On my way to familiarize myself with flagging I sometimes have to risk a decline to explore the limits.
On that occasion, I stumbled over a border where I would like to ask for clarification.
We use the spam flag, among other things, for excessive advertising (I know that strictly speaking, this is not entirely correct).
My question does not refer to "spam" from known spammers, (eg. from The Master Spam List provided by bwDraco) without disclosure, links insidiously hidden in text or punctuation marks or spam in the real sense, so not referring to the question.

It's more related to Limits for self-promotion in answers with the answer in excerpts:

May I promote products I am affiliated with here?

The community generally frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam, so be careful. Post good, relevant answers, and if they happen to be about your product, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation with the product in your answers. Also, if a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product, you're clearly here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free vote-based advertising for open source projects.

which differs from:

How to not be a spammer
The community here tends to vote down overt self-promotion and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

Disclose your affiliation therefore seems to be a protective shield that could also be used by known spammers too (while I have to admit that I'd have expected this implicit if someone is spamming.)

Following the last one, my question is:

Would it be enough for known spam
(of that sort spamming the whole web, which usually gets immediately nuked, including the user, even if targeting the question and including some text as answer, so maybe relevant)
, to including a disclosure and having answered one question without promotional content, to be able to answer many questions mentioning the product or linking to the product?

If yes, what protects stack exchange from being flooded with those, even competing on a single question?

If not, what distinguishes a "known spammer" from an (I call it) unknown spammer, with e.g. 10 answers on stack exchange sites with only one answer not promoting his product?

  • 12
    Closing as off-topic > Migrate to Cooking.SE ...
    – rene
    Nov 5, 2017 at 10:27
  • 2
    I need to think a bit more about this but my initial response would be that the added value beyond the (spam or ham) link should make the difference. Bad spammers don't care about the question.
    – rene
    Nov 5, 2017 at 10:31
  • Thanks rene for showing that we do not hate fun. The added value is often given by know spam too, e.g. 10 steps to rescue as disk with a link at the and leading to a known "bad product".
    – bummi
    Nov 5, 2017 at 10:34
  • @rene that's one Seasoned Advice. (Try to make a worse pun)
    – M.A.R.
    Nov 5, 2017 at 11:11
  • 1
    bummi I also have this from when I was no different than a spam-flagging bot. See if it helps.
    – M.A.R.
    Nov 5, 2017 at 11:12
  • @M.A.R., thank you, much stuff to think about for me.
    – bummi
    Nov 5, 2017 at 11:28

1 Answer 1


I think a lot of it comes down to, well, your discretion. I joke about using the sniff test in many cases. Spam smells, spammy, and outside efforts like smokey to automate it, it really comes down to whether it looks/smells like spam.

As far as disclosure goes, the term I use is "disclosure is necessary, but not sufficient". You can disclose, but that kind of is one of many things that differentiates spam from ham

I personally think a good answer recommending your own product should be tailored to the specific question. Your only goal shouldn't be to promote your own product.

Using the site to do support is a bit of a grey area. If all your posts are about one product, you're clearly the developer and the questions are initiated by real people, the most you'd likely not to get bothered so much, even if most of your answers are about your product.

So, if the answer's basically clearly written by a human being who has read the question, its more likely to be ok.

Amusingly, this doesn't typically provide the sort of ROI spammers want. If spammers somehow manage to post xkcd 810 compliant answers, I might actually be amused, and be inclined to go "eh, they took the effort to post a proper answer". If spam bots can be trained to post automated constructive, to the point answers... well, I might need to hang up my posting hat ;).

At the end of the day, the quality, distinctiveness and relevance of the post should be more important than the products used. There's a few vendors of disk maintenance products specifically who do good software and ruin all that goodwill by spamming.

If yes, what protects stack exchange from being flooded with those, even competing on a single question?

Us lot. If it looks spammy, flag and someone will take a sniff ;). Its worked well so far IMO. We might miss a few but our sites are hardly drearly wastelands with spammers sauntering around like they own the place.

  • I see, I've to change my point of view ... what makes me still wonder, if one of those known real evil ones would change their campaign to answering with disclosure, not automated, providing one useful non commercial answer, would we have to assume the main interest in promoting their product would have changed?
    – bummi
    Nov 5, 2017 at 11:35
  • 1
    I would generally disagree that support is a gray area. (I mostly have SO in mind here; I might be wrong w/r/t other sites.) If people are asking legitimate, on-topic questions about a product, and the makers want to answer those in a way that's useful to other people (i.e., not "please email support"/"read [link] thread on our closed forum for this"), that's gold. There's no advertisement per se when the product is brought up by a third party as the subject of a question.
    – jscs
    Nov 5, 2017 at 15:16
  • Oh, that's precisely why its a grey area. Its even nicer when people are both contributing to answers outside their software and doing useful, properlike support. We're ok with people answering stuff on software they have written on SU too Nov 5, 2017 at 15:29
  • So you mean that it's a gray area because it has the potential to produce both really good and really bad answers? I think that means any topic is a gray area...
    – jscs
    Nov 5, 2017 at 16:28
  • 1
    Well, there's really 3 different points of interest here. The dev who uses the site normally + does support (the best sort!) the dev who just does support (which is fine!) and the dev who's there to promote his baby (which is less fine) Nov 6, 2017 at 12:38

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