We have officially discontinued the Amazon book affiliate remnant ads, since despite our best efforts they don't perform well for our audience and cannot be made to perform well.

We've often wondered, Would it be a problem if all Amazon links were converted to affiliate links?

I'm thinking this isn't a problem; it has gotten lots of support historically. So we're going to go ahead and do it, so the company Amazon account is still getting some use, and we benefit a little.

To be clear: from this point on, all Amazon links posted on all sites will automatically be rewritten to add our affiliate link. We have a clever affiliate redirect that geolocates the IP address and redirects to the appropriate regional Amazon store (amazon.uk, amazon.ca, et cetera).

If you have any feedback on this, or suggestions, as they say … speak now or forever hold your peace!

  • 16
    great to see this is working (blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/11/…). what happens if I put my own affiliate link in - will you strip it out? and how much have you made from Tony The Pony so far : amazon.com/dp/1933988363 ?
    – Simon
    Commented Nov 5, 2009 at 22:47
  • 4
    At 2009 it made a lot of sense but does it still do so much now, since SE is already officially running ads all over the place? I never felt it was fair that SE gets to the keep all the profit, while the person who actually used his time to provide the answer and reference gets nothing instead. Of course I get that the current ads might still be in an exploratory stage, but this link swapping just feels a bit weird now that SE is having commercial operations running already, though maybe in other forums they do co-exist sometimes?
    – xji
    Commented Aug 26, 2016 at 16:35
  • 6
    The part that feels bad to me about this is that it happens without anyone [read: author and reader/clicker] realizing it's happening. I suppose it's not too big of an objection and I don't really know how to fix it. Still, it feels a bit off.
    – Jasper
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 17:41
  • 5
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the link rewriting program has now been disabled. Commented Oct 7, 2019 at 17:16
  • @xji while the person who actually used his time to provide the answer and reference gets nothing instead – what do you mean nothing, the person gets IntERnEt POiNtS Commented Nov 13, 2023 at 6:59

11 Answers 11


I just think this should be in the faq somehow. This kind of behavior should be transparent to new users in my opinion - if you don't agree, don't post. I think users have the right to know what you're planning to do with their data - or a jQuery box saying "this link is going to be SOfied. Click here for more information".

Actually, I do believe some other information about the system should be in the faq and not "dispersed" here in meta. Is there any plan to complement the faq?

  • 2
    I think I agree that this particular piece of information should be in the FAQ, I don't necessarily agree with putting everything in there. What you don't want is pages and pages of FAQs that nobody reads and therefore everybody ignores the "rules". Have the important stuff there with links out to specific questions here on meta or a search for posts tagged faq
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Nov 6, 2009 at 21:58
  • 2
    I didn't said to put everything in faq... Your solution to put various links for example in the faq with some important information linked here in meta is a good one in my opinion. I just think all information related to content/copyright and user's content usage by SO should be in the faq. I was concerned about this in this topic too: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/24611/….
    – GmonC
    Commented Nov 7, 2009 at 3:13

I don't have an affiliate account anywhere, but I wonder: do you also replace affiliate accounts if someone includes their own? Would that be ethical?

  • 4
    Yeah, I was wondering about that also. Many "Can you recommend a book" questions I would think get answered with affiliate links. I think it would be appropriate to maintain the poster's affiliate link, since it is their referral and all.
    – squillman
    Commented Oct 22, 2009 at 20:59
  • 34
    we don't allow affiliate accounts, any more than we allow people to post overtly commercial links to their own stuff. In your own profile, you are free to do that of course. Commented Oct 22, 2009 at 21:00
  • 3
    Or does the whole "it's their referral" thing become null and void with the cc-wiki license?
    – squillman
    Commented Oct 22, 2009 at 21:02
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    @JeffAtwood I tried including an affiliate link in my profile, and it got replaced by one to the Amazon account when I clicked on it. Has this policy changed to not allow personal affiliate links in profiles?
    – tcrosley
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 5:33
  • 1
    @JeffAtwood Let me get this straight. You "don't allow" affiliate links, but you plan to inject your own affiliate link into every Amazon link on the site? Don't you think that's horribly hypocritical of you? Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 18:45
  • 1
    @sodalmighty Meh. Their site, their rules. Commented Sep 21, 2019 at 20:44

I think that's a great idea. I'm glad you're implementing it.

I make a habit (though this will sound like Hero-worship) of buying books that you tell me about through your blog affiliate link. I also do this with any site that tells me about a book I later buy.

