We know that in answers (and by extension, questions), adding a relevant link is acceptable as long as any affiliation is disclosed, otherwise it counts as spam.

This is true even if the username of the author of the post has the same name as the person that wrote the contents of the link (with the following assumption that they're the same person):

the disclosure must happen in the post itself; the author’s username or profile do not count.

However, comments look slightly different to questions and answers - the username is directly next to the comment itself and so, very hard to miss (while it's entirely possible to read a question or answer without noticing the author). In addition, comments have a much more limited space and including a disclosure could use up that space (although writing a second comment is hardly the end of the world).

There are links to e.g. scientific papers and code where the author(s) is/are prominently displayed on the linked-to page and the above assumption about the comment-author and the linked-to-page author being the same person is a very natural one.

So, for such links in a comment, when it is clear from the comment-author's username that they also wrote the contents of/are affiliated with the linked-to page, do they still need to disclose that they are an author of/affiliated with the link?

  • 1
    Affiliations aside, how is it ever clear that a commentator wrote something that is linked to unless the comment text says, "I wrote the following"? And if that text is there, why would they ever use a name rather than just the more natural and shorter pronoun? (Or are you saying that an external document should be attributed to the user's actual name and not a username—assuming they are different?) – Jason Bassford Aug 9 at 2:28
  • @JasonBassford I'm thinking of examples where the username and the real name are the same - I'm not saying that any external document should be attributed to the real name but in the case when it is, what are the rules/guidelines? Sub-fields of research are small enough that it's much more likely that someone referred to their own thing than someone else's who happens to have the same name, so how important is the disclaimer where the user is an author in e.g. "there's a proof/that was done in section [x] of [this paper]", or "I think [this bit of code] does [the thing] you mentioned" etc. – Mithrandir24601 Aug 9 at 7:27
  • Honestly, I can't think of a situation where somebody would reference something they'd written externally and not attribute it to themself. But even if they didn't, so long as its source is given, I don't think it matters if the correlation is or isn't explicitly made. Do celebrities using anonymous accounts have to disclose that they're celebrities? – Jason Bassford Aug 9 at 12:54
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I don't think it's about proximity; it's about having the disclosure at the same "level" as the link. Further, people can change their display names, so that comment from Joe Shmoe linking a post by Joe Shmoe could later become a post from AnonCoder linking a post by Joe Shmoe. Not so obvious then, is it?

Comment length is limited, but it doesn't take much space to add it either. "See my blog post..." or "I wrote about this in..." or see ... (from my company)" all count.

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