See also: How to deal with persistent Spam-User? and How to deal with Spam-Users?

I've been stumbling upon more and more users which fulfill all of these points:

  • 1 Rep
  • Company website as homepage in their profile
  • Linking/suggesting a product from this company
  • Less than 10 answers and all about their product

So, I've learned from Michael (not you Mrozek ;) ) that this isn't necessarily a bad thing. They're complying with the FAQ since they're stating their affiliation with the advertised company/product. But, they've failed in my opinion to give something back to the community (hence the 1-Rep).

The FAQ does include this sentence:

Also, if a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product, you're clearly here for the wrong reasons.

Now that adds something new to the mix; all of Michael's answers were about his products, but they were useful, so it was decided to keep it. If such a user is useful, I agree, we should warn him maybe, but let him be. But what to do with those 1-Rep users which vanish (read: stop posting answers) after 1 to 5 answers of advertisement?

  • 8
    Hmmm. A huge percentage of Eric Lippert's posts mention his product :P – Brian Sep 30 '10 at 13:34
  • possible duplicate of Limit to self-promotion in answers? – Shog9 Sep 30 '10 at 14:54
  • @Shog9: Yes and no...my question is basically a follow-up to the FAQ which were created in that earlier question. I'm basically asking: "What is too much self-promotion and were do we draw the line?". – Time Traveling Bobby Sep 30 '10 at 15:26
  • @Bobby: it's hard to come up with concrete rules for that. Some of us feel that any amount of overt self-promotion is at best crude and more often a blatant abuse of the site for personal gain. But then again, some of us don't feel comfortable promoting our legal names on the site, while others revel in it. So I doubt you're gonna get a better consensus than what's already been achieved: if an answer cannot be considered a useful, on-topic response and it promotes a product, it's likely spam; if all or most of a given user's answers fall into this category, then he's likely a spammer. – Shog9 Sep 30 '10 at 15:51
  • @Brian: surely you realize the difference between answering questions asked about your product and recommending your product in answers to questions that didn't ask about it. – Shog9 Sep 30 '10 at 15:52
  • @Shog9: To steal Eric Lippert's words: Mr. Smiley Face indicates that Brian was indulging in humourous japery. – Brian Sep 30 '10 at 16:34
  • @Brian: ah, sorry then. Sadly, this (people answering questions on the product they develop) has actually been used in the past as justification for overt spamming. – Shog9 Sep 30 '10 at 16:36
  • Here's a shameless plug for my suggestion that would deal with this (blocking answers from people with a history of junk answers): meta.stackexchange.com/questions/66164/… – user27414 Sep 30 '10 at 16:59
  • And what about the 1-rep girls? – Jeff Yates Sep 30 '10 at 17:08
  • 1
    @Jeff Yates: There you go. ;) – Time Traveling Bobby Sep 30 '10 at 18:07
  • @Bobby: did you say which users you're referring to? I didn't see where you said that. – John Saunders Sep 30 '10 at 18:42

The reputation says it all. If an answer is not helpful and is an advertisement, downvote it. Their reputation will suffer over time along with their credibility.

Or are the majority of users too naive for their low reputation to flag questionable answers?

  • 4
    The only problem is that, at 1 rep, a downvote does nothing. – Jared Harley Sep 30 '10 at 12:50
  • 4
    @Jared A downvote does nothing to that user. It still remains a useful thing for the site in terms of rating. – Grace Note Sep 30 '10 at 13:28
  • @Grace Right, but "their reputation will suffer over time along with their credibility." isn't true, unless people actually check their profile to see their question scores. A user with ten thousand downvotes looks the same as a new user with none – Michael Mrozek Sep 30 '10 at 15:24
  • 4
    @Michael As far as I'm concerned, reputation loss is a side-effect to the primary purpose of downvotes, which is marking bad content. And I don't think we need to be concerned with the lack of reputation loss. People shouldn't be judging their downvotes by whether or not the target loses reputation for it. Really, -2 isn't even that much. – Grace Note Sep 30 '10 at 15:51

Leave them alone. What harm are they doing? They have 5 answers that are sort of on topic, and they don't bother anyone.

Now if their posts are being flagged as spam, or they are blatantly off topic then you should take action to prevent them causing trouble.

In short, don't make a problem where there isn't one.

  • Just curious why you disagree, leave a comment if you care to explain. – C. Ross Sep 30 '10 at 20:29

We can't punish the user, since we're talking about disposable accounts. If a diamond mod warns a user, the user just gets another account and starts over. We can't have a rep requirement for answering questions, since new people have to get their starting rep somehow.

The only thing we can do is downvote bad answers.


Perhaps posting a link could be made a privilege, although of course, you'd get dummy accounts upvoting each other (unless upvoting becomes a privilege too), and filtering is yet more server load.

If a post contains a mix of useful content and advertising, then the most appropriate action is to edit out the ad. This would probably need a 'flag edit for mod review' option, so that edits weren't rolled-back (although that would be flaggable behaviour in itself).

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