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With no intention of singling someone out, I am wondering if posts that include links that further self-interest are considered off topic. I am aware of the "Should product recommendations be on-topic?", but I feel like this could be slightly different. Examples that I've seen:

Now these are just what has already developed on the website and the information that was provided was relevant, but was directing us to the product that created the data relevant? What if they were links to beans I roasted, brewing products I've created, or a cafe that I own? If a top post, is a link to a Chemex that I can purchase through a Peet's Coffee, wouldn't the forum function as an unpaid advertisement?


As a note, I feel that those were all well structured answers and great contributions.

  • Thank you for asking and clarifying! I'm the poster in question and I've responded in an answer. – JayCo Feb 1 '15 at 18:39
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If they're well structured answers that were supported by a link given to something the author is affiliated with, it's generally fine. This is what to look for:

  • Do all of their answers in some way promote their product? That can be a red flag, not always, but can be. Some people just come to sites specifically to answer questions about their product. Look carefully.
  • Are many of their answers that also mention their product only tangentially related to the question at hand? That can spell trouble, if someone is looking for places to plant stuff
  • Do they clearly mention that it's their link? That's important, as it asserts a sort of "I hereby assert that this is given in good faith in the spirit of being helpful" thing

We positively want people whose job is coffee on this site, those are your professionals, the people that do lots of science and can answer tougher questions, especially about the brewing process. If they support some of their answers with stuff they're affiliated with, that's great. If they go a bit too overboard, moderators have means of contacting them to let them know.

With that said...

Coffee is a topic that is ripe with products (no pun intended), and we will see our fair share of folks that have come here for the wrong reasons. Fortunately, most of us have a very good ability to determine when something just doesn't seem right - and we give you the ability to flag things for moderator attention.

If you see something that gives you a bit of pause, and you seriously wonder if the person is here for the wrong reasons, flag it as 'other' and let us / the moderators-to-be have a look at it. Blatant spam obviously deserves a spam flag directly, I'm talking about the "If it weren't for the other answers in their history linking to the same site, this would seem completely benign" sorts of things.

Our job as hosts is to make people feel welcome and do our best to basically get out of their way as they participate. The fewer rules, the better. If this becomes a major problem down the road we can revisit it, but for now, I think it's sufficient if folks just keep an eye out for anything (or, to the point, anyone) going sideways with it.

  • 3
    "Do they clearly mention that it's their link..." yeah. Always a red flag for me when every answer links to their website without explanation – J. Musser Jan 29 '15 at 17:37
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    Thank you Tim, I agree with your assessment, and will try to follow those guidelines. – JayCo Feb 1 '15 at 18:41
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The posts in question are all my own - Hi everyone!

I'm here because I'm a coffee and tasting professional, and I want to help guide people though experiencing flavors, brewing better coffee, and understanding all the things that go into making coffee interesting, unique, and great.

I feel I can answer many of these questions better than nearly any other individual or organization because I work for a company that has around ~20,000+ coffee reviews on a full sensory system. I am allowed to use and post graphs and information derived from that data as long as I include a link back to the company.

With the exception of "How can I go about developing my ability to taste flavors in coffee?" all of my answers are highly up-voted answers; that question obviously crossed the line with the community into pure 'promotion' (despite the votes, I believe the app helps individuals learn to taste - but I did a poor job of communicating it).

I hope to continue to answer questions and support this community while staying on the right side of the self promotion line. If/when I fail at that, please let me know - my email is in my profile.

  • 1
    It tends to raise alarms when all of a user's posts refer to their own products... Do you plan to be involved in other ways? – apaul Feb 2 '15 at 1:48
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    I only use Gastrograph data to answer questions when relevant. I answer other questions without a link back to Gastrograph when my research and data is irrelevant, such as here: coffee.stackexchange.com/questions/284/… – JayCo Feb 2 '15 at 1:55
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    Just checking, I've seen a few users on SO that sort of push it. They're "within the rules", but people still raise a stink once in a while... – apaul Feb 2 '15 at 2:04
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    Let's just go ahead and say it. This user here, is just a coffee enthusiast and not a paid advocate. However, since you work at Gastrograph, isn't it just usual that there be something skewed, whenever you declare COI, it becomes even more difficult to maintain POV and now that you have, people will start noticing faults that would otherwise never be noticed. – therewillbecoffee Feb 2 '15 at 8:37

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