I think the same thing should happen for Stack Overflow. It's a business model that is both sensible and compatible with the nature of the Internet.


So it's OK for people to post helpful links that also make you money but not themselves? That doesn't seem fair. Why not only replace affiliate links a percentage of the time? That way everyone gets rewarded.

  • 5
    you can post whatever affiliate links you like in your user profile page. This has never been allowed in questions and answers. Commented Nov 6, 2009 at 16:52
  • 12
    @JeffAtwood I know you're inactive and this was 10 years ago, but that doesn't address the point; this 'feature' is still making money for the company off of user contributions (that in and of itself is ethically wrong), by doing something that you don't allow users to do (doubly ethically wrong), and not even telling them when you do it (triply wrong).
    – TylerH
    Commented Dec 5, 2018 at 17:39

Could you please announce this on the Stack Overflow site? I'm getting downvoted by people who don't know that this is now in place and think that I'm trying to point people myself. Yep, I know, they should just look at the redirected URL.



I think this is a fantastic idea.

I would love, love, love to see the affiliate-link conversion migrated over to the Stack Exchange platform. Can you make sure that your affiliate ID is in an easily configurable location so, hopefully, the Stack Exchange folks can integrate that functionality into their release?

I would like to request this feature over at Stack Exchange.

Thank you.

  • yes! very much so :) ..I use my affiliate links on my sites - but don't share them elsewhere (unless they don't "earn" me anything (like the old getfirefox campaign)
    – warren
    Commented Oct 23, 2009 at 3:06
  • It might be worthwhile to even support using so's affiliate and give people a discount towards their hosting costs, if they don't want to use their own? Commented Nov 13, 2009 at 11:05

It works for me. Do you care about links to Amazon created from URL obfuscators (tinyurl, bit.ly, etc.)?

  • 7
    Obfuscated links are bad enough, without also being affiliate links...
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 22, 2009 at 21:16
  • 3
    Replace the obfuscated link with an SO affiliate link.
    – squillman
    Commented Oct 22, 2009 at 21:19
  • 5
    Ah, misunderstood what you were suggesting! Yeah, that'd be nice. As would simply replacing all obfuscated links with real ones.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 22, 2009 at 21:37
  • 1
    we're not doing anything with minified links at the moment Commented Oct 23, 2009 at 5:56
  • 15
    It might be worth considering outlawing URL obfuscators altogether (at least, the sites that we know about).
    – Ether
    Commented Oct 24, 2009 at 0:48

It seems comments aren't processed for Amazon links. Would it be too difficult to include them?


Should there be an easier "add book" function that would do the cover image and an amazon link?

Now that SE extends beyond programmer-programmer long tail technical questions recommending a book (eg in the English.se site) is going to be a lot more common AND you will ave more users who can't as easily work out how to make a clean amazon link or get a book cover image


It's your right to do that, but if you rewrite links in CC-BY-SA licensed content it would be better to indicate explicitly that there was a modification. Doing so is mandatory under CC-BY-SA 4.0 (but not 3.0, although recommended).

(Note that currently it is not clear which version of the license applies to SE content.)

  • 1
    Given that it seems that SE has made it clear that content posted after 2018 is CC-BY-SA 4.0, I think that you might want to post a question asking SE about their Amazon affiliate link policy.
    – nick012000
    Commented Aug 25, 2021 at 22:59

Test book link.

Cool, it works now! I was mostly curious which Amazon site it would send me to (based on geolocating my IP address). Answer: default http://amazon.com.

I already own the above trilogy, so I won't need to buy it again through the affiliate link, sorry Jeff. :)

  • does Amazon have a New Zealand site? Commented Oct 26, 2009 at 2:40
  • No, unfortunately they don't. Nor do they have an Australian site, for that matter. So amazon.com is fine. Commented Oct 26, 2009 at 21:21
  • That link takes me to Amazon.co.uk - which is correct :-)
    – Techboy
    Commented Nov 6, 2009 at 11:52
  • 1
    As someone living in Europe (latvia), I would prefer .co.uk site, not .com, as they do not ship most stuff to me.
    – Papuass
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 8:15
  • That link didn't work for me. I live in the UK and it directed me to .com Commented Mar 18, 2015 at 17:58
  • @JamesWebster: You should probably ask a new question to report that bug. Commented Aug 1, 2015 at 23:23
  • @JeffAtwood Just to ping you - Amazon now has an Australian site, but SE is still redirecting to .com (instead of .com.au) for Australian users
    – ert
    Commented Aug 21, 2015 at 4:10

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