3

Wondering what people think of answers like these recent ones from new-ish user Chris:

https://expressionengine.stackexchange.com/a/18377/55 https://expressionengine.stackexchange.com/a/18378/55

Very brief answers which vaguely describe what would need to be done, then pitch his own services. Not really spam or particularly offensive, but should we be discouraging this type of thing?

I don't mean to pick on him in particular, but it was two answers in a row, and it raises an interesting case maybe?

My assumption has always been that the way to generate leads through SE is by providing consistently good answers, not mentioning to other EE developers that you are also an EE developer and can write code for them.

4

This does come up from time to time, in fact there's a bit of a saga related to self-promotion on Meta Stack Overflow.

If your company has products that are directly related to the topic of the site, it's generally okay to recommend them if:

  • You answer the question directly. E.g. "This is my product, this is how you use it, and this is why it might be a good choice."
  • You clearly indicate that you are the author or beneficiary of the product or site
  • The vast majority of your answers do not mention your product or services
  • You refrain from promoting your product where it's at best tangentially related to the question

Those rules provide a rather narrow window where this sort of thing might be acceptable. But they apply mostly to established products, something that someone could go download and conceivably start using right away. This was established for libraries, game controller modifications, and other things.

When your product is yourself, this gets a little tricky. This is what I'd recommend:

  • Don't ever outright say "contact me off site so we can arrange something"
  • Don't answer the question unless you can tell them (roughly) what they need to build, and perhaps where they could get started - you need to answer the question
  • Do make certain that you let people know you do custom work, in your user profile and have some means of contacting you there
  • Do Take advantage of the fly-out user card summary line to alert folks that you are for hire if they need help

This lets users know that you can help them out, and how to get in touch with you without being shady or spammy. Users put everything from PayPal donate links as a 'tip jar' in their profiles to Amazon wishlists - that's nothing new. If you write awesome answers and know your stuff, people will see your details and availability.

You can promote yourself or your products, you just have to be very careful when doing so, and make sure it's your awesomeness that draws people to them, not just links ;)

  • Sure, your profile should be fair game to mostly do what you want with. – John Fuller Feb 4 '14 at 21:18
  • @JohnFuller That's worked well on other sites, provided that you don't become 'that guy' (obnoxiously trying to get attention on it and other shenanigans) – Tim Post Feb 5 '14 at 6:39
3

Agreed. Regardless of the advertising, neither of the posts really answer the question. Saying "if you can't find a way to do this using existing modules, you can create your own" seems fairly obvious and unnecessary.

My initial thoughts are that we should probably outright ban offering commercial services on this site, as it removes the goodwill/community aspect of it. Most users on here are already professional web developers too.

That said, I don't had a problem with people advertising their own existing modules as answers if they genuinely solve a problem the OP has. It's really just services that are the issue.

Let's ping Chris and get his thoughts/input on this.

3

I think this scenario is already covered by the SE format. The post answer must answer the posted question. If it doesn't the community/moderators flag it for removal. To me, an answer offering a service isn't a valid answer and as a moderator I would remove it.

2

I don't think you guys have been as crystal on this issue as you should be.

Nobody should ever advertise their own services here and it shouldn't be tolerated.

Offering services isn't what this site is all about. You provide an answer to a question, you don't offer that you can fix the issue yourself. If you can't provide a good enough answer, then don't provide one. Assume that everyone is capable of carrying out your instructions or that they will decide they can't do it and find outside help on their own.

I can't believe this is even an issue. In my years of querying this family of sites I have never come across this sort of thing.

Offering a service is information isn't helpful. Further, it's informatin which doesn't stand the test of time. For example, if I have a problem with X version of X software, then the answer provided will most likely always work for that situation. Even if the software is no longer available, the answer will still work if I'm in that situation. Your availability isn't something I can rely on. I can only rely on your answer.

  • Good comment John. You have clearly had the benefit of "querying this family of sites" for years; not all of us have. You raise a good point of the "test of time". On a side note i did expect the community to be a bit friendlier. Its not as if one of the cardinal sins has happened, the stack exchange community as a whole is not at jeopardy. A simply message explaining the infraction that has occurred would have been preferred to an entire community forum. Even with that said i appreciate the feedback. – Chris Feb 11 '14 at 20:18
1

First i'd like to say that it wasn't my intention to write 2 posts and come off as spam, but in both cases there aren't specific off the shelf solutions that cater to their needs. This particular StackExchange site isn't quite like others where i could simply dump a programming code example into my answer to sufficiently help someone out.

I do agree that a lot of people here are versed in HTML/CSS and Expression Engine itself, but that hardly makes them developers, or have the ability to accomplish more complicated tasks themselves without properly knowing how to write and manage an Expression Engine module.

The thing that i struggle with is that if i am not allowed offer a service to someone, then i instead must direct them to finance other developers, even when those other developers may not have the best solution available.

I'll certainly take the communities advice on whether offering services should be allowed. I respect everyone's opinion here and my only intention is to contribute in the best way possible. That being said though, its hard to see people struggling with problems when i can offer a solution, even if i haven't already developed that solution. I'd hate to have to answer a question saying "There isn't an easy, way to accomplish that task, there aren't any plugins that i know of that will provide a solution, you'll prob need someone to custom develop that", and then leave out the fact that i can help them accomplish that.

To put the matter to rest i've gone ahead and removed/edited my offending comments. Its clear that if i can't offer out of the box help, then i'd best not help at all. To me it's not worth any controversy. I appreciate the feedback.

  • 2
    Thanks for your thoughts Chris. I'd say that you don't need to point them to other developers - just point them in the right direction to get it done themselves: generally describe the process you can imagine a custom module performing, with any gotchas you might foresee, and add a link to the EE add-on development docs. In short, try to be more helpful. If you don't have the time/interest in going that far on questions like these, I'd suggest just not posting answer. – Derek Hogue Jan 15 '14 at 12:41
  • 1
    Here's one of my answers in this vein as an example: expressionengine.stackexchange.com/questions/10137/… – Derek Hogue Jan 15 '14 at 12:44
  • I feel you have misunderstood the purpose of this site. I have been querying these sites for years and I have never seen anyone offer development services in an answer. That information isn't helpful.Further, it's informatin which doesn't stand the test of time. For example, if I have a problem with X version of X software, then the answer provided will most likely always work for that situation. Even if the software is no longer available, the answer will still work if I'm in that situation. Your availability isn't something I can rely on. I can only rely on your answer. – John Fuller Jan 31 '14 at 13:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .