Are self links okay in AskMe? January 13, 2004 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Are self links okay in AskMe? This question appears to appropriate AskMe for a commercial purpose.
posted by timeistight to Etiquette/Policy at 9:07 AM (34 comments total)

It might have been better to pose the question in more general terms, without specifically linking to the site, but it's a legitimate question and I don't think stav is attempting to abuse the system--if that's the implication.
posted by jpoulos at 9:11 AM on January 13, 2004

I agree, I don't think stav meant to use Ask MeFi as a place to scout potential buyers. To me it appears as if he just linked to it to provide more background information.
posted by riffola at 9:20 AM on January 13, 2004

I agree. The question could very, very easily have been posed without a link or a more general link " lodge..." describing what the hell a fishing lodge is.

That said, stav doesn't strike me as the kind of guy to intentionally abuse his question. Probably a thinko.
posted by majick at 9:20 AM on January 13, 2004

I hereby submit my vote that the post is fine and totally appropriate. He was asking for strategies, and the link is valid background information to help potential answerers understand just what he needs help with.

Didn't sound at all like he was trying to get *us* to buy it.
posted by beth at 9:24 AM on January 13, 2004

On the other hand, bringing the link here at Meta-Talk, you've re-posted it. Just saying;)
posted by thomcatspike at 9:24 AM on January 13, 2004

In my mind this is the third or fourth question that is basically a self-link, and my worry with these is that while they still provide utility, it sets a bad precedent for others. There's been one about someone's band going on tour and there's been a few others that are similar in nature, and I've been working on language to make it clear that's not cool. It's possible to ask a question without pimping your own project, site, or product.

I was thinking of showing a "bad" and a "good" post, with the good one talking about the problem without specifically mentioning your own page. I'd hate for ask metafilter to become a thinly veiled avenue for self-promotion.

Stavros, I don't mean to come down on you, it's just the latest in a string of similar posts that kind of cross a line. I think you could have described the area and problem of selling a remote lodge without mentioning the property's URL, and still gotten good responses.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:25 AM on January 13, 2004

Actually, looking back at the band post, the person never mentioned the name of their band or their URL, so I guess it's ok. I suppose it left a stinky taste in my mouth the first time I saw it because I could tell it might be a new trend that could degrade the quality of ask metafilter. Anyway, I'll definitely look into a similar no self-link policy for ask metafilter.

I wonder if asking questions for friends should also be discouraged.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2004

I've wondered about this too - a few people have asked about travel advice for a region I just wrote a guidebook to. I emailed them both, assuming that would be more kosker, but still wondered if it would be OK to say something like "check out my website, it's in my profile" or some such thing...
posted by gottabefunky at 10:06 AM on January 13, 2004

um, "kosher"
posted by gottabefunky at 10:07 AM on January 13, 2004

I agree with Matt that outright advertising on AskMe is inappropriate, but it is also inevitable that some questions will be posted with commercial goals in mind. At least two of the questions I asked were directly related to job assignments, and so were certainly "commercial" in at least some respect. Reading back over the archives, it is clear that a substantial number of questions were similarly asked; while most did not refer explicitly to any commercial interest, many were obviously related to making money at some point. I think Stavros' question would have been entirely appropriate had he omitted the link itself.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:10 AM on January 13, 2004

what about placing the link inside the post (more inside...) instead of having it on the front page...? i can see where someone's expertise in real estate might require they see the property...
posted by t r a c y at 10:20 AM on January 13, 2004

what about placing the link inside the post (more inside...)
someone's expertise in real estate might require they see the property...

Tracy, that is what our member page is used for, posting an e-mail address to be reached at...if you don't use it, then it's your loss..."go nuts".
posted by thomcatspike at 10:43 AM on January 13, 2004

"I'm selling my laptop on EBay, it's a really nice laptop too. Can anyone recommend what type of box would be best to ship it with?" type questions could flood askme if we don't have a clear line.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:20 AM on January 13, 2004

BFD. I doubt he was even thinking of getting inquiries through his posting. It was a "how do I do this..." rather than a "by the way, I have a lake for sale" post. Posting the link on a [more inside] first post might have been more appropriate though. Long AskMe's are bad.
posted by bonehead at 11:23 AM on January 13, 2004

that is what our member page is used for, posting an e-mail address to be reached at

true, true. but the inside self link is definitely more acceptable, and quite common on the blue.

"go nuts".

posted by t r a c y at 11:35 AM on January 13, 2004

I doubt he was even thinking of getting inquiries through his posting

I agree, as I've stated. I've only raised an eyebrow because it seems going from that post to the ficticous ebay laptop example isn't too far, and expected in the weekes to come without a clear rule in place.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:11 PM on January 13, 2004

the inside self link is definitely more acceptable, and quite common on the blue.
By the person whom posted the post, or you mean in the commentary?
Chime in: don't think stav self-posted, only over explained.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:12 PM on January 13, 2004

I'm all for allowing self links in comments, especially in ask-mefi. If I've done some work directly related to the question, then it'd be silly to hide that from the person. For example, if I run a website that provides swing dancing information (I do) and someone asks about swing dancing, then it'd be pretty silly to pretend I don't know about the website.

I did this recently in a post on busted / warped monitors - I have a page on how to get magnet warps out of a monitor - and got a couple of posts thanking me for doing so.

