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Here I need to clarify what are the 'standard guidelines' for answering a question referring to your own tool/solution, that you yourself created, which is indeed related the problem raised in the question.

First I have already searched the help text and seen Link to my company tool? but the issue that there is a difference between a standard policy and a moderator's opinion and consistency across different moderators' actions. I am saying this as I have recently experienced, in my view, inconsistent reactions from the moderators.

The question is If your answer is relevant to the question but is referring to a solution that you have created then what are the guidelines for the following scenarios?

You have

  1. published the solution as open source (codeplex, codeproject etc)
  2. published it as a utility you created on your blog
  3. published it as a product for free
  4. published it as a product but not free

The dilemma I am in is you truly believe the solution that you have created can help the users facing related issue but if you refer to it then

  • you have to disclose that you own it
  • or do not disclose you own it but as if they were some third party tools…

I can understand naturally we would go for option 1 but in my recent experiences with two moderators, as I understood, option 1 could mean you are marketing your solution.

So I am basically interested in finding some standard policy guidelines (ideally should be the part of help text). thanks, Hassan

——— more details if you are interested to read further -----

I like to give some context to the above scenario where I had issues dealing with two moderators. First as I know (from Google) this forum has its own business model. the owners are providing a free service but also make profit by some-other ways, however I believe moderatos work voluntary (which I highly regard).

In summary I and my partner have just released a free tool and I posted some answers lately where I believed our tool could help, but things didn't go well, here is a brief summary of timeline of events.

  • I posted two answers referring to our tool, fully disclosing that it is our product, mentioning the name of the company that we released under the answers lasted about two weeks, no issues
  • I posted another 4 answers a few days ago and yes made a mistake by not mentioning it was our product (if I had to hide this then I shouldn’t have mentioned in the first two posts)
  • now if you trust me, (as I cannot prove) I came back in an hour as I relasied I didn’t mention my association, as I was editing the answers (literally I inserted ‘I and my partner created’) and saw deletion notifications. Not only the recent for answers were deleted but also the first two, giving the same reason

"Undisclosed advertising is not allowed. I will remove your answers mentioning this product. Robert Lindgren “

  • I looked for the options to contact Robert, couldn’t reply to his comment as he had closed the thread, could not find an option to chat, however found the linkedin link in his profile, sent a message there (message attached below), tried my best to understand the situation and admitting my mistake but also asked why the first two answers were deleted where the deletion reason given was not valid, and that I intended to repost after addressing his concerns.

Did’t post anything, received the reply next day which was in Swedish, I translated using google and it was

"Thank you for your concern, but I'm not interested in just that.”

of course I didn’t get it, what he was exactly referring to by ‘that’? couldn’t reply back as he declined any further communication in linkedin (Did he think I was a recruiter, did he read my message? did Google translate it wrong..?)

  • Anyways I posted another answer (to a relevant question that had zero answers), fully disclosing my association. I checked next day and my answer was upvoted, very encouraging
  • I posted another answer on the same lines to another question where my solution could help. Now things got interesting this time, both of my posts were deleted by SPDoctor and the reason was

"Sorry, but this is going too far. By all means suggest that there are third party tools in general, but this is just promoting your browser extension”

I was just looking at my screen, was feeling aren’t the moderators behaving in a cowboyish style? sorry if it offends but I myself did feel offended, cannot communicate back, conflicting views, communication is not clear ( in the absence of clear policy guidelines).

So decided now I had to come here. From my side our tool is not dependent on StackExchange, however I came here as a community forum and genuinely wanted to help but I think I was taken otherwise.

I am always happy to accept my mistakes, fix them and move forward but I am sorry to say the moderators actions were not helping. With power comes the responsibility, I understand they are doing their best to protect this forum from spammers but they should also be considerate. For instance, my profile name is my real name, if I wanted to sneak in, then after spending 20 years in the field of IT I knew how this could be done but I myself do not like those tactics by online marketers.

Anyways, I didn’t want to come here, tried to communicate back, failed so I thought to raise this matter here, so that in future it can help others.

Ref: My email

"Hi ----, Sorry for contacting you here on linked in, but couldn't find a way to communicate on StackExchange. This is in regards to deletion of my comments regarding my product ---, I can understand your concern and they were valid but there are a few things which I believe have been overlooked, so wanted to clarify.

  1. I had posted a couple of comments a few weeks ago, where I mentioned in the very first sentence that we owned this product "Knowing how difficult it is, navigating in SharePoint,we aimed to come-up with a solution too. Finally after months of efforts this weekend we have released"... those comments were also deleted.

  2. Honestly after posting the comments today, I thought the same thing that this time I didn't mention my associate, came back after an hour and as I was editing my new comments I say the deletion notifications. Anyways it as indeed a lapse on my side.

