Someone flagged this answer as spam because the answering person left two identical answers, one on each of two different questions.

Is this SPAM because it's about a commercially-supported freemium plugin, because it the answerers only two contributions and because he didn't even have the sense to vary his answer? Or is his answer a legitimate answer because it in fact seems to answer the questions (although I've not downloaded his plugin to test, nor set up tests to verify?)

I'm inclined to say it is not SPAM but instead a legitimate answer. Just because it's a commercially-supported plugin and he doesn't doesn't seem to be here for other's benefit doesn't mean that it's not a legitimate answer (assuming the plugin really does address the question.)

I want to know about commercial solutions instead of just free how-to code examples or references to free but essentially unsupported plugins so I would hate to discourage vendors from posting links to their plugins for fear of being called spammers.


  • 4
    Disclosure is very important to me. See for example this answer, which specifies it's a paid product, gives some limitations of the product, and discloses the connection with the author. This disclosure could be a bit clearer, which is why I left the comment, but not flagged it as possible spam.
    – Jan Fabry
    May 16, 2011 at 6:47
  • @Jan Fabry - Excellent points. I guess I was not looking as closely at each post because there were 15(!) items flagged for moderation when I checked yesterday. That's probably not many for StackOverflow, but a lot for what I've seen here. BTW, someone else flagged it as spam. May 16, 2011 at 17:44
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    The reason I flagged as spam was because 2 different users were created and all 4 answers between them were exactly the same. Had it been just 1 user it wouldn't have gotten my attention.
    – Chris_O
    May 16, 2011 at 20:19
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    @MikeSchinkel: +1 for @Chris_O on the one hand. On the other hand, i often link to some of my github projects. Those are free & open source (MIT). In the middle: I could also have a paid support forum somewhere, which is a buisness model that's pretty widespread nowadays. (Att.: Fictional) Figuring out that I have a commercial model two doors behind my link, that can only be found with some research, would exactly be the same. I tend to say that there should be some internal rule sets a eg. %-value of how many answers may contain a mention/link to the comm. plugin. Else drop out.
    – kaiser
    May 16, 2011 at 23:26
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    @Chris_O - That's cool. I was looking too fast. But I think maybe this question and the followups really help to shed light on what's good and what's bad thanks to @Dori. May 17, 2011 at 18:02

2 Answers 2


Looks like spam to me

  • user5343 and user5344 created their accounts three minutes apart.

  • user5343 has posted twice:

    • A response to the question "How to let users choose posts order in categories?"

      You can do that manually and set any order you need using this plugin Post Types Order

    • A response to the question "featured posts order"

      You can use the Post Types Order it's the easiest way for posts order within categories or custom taxonomies

  • user5344 has posted twice:

    • A response to the question "Changing publish date does not update post order"

      There is a much easier pursue for posts order using the Post Types Order just drag and drop and you're done.

    • A response to the question "post re-order on my site"

      There is a plugin called Post Types Order which allow you to sort posts and pages you should try that.

    • This user also has a Stack Overflow account; its only activity this year was to post a response to the question "WordPress control both post order and number of posts in category.php"

      Just use the Post Types Order plugin, you do't need to change any code, just sort the posts and you're done.

  • The two accounts have each visited the site from two IP addresses—to be precise, the same two IP addresses, both of which trace back to Romania.

  • Three of the four answers were posted within 10 minutes of the accounts being created.
  • Each of their two answers has received between 1 and 3 votes. 5343 has received three votes and has voted twice. 5344 has received four votes and has voted three times.

What sets my alarms off:

one liner answers
answers that link to a commercial product
answers & accounts disclose no product affiliation
account has only this kind of activity
multiple accounts from same IPs
multiple accounts most likely cross-voting


(aka TL;DR version)

I say spammer, sockpuppeteer, and generally useless. These accounts aren't likely to ever contribute quality content.

The FAQ is very clear:

Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if they happen to be about your product or website, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers. Also, if a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons.

Commercial vendors are more than welcome to contribute to SE sites so long as they follow the rules. These two accounts didn't.

  • Thanks for the thorough and helpful writeup. BTW, I received through the system what looked like a (scary) message to me but after reading it it seemed to be for the user mentioned but then it seemed like it was encouraging me to email the user. Am I supposed to email the user, or is that only a convenience if I feel the need to? May 16, 2011 at 17:42

Dori already covered this, but I want to add one bit of guidance:

There needs to be a pattern of genuine participation on the site.

Drive-by product endorsements, even if they are technically on-topic, fully disclosed, and answer the question, are not really welcome. That's just targeted advertising.

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