Currently, the description of the spam flag reads as follows:

Exists only to promote a product or service, does not disclose the author's affiliation.

This wording is very confusing because it's unclear whether the post has to only exist "to promote a product or service" and "not disclose author's affiliation", or if only one of the two has to apply to use the flag. For instance, is it still spam if an answer very clearly "Exists only to promote a product or service" but does "disclose the author's affiliation"? The current description doesn't provide a clear answer to this.

I found a relatively old post talking about removing the second half of this description from the question flagging dialog, to which Shog9 mentioned that:

There should be an "or" there, but I feel like we had some reason for not putting one. Can't remember what that could've been though.

Shog9 Jan 15, 2016 at 16:35

So, to make this more clear, could we please reword the description to something closer to:

Exists only to promote a product or service or does not disclose the author's affiliation.

  • 5
    @RobertLongson And this is exactly why I think the description needs to be clarified. Everyone reads it differently. The comment I mentioned in the question was from Shog9, a former SE staff member, and they said it should be "or", which is why I went with that. It also doesn't make much sense to me for a post to not be spam just because someone says, "Buy this thing that I made," versus just "Buy this thing," which would be the case if it were an "and".
    – Jesse
    Commented Jan 4 at 21:21
  • 3
    Regardless of if it should be "and" or "or", the description should make it clear.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jan 4 at 21:25
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    @RobertLongson But in many cases even spam that reveals the affiliation should still be flagged as spam; the first clause is sufficient and doesn't need the second. The second comes in when a post has more purpose than just promoting a service but does not disclose that it's doing so (e.g., answers the question but recommends using the posters own product as the fix). Commented Jan 4 at 21:32
  • 2
    no??? the FAQ post on spam flagging says: "A post should be marked as spam only if it promotes a product, service, or similar; and is unsolicited or lacks disclosure of affiliation." the placement of the semicolon indicates that the OR operation's operands are solicited-ness and affiliation-disclosure- not affiliation disclosure and the rest. so yes, it should be made more clear, but the specific text you're proposing is contradictory to what is clearly stated in the FAQ.
    – starball
    Commented Jan 5 at 1:24
  • 1
    see meta.stackexchange.com/revisions/58035/84. the one thing I don't see in the FAQ post right now is mention of over-self-promotion, which is mentioned in /help/promotion. But there is meta.stackexchange.com/legal/acceptable-use-policy, which says: "Users that do not publish meaningful content, use deceptive means to generate revenue or traffic, or whose primary purpose is affiliate marketing, will be suspended."
    – starball
    Commented Jan 5 at 1:39
  • 1
    @starball There's a key difference between that description and the one in the flagging dialog. The flagging dialog mentions nothing about solicitation. In my experience, "unsolicited" and "Exists only to promote a product or service" go hand-in-hand. So, assuming that "unsolicited" is part of the first half of the flagging dialog's description (before the comma), then the comma would have to be an "or" in order for the two statements to be equivilant. However, I do see where you're coming from, and this point is debatable because the language is unclear.
    – Jesse
    Commented Jan 5 at 15:42
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    @starball I think we may be reading the same words differently; when I read that sentence in the FAQ, that first "unsolicited" condition reads as roughly the same as the start of the flag reason to me. In the context of promotion in a post on SE, I feel like "unsolicited" has the same meaning as "only exists as promotion", because the latter is always unsolicited here; i.e. if a promotion is in a post where it has zero relationship to the context at hand (e.g. in an answer where the thing being promo'd has no relevance), I feel like that is unsolicited promo.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Jan 5 at 16:23
  • 1
    @starball Reading further down the FAQ seems to solidify that interpretation actually; two bullets underneath the quoted summary sentence is, verbatim: "Unsolicited means that mentioning the product serves no purpose other than promotion", which is word for word equivalent to the flag reason's "Exists only to promote a product or service".
    – zcoop98
    Commented Jan 5 at 16:25


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