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Someone has a post up on SO right now advertising a "Microwave Dinner Set" (screenshot for people with less than 10k reputation on SO).

I flagged it as spam, but reconsidered the flag, since the description of the flag says "does not disclose the author's affiliation".

Technically, they do disclose that by saying "us", which makes it clear that they are part of the "company".

How should this actually be dealt with? It's blatantly off topic, so I could close vote it for that reason, but I seem to recall having done that before and getting a "just flag as spam" comment.

(I posted this here because I figure that this is a site agnostic question.)

3 Answers 3

29

Just flag it.

If it’s off topic and spam, it needs to go away, even with full disclosure. Disclosure is necessary but not sufficient.

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    Perhaps the description should changed (seperate feature request?)? It's a tad misleading. Mar 14, 2018 at 11:31
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    I've always thought the the comma there was an 'or' myself. Mar 14, 2018 at 12:34
  • Mm. As I mentioned in my follow up, I read it as and. I'm not sure what's supposed to be implied. Maybe this would be a question for the English site. Mar 14, 2018 at 12:36
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    Simply adding "or" to the message would certainly make it clearer. But considering the speed at which changes are implemented in Stack Exchange, I'd rather the devs spend their time on other issues... Mar 14, 2018 at 12:57
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    and spam's spam. If it looks, smells and sounds like processed meat product... Mar 14, 2018 at 12:57
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    Another way to make this point is that for total junk like this the affiliation part is completely irrelevant, and therefore disclosure doesn't even enter into it.
    – jscs
    Mar 14, 2018 at 14:33
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Note that excessive and/or inappropriate promotion is also spam. Those blatant spam do not need to "have no disclosure".

Spam is spam, it does not turn into "not spam" just because it has disclosure.

You surely are not going to argue "this is not spam because it has disclosure", right?

Get xxx enhancement pill from yyy web store. Disclosure: I am the owner of the store but the pill is really good. Contact 1234567890...


I'm not sure when it was added to the flag description, but it's meant for self promotions, e.g. a tagline of "For details, visit this blog" under a good answer, where a disclosure is definitely better than flagging the whole answer as spam.

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    Of course it's still spam. I'm wondering about the second part of the flag description. Why mention disclosure at all if it doesn't seem to be relevent to the flag anyway? Mar 14, 2018 at 11:33
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    @Carcigenicate: Because sometimes spammers are cleverer, and write seemingly-relevant answers which link to their own properties. That's still spam, but it's less problematic if it's disclosed because then the community can vote on it in an informed fashion.
    – Kevin
    Feb 3, 2021 at 17:56
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    @Carcigenicate the way I see it, it's meant for legit users who post links to their blogs. They still have to mention it's theirs. Sometimes the line between legit user and spammer is thin, but the line is there. Feb 3, 2021 at 18:18
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jscs's comment that "Another way to make this point is that for total junk like this the affiliation part is completely irrelevant, and therefore disclosure doesn't even enter into it." is spot-on here when you consider what it actually means to disclose.

Consider the following post as an answer requesting suggestions on a software library:

Bes,t mal3 enl5rgement C5nadi5n ph5rmac:y ch333p |/14gr4; Ord3r today free shipppping best e.n.l.a.r.g.3.

What would constitute disclosure for the above post? I think it is obvious that adding a "disclosure" such as "I am affiliated with this ph5rmac:y" adds no additional information to the post that wasn't already obvious. No reasonable poster would post an advertisement like this if they were not affiliated with the vendor, so the very fact of posting is itself testimony to the poster's affiliation. Requiring that such unsolicited advertisements disclose affiliation has no practical meaning and is therefore inapplicable.

Noe consider an answer like:

I recommend the QuantumRPS library. It has all the applicable gizmos and also supports Web 2.0 throughput across socketspace and integration with COBOL 15 service jobs at Level 3.

Is the poster of the above answer affiliated? Maybe they are, maybe they aren't. Here is where disclosure matters, and why we require it for potentially plausible answers.

So, if a post can plausibly function as an otherwise on-topic and acceptable post, it requires affiliation disclosure if the poster is affiliated with a product or service promoted in the post. If a post is literally nothing more than an unsolicited ad, it's spam regardless of how many "disclosures" or "disclaimers" it has.

In other words, lack of disclosure is only a required element of spam if adding disclosure would change the character of the post and make it acceptable. If no amount of disclosure or additional disclosure will make the post suitable, it's already spam.

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