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The spam flag says that the question or answer "Exists only to promote a product or service, does not disclose the author's affiliation."

The question that provoked me to ask this question is the soon to be deleted question Content Marketing Services to Boost Your Business Growth!. The questioner's user ID is the questioner's website, so it definitely fails to pass the "does not disclose the author's affiliation" test. This is nonetheless blatant spam. Moreover, the "does not disclose the author's affiliation" links to the How to not be a spammer page. If I was a spammer (which I am not), I would read that page as "How to be a spammer, and get away with it".

My question: Is there a rationale for the "does not disclose the author's affiliation" clause?

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    Relevant question on MSE: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/307955/… – F1Krazy Feb 1 at 12:57
  • That sounds like it was blatantly off topic which would mean disclosing the affiliation doesn't really matter – Joe W Feb 1 at 13:13
  • @JoeW The linked question most certainly was blatantly off topic, and it most certainly was obviously spam. I did flag it as in need of moderator intervention but not as spam because of that qualifier. – David Hammen Feb 1 at 13:43
  • @F1Krazy The linked meta question is certainly relevant, but it does not answer the question regarding why that qualifier even exists. There can be no doubt that the question on our main site that drove me to ask this meta question was spam. It was spam, pure and simple. But since the questioner explicitly made their username the same as the name of the spam site, that qualified in my mind as disclosure of affiliation. – David Hammen Feb 1 at 13:49
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    @DavidHammen The way I would read the flag is with "," representing "or" (not "and"). – tim Feb 1 at 14:45
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I suspect (without providing any evidence) this wording is a hangover from StackOverflow, where they wanted to avoid:

The best library for embedding Rust in your COBOL is COBOLᴙUST. ⭐⭐⭐⭐ It does everything you could ever want, and it is only $299.99/month. Buy it now

But they wanted to encourage:

I am the maintainer of COBOLᴙUST. Here is a quote from our FAQ that describes how it can be used to meet your needs.

Skeptics.SE doesn't have this class of problem; our spam tends to be more blatant.

I wouldn't overthink this. These posts don't need to be carefully weighed up by high-rep users. Flag it as spam. Let the system handle it.

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    That is my thoughts a well and it is not meant to prevent the flagging of spam that is blatantly off-topic just because they declare that they are affiliated with it. In the end it is unwelcomely trying to promote something so it is spam. – Joe W Feb 1 at 14:38
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Is there perhaps an implied or in the usage guidance sentence?

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

It seems to me that an otherwise good answer that leans heavily on the author's work elsewhere, but is not disclosed, is often called "spam". I don't particularly agree with that assessment for Skeptics use cases, but if and was implied then we're left with a particularly strange definition of spam, as you note. With that in mind, the implied "or" is the sensible way to go.

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  • Perhaps, but do you disclose your affiliation when you post an answer? I don't do so if I ask or answer a question that is unassociated with what I do for a living. And if I a question arises that is associated with what I do for a living, I am very careful not to associate my answer with my employer. For example, I recently answered a question regarding why it took NASA so long to discover the ozone hole. I know exactly why; I wrote the software. I was very careful not to name names or name my employer at the time. – David Hammen Feb 1 at 21:18
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    @DavidHammen Affiliation seems to only be an issue when there's a conflict of interests. That is, you stand to make money if the answer is one way over another. For example, a question that asks whether some chemical has a positive effect to treat some illness. If you happen to be a scientist or professional working on that exact issue, then it is not only appropriate but mandatory that you say so if you were to answer the question. Compared to your NASA answer and your experience on the issue, there doesn't appear to be any chance for you to make money if the answer is one way over another. – fredsbend Feb 2 at 0:19

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