21

I've just read this question (now deleted). What is the policy on putting affiliate tags into Amazon links on Stack Overflow? What about other affiliate links?

4 Answers 4

29

Personally, I would flag any affiliate links as spam.

Appropriate on your blog, but not on a public forum, IMO.

12
  • Unfortunately, even thought the question is closed, the affiliate links remain. Is it appropriate to edit these out (or replace them with yours Jeff)?
    – David M
    Jul 6, 2009 at 11:49
  • I'd just remove the links altogether and put the explanation in the edit reasons.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 6, 2009 at 12:39
  • So imagine a link thats a useful answer to the question, but just happens to be an affiliate link. (Even better, one that has a clear disclosure.) Is that so bad it should be flagged as spam?
    – billpg
    Jul 22, 2009 at 12:38
  • yes, it should be flagged as spam -- we don't allow users to directly advertise their businesses here (other than ambient links in their user profile) so why would we allow it here? Jul 23, 2009 at 0:24
  • 4
    @Jeff I disagree with you, but this isn't my website. :)
    – billpg
    Jul 23, 2009 at 11:30
  • 4
    I think markdown should automatically add a StackOverflow affiliate link. More revenue, less ads!
    – Benjol
    Jan 13, 2010 at 13:15
  • 2
    What about instances where both the poster and the person who follows the link get some non-monetary benefit? A little extra storage in Dropbox, for instance?
    – ale
    Jan 7, 2011 at 18:30
  • 3
    What about instances where the poster gets some non-monetary benefit such as a badge on Stack Exchange? Aug 7, 2012 at 9:47
  • @JeffAtwood What if the link doesn't point directly to a website but use as a sample code? Like if I copied that from my own code as ref. Is that appropriate to be banned for that?
    – Idan
    Feb 9, 2014 at 17:00
  • Can you elaborate a bit more on this "decision" Jeff? What do you think is the problem with people posting affiliate links?
    – jorijnsmit
    Dec 12, 2014 at 23:49
  • So should I mark as spam every post that contains a link to Amazon, since Stack Exchange add their affiliate links? May 2, 2016 at 14:13
  • What is the principal here? Just stating something is different from arguing/justifying it. As currently framed, it at best seems to be arbitrary and capacious, at worst it seems to be SE wants to make sure they can add their affiliate links to other people's content (which is seems like they do). That seems particularly hypercritical - especially when the policy does not seem to be disclosed.
    – bigjosh
    Oct 2, 2018 at 16:40
15

I think that flagging any affiliate link as spam is overly harsh. Posts should be edited to remove the affiliate indication in compliance with the policy. Put a link to this thread in the edit summary and leave a comment on one post so that the user is notified through their inbox.

Harsher measures should only be taken if a user keeps including affiliate links after having been pointed to the policy. If a user remains deaf to comments or rolls the affiliate link back in, flag one of their posts for moderator attention and explain the situation.

Note that amazon.com links are automatically converted to use Stack Exchange's affiliate code.

8

Depends on what is going on. If you are answering a question concerning books or products and you are giving examples of really good books, I would more or less look past it (because if they are the one giving me the product for the first time and I like it, I wouldn't mind giving them some kickback for the review).

If they are asking a question or something and it is more blatantly spam trying to sell products without any real value behind it (or if that review or link is not a good idea on that particular question/answer) then I will be like ChrisF and flag it as spam.

4
  • Actually David M did the flagging, I said I would be tempted but hadn't got round to it in this case.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 6, 2009 at 11:33
  • I was referring to you "I'd be tempted to flag it as spam". I admit I didn't really read your answer thoroughly (it's still early!).
    – TheTXI
    Jul 6, 2009 at 11:36
  • I did flag it, and to be honest had the poster not included the throwaway "here's another book with an affiliate link in it" at the end of his/her question I might have let it go!
    – David M
    Jul 6, 2009 at 11:49
  • As I mention in my updated answer it was the second link that clinched it for me too.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 6, 2009 at 12:38
8

I would say that if the affiliate links are not affecting the answer in any way, to leave them in. If a person gives a great answer that happens to include a few affiliate links, so long as those links are completely relevant, then there is no harm in it. Especially if Stack Exchange doesn't have a link of their own to the question.

My example would be this answer. The same quality of answer is there with or without the affiliate links, but the affiliate links give the poster of the answer a chance to make a small amount of money that would otherwise be lost (Actually, the various service providers would essentially make that money, giving them completely free advertisement).

However, if a person is showing an obvious bias, or self-promoting products, then they should be removed completely and quickly.

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