  3. If I had to conceal my identity then I won't using my real name, plus as per the point 1 above had mentioned in the previous posts it was our product, we all know how easy to find these associations if some-one is using his real name.

  4. Last but not the least, we spent about two years in coming up with --, we indeed wanted to help the SharePoint users, and that's why I went to StackExchange to find people facing issues where our solution could help.

    Hope it clarifies, the things, I intend to repost the comments and this time will be explicit in mentioning that I am the creator of this product. Best Regards”

    reply

“Tack för omtanken, men jag är inte intresserad av just detta."

enter preformatted text here
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First of all it is great that you want to help other. That is the very baseline of the StackExchange network. By asking questions and answer question users who put valuable posts here get up-votes from other users. It’s harder here than on other networks, but eventually users earn reputation point. Reputation points give access to higher privileges, such as commenting on posts other than your own or participate in chat.

The best way to post questions and answers is on SharePoint itself and not some tool that may or may not work well with SharePoint. This is especially true for new users who haven’t provided any other posts. Linking to a tool on one post may be OK if the user have provided other posts without links to tools. Linking to a tool on every post and not providing any other posts without linking to tools is suspicious, and will be handled accordingly as it is considered as advertisement.

If a user wants to promote tools the user should go to the StackOverflow advertisement page.

  • Thanks Benny, I appreciate your objectivity. – ItsOk Sep 8 '15 at 6:54
  • In fact it summaries it as answers deletion is subjective, based on the users' (of course real users and not spammers) reputation and history, something which might not be allowed for one user could be allowed for another, because his/her reputation would weigh in and moderator would take the decision accordingly. I understand that and it makes sense. Thanks again for clarifying. – ItsOk Sep 8 '15 at 7:48
  • and one last thing on advertisement, we haven't reached that level of commercialisation, don't have budget either but do believe it is beneficial to the users and intend to keep the current version free. – ItsOk Sep 8 '15 at 7:57
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    If you have 1000 answers, with 1 or 2 promoting a third party product, most likely because the author asked for it, there is no issue. If you have 10 posts, all containing links to your product, when the question isn't looking for third party stuff, that is a problem. Your business model has no baring on how the site will operate. If you want to pay for ad space, there are channels to do so. If you are going to astroturf and mooch off the site for free advertising, your posts and even accounts will get deleted. – Eric Alexander Sep 8 '15 at 11:46
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First of all, I handle no disputes via informal channels (LinkedIn is not one of the formal communication channels for this community), hence I just clicked the button "I'm not interested".

Secondly, and at the core here:

Your answers only exists to promote your own browser extension, the promotion is the only thing in your answers, it is not just a part of a greater answer that suggests alternative solutions as well. That is where we draw the line here (as you have been informed by SPDoctor, and by myself).

This is also clearly stated in the post you link to as a reference above. It is OK to answer with only your third party tool if:

  1. It is a question targeted towards third-party tools and
  2. If it is clearly stated that you are associated with the tool.

The main part of your answers we have deleted does not meet any one of those two requirements, a smaller part meets the second requirement, but not the first.

If you wish to promote a tool or product in the way you have done so far the community do have advertising deals for you, but you can not keep doing it in the format that you are today.

Here is another quote from the above post:

And as a side remark i already last week deleted all other posts from same user, because no disclosure was given, and contacted offending user about the rules of this site. Also another thing to consider is, that if all posts from a given user is answers mentioning their product, it is considered astroturfing. We do have advertising packages for companies that want to create attention on their products

I hope this clarifies our rules and how this community handles advertisement.

  • Thanks Robert, it helps, however looking back at your comment, "Undisclosed advertising is not allowed. I will remove your answers mentioning this product." which didn't clarify this, it appeared you were saying the only issue was the association was no disclosed. Furthermore StackExchange (as far as I know but may be wrong, though couldn't find a way) doesn't provide a channel to communicate back directly with the moderator and better understand the issue and sort it out. I do not think for getting clarification from one person one should come here, it would create unnecessary threads. – ItsOk Sep 8 '15 at 6:32
  • Also I believe it is the time for moderators too to look back the way the communicate, they are not above the law & rules either, in fact they have to set the bar high. cheers – ItsOk Sep 8 '15 at 6:32
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    Would you have some more reputation you would be able to use the chat rooms that we have in the community. Also, the purpose meta forum is for clarifying how the community works, and why it works this way, so this is truly the right place to solve this type of arguments – Robert Lindgren Sep 8 '15 at 6:41
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    Ok fine,I can see you are not ready to accept that you should have provided a better comment while deleting the answer, this is the guidelines for other moderators to poorly communicate and then ask the users come to the meta forum (I can accept this is the right forum but it is unfortunate you do not accept that moderators have the responsibility to better communicate in the first place). Thanks – ItsOk Sep 8 '15 at 6:52

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