 'converting' charitable help into another relationship?

I have read Q&A that relates to self-promotion, particularly of self-developed products, but have not seen a discussion relating to 'unintentional' follow-up for a consideration. I am interested as to a) whether there is any official stance to 'commercialism' of help and b) the community's thoughts as to an answer resulting in anything other than a digitial cookie.

  • @hjpotter92 thank you for the formatting :) – Cor_Blimey Apr 4 '14 at 20:56
  • I'm answering the wrong questions, because I've got 3 times your SO rep (most in the area of VBA) and I've never once been asked that. – Johnny Bones Apr 4 '14 at 20:57
  • @JohnnyBones i confess parts of my answers often don't relate to the question but instead relate to how I imagine they are to be implemented. As such they are waffly and rambling answers - and so, I agree, arguably bad - but they seem to help with what could be question 2.0 – Cor_Blimey Apr 4 '14 at 21:00

If it comes up organically, it's likely OK.

For example, if someone wants you to expand on your answer, you can politely decline, but mention that you offer paid consulting services. Any further communication should then take place off-site.

You are free to put information about your commercial services in your profile.

Avoid mentioning it in your actual answers, though - that way lies trouble.

  • "For example, if someone wants you to expand on your answer, you can politely decline" Seriously?!? What's the point of SO then? – Johnny Bones Apr 4 '14 at 20:59
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    @JohnnyBones Where does Stack Overflow (or sister sites) state that you're forced to answer? – hjpotter92 Apr 4 '14 at 21:00
  • Funny, I thought we all did this because we enjoy helping others. From now on I'll just give half-answers and make the people pay me for the rest! That should put SO on the map right-quick as the place to go for all your programming questions! – Johnny Bones Apr 4 '14 at 21:02
  • @JohnnyBones I agree with your first comment. I have occassionally edited an answer that was posted a while ago in order to follow up on unanswered comments to the original answer. (I realise you do not and were posting rhetorically but :P) Do not despair as I have yet to be shouted at by the original poster for elaborating on their suggestion (after all, they get the +rep so no harm -> no foul). – Cor_Blimey Apr 4 '14 at 21:06
  • @Cor_Blimey - Far be it from me to tell people how to run their lives, I was just a little dismayed that anyone would even suggest that. Lord knows I could go fishing for work and have been in enough side chats that I could have made some dough, but I always thought that was counter to what this site was about. If it works for you and people don't mind, then go for it. Personally, I'd rather have the Karma Cookies and go to bed knowing I helped a n00b. Because I was a n00b once, too. :o) – Johnny Bones Apr 4 '14 at 21:12
  • @JohnnyBones haha, I think that comment is particularly true and astute for VBA (where I started as well of course) :) – Cor_Blimey Apr 4 '14 at 21:14
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    @JohnnyBones there's a limit to the extent of help that is polite to ask for in a SO question. It's nice to help your fellow users beyond the call of duty (and I've done it many times), but nobody is obligated to sit through hour-long debug sessions (which also usually don't benefit anyone beyond the asker). – Pekka Apr 4 '14 at 21:18
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    @JohnnyBones - What Pëkka was trying to say is that if you've left a complete answer, but the asker keeps badgering you for more information, you're under no obligation to spend all your time walking them through your solution. You don't have to tutor them or do their job for them in the comments here. That's also most likely not a good fit for how SE is set up, short of maybe the chat rooms. If they offer to pay you offline to do the rest of their work for them, there's nothing wrong with you taking them up on that. – Brad Larson Apr 4 '14 at 21:19
  • @BradLarson We can all relate to that situation I am sure. And I suppose that is also an answer. One is 'allowed' to post as a comment that one would be happy to follow up elsewhere. I suppose part of my question could be viewed to stem from the lack of a 'personal message' feature, aside from a private chatroom (which I have never really investigated so maybe that would be solution). – Cor_Blimey Apr 4 '14 at 21:24
  • @BradLarson: My first perusal of Pekka's post didn't lead to that conclusion; I had to read it twice before I realized that was the intent intended. It could probably be re-stated somewhat. "Feel free to put your contact info in your profile, and when asked if you're available for additional help on a contracted basis, refer them to your profile to contact you off-site to discuss it.", perhaps. – Ken White Apr 4 '14 at 23:08

If someone is actively asking you, and you are at all interested, I would just efficiently move the discussion elsewhere. That's perfectly fine, though I would be extremely leery of working with someone who would hire someone in that situation.

As long as you aren't here to actively seek that sort of thing, it won't be a problem.

As for how to do it; if one of you has contact information on your profile, that works. A quick link to a social profile, perhaps. Doing a quick chat and posting contact info there (but be aware that it can still be visible to others).

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