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While Googling for a utility a few weeks ago, I came up against this question:

Automated method to convert .reg registry file to reg.exe commands

Which was exactly what I was after. However, the only answer had been flagged as spam. Due to my rep points, I was able to see that the answer pointed to here: http://www.sordum.org/

While the link was broken, they do make a product (http://www.sordum.org/8478/reg-converter-v1-0/) which is exactly what was requested. I flagged this answer as not spam, but it was declined. Why?

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Having just spent several minutes weed-whacking a bunch of similar posts from hopeful marketers trying to provide tool suggestions to people having problems, I can say that such tool-only posts are an invitation sign to a lot more. Every morning I have to deal with one to three such posts.

Since you have the rep to see it, take a look at the deleted history of this question:

How can I extract email (in a PST) from an Exchange 2007 EDB file?

There are 5 deleted answers all from tool-vendors hoping to be the one that provides the (paid) lifeline out of a problem to someone, or someone with a similar problem looking for answers. ServerFault used to allow such posts, it couldn't be link-only but had to be directed at the question itself and not copy-pasted to a bunch of questions. Two-ish years ago there was a community change as a whole to start spam-flagging them. There were a few solid months of people dutifully mining old questions for just that kind of answer to flag and made a lot of work for us moderators.

The big problem with this kind of post is that it is a signal to other marketers that such backdoor marketing is welcome and we had many questions end up with six answers all from tool vendors saying 'my tool works too, just FYI'. We had several debates in mod-notify with some of these marketers that cites, "Well, it's allowed HERE <link> so why am I getting the mod-hammer?" which made us have to weed-whack THAT question too. It leads to a sense of entitlement on the part of the marketers since there is no clean way to discriminate between actually-helpful and spam, so the decision was made as a whole to flag it all as spam since spam-bait is just as bad as the spam itself.

  • +1 THIS! So much of this – Chris S Aug 21 '14 at 13:53
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    This should really be explained network wide. – Jeff Atwood Aug 28 '14 at 8:56
5

I think there's a right way to answer a question like that

  1. Make sure you're representing yourself correctly - A lot of these spammers tend to use fake identities and countries to make themselves seem legit. And completely failing

  2. Make it clear how your product solves the problem precisely. If you're going to make a pitch make a pitch. A link only answer dosen't do that. Nor does astroturf flavoured copy pasta.

  3. Answer questions that are not about product - since you need to be a user who happens to write a cool application that solves problems. NOT someone who's hanging out here trying to sell people stuff.

  • There are people who walk this tightrope well, most don manage it al all though. – Iain Aug 21 '14 at 21:56
  • I agree. It would be nice if such a post cost rep. Then they would have to genuinely contribute to the community in order to post it. Although enforcing this would be difficult. – Jacob Tomlinson Aug 22 '14 at 14:05
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    Downvotes do the trick, as would flagging if its spammy. – Journeyman Geek Aug 22 '14 at 14:06
  • +1 even if I disagree with item 3. What matters is the quality of the answer, not who gave it. – Cristian Ciupitu Aug 28 '14 at 13:08
  • Well thats why its number 3. However that's a paraphrase of the rules on self promotion, and how its generally enforced. If someone posts great specific answers, or answers questions on $product well enough, no one might mind. – Journeyman Geek Aug 28 '14 at 13:13

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