I'd also agree with sentiments that the link would have been better placed inside, but that this post was generally fine.
posted by woil at 12:35 PM on January 13, 2004

Maybe the rule should just be: don't try and sell stuff by posting to AskMe. And / or, if you're going to link to something in AskMe then you need to disclose any conflict of interest.
posted by bshort at 1:15 PM on January 13, 2004

woil, like at metafilter, self-links by other commenting users is perfectly fine. We're talking about self-links by the person posting a question in this case, not everyone else responding.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:57 PM on January 13, 2004

There certainly has to be a line drawn where posters are not permitted to use AskMeFi as an advertising medium and there is always the risk of the e-bay type question mentioned earlier if the line is not drawn correctly. The post in question was clearly not done with an intent to try and sell something to readers of AskMeFi and was asking for advice on how to sell to others. There is a thin line, however.

I don't see that there would have been any difference whether stavros had linked the site on the main page or inside the thread after the inevitable "can you tell me some more about the property so I can best advise you" question was asked. It is more about intent and, while it would probably be easy to see that someone had posted something with the sole intent of advertising it on AskMeFi, proving it is another story and maintaining consistency is something I am glad I do not have to do.

Unfortunately, the solution may be to ban self-links if you are the poster of the thread but, due to the nature of AskMeFi as opposed to MeFi, this would make it impossible to ask some questions. Saying it is OK to self-link inside the thread but not on the main page seems a bit pointless to me in the AskMeFi context, but I guess it is a little more subtle that way.
posted by dg at 2:39 PM on January 13, 2004

Just woke up.

My question was not advertising, although that must, of course, be a natural consequence (ie more people being aware of the background to my question) of asking a question like that in such a forum. I debated whether to write paragraph after paragraph describing the place (which is in some ways unique) or just link to the info I'd put up already. It seemed like a no-brainer.

My intentions were pure. I'm worried about my mom and desperate (or nearly so) for help. I do understand that it may seem a fine line, and that standards are evolving, but this type of question does not seem to me to violate the spirit of the site. Apologies if it seems as if I took advantage.

Also : banning self-links in AskMe seems really dumb to me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:16 PM on January 13, 2004

But you're probably right, that the link to the info on my site probably pushed the envelope in the bad direction, particularly for those who do not know how much I revile the very concept of advertising.

If I'd thought about it some more, I'd probably have just put the link in my profile or something and mentioned it, but given recent threads like oissubke's name-my-company question and others, a potential Metatalk callout really was the last thing I expected.

And here I am the guy who was claiming he had a good handle on the AskMe-geist. Ah well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:38 PM on January 13, 2004

Stavros, I'm sure your motives were pure. However, if a link to "For Sale" page on your own site passed without censure, I'd soon be linking to the used CD site I'm developing, and my motives would be crassly commercial.

Anyway, no hard feelings, I hope. Best of luck to your folks. It looks like a fabulous place.
posted by timeistight at 4:04 PM on January 13, 2004

It is, and thanks, and no hard feelings. If my life were very different, I'd be taking the place over myself, but that's not gonna happen, I don't think. I just want to get them nicely semi-retired somewhere where they don't have to work so damn hard, and money is not such a constant nagging worry. I thought this might give me some info to help out -- I feel totally useless over here in Korea, and it's always upsetting to talk with my mom on the phone, as I did the other day, and hear her sounding so down.

The good son, suddenly, after decades of being, er, not so good.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:27 PM on January 13, 2004

Thanks for the clarification stavros. I won't ask people not to self-link on their questions, but instead ask them not to use their question as a promotional device (like a new book, or stuff for sale, or a site someone just launched).

For what it's worth, the price is really cheap in US dollars (you could buy a regular 3 bedroom house that makes no money in almost any market in america for that price) and I forwarded it along to some well-off relatives that love to fish and hunt.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:42 PM on January 13, 2004

Thanks, Matt. I appreciate it immensely.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:49 PM on January 13, 2004

i have no advice to offer, but best of luck to you and your parents stav.
posted by poopy at 6:21 PM on January 13, 2004

At least two of the questions I asked were directly related to job assignments, and so were certainly "commercial" in at least some respect.

Just to attempt a de-rail at the end of a perfectly satisfactory meta talk; how do people feel about AskMe being used for commercial gain? When an answer gained here could make the Asker [or even worse his or her employees] richer at no cost to them?
posted by meech at 9:28 PM on January 13, 2004

There are so many reasons why a poster may feel the need to link to his/her site within the context of a question that I do hope that the self-linking caveat will really have only to do with overt commercial motivation, and that this is made quite clear. What frightens me is the idea that we will begin to have all sorts of MeTa call-outs with members disagreeing with whether "X" of "Y" self-link is fair-use or not, and once we begin subject AskMe to the same sorts of rigors MeFi endures, many questions will not be asked, or perhaps as in woil's example, answers given.

And now that I'm at it, I might as well also say that I think the idea of criticizing (and endlessly commenting on) someone's perceived political or philosophical point of view as a result of something mentioned in an askme post is utterly asinine, to such an extent that it almost poses a question of censorship by intimidation.. I'm not big on rules (at all), but I do think that this should be strongly discouraged.
posted by taz at 10:05 PM on January 13, 2004

and meech, my own answer to your question is that so many things will inevitably fall within the category of "financial gain" that we need to be careful in formulating our ideas about this. If someone asks for advice on how to set up an online shop, or how to go about appraising the value of a property, or how to find a better job, or even how to increase their skillset - these are questions that are financially motivated, and perfectly good topics that are also likely to help others. If someone asks whether the items in their online shop are priced too low, though, it's probably just a bid for customers, which is what makes this a bit difficult...
posted by taz at 10:15 PM on January 13, 2004

In all honesty, I don't see anything wrong with asking questions which will lead to answers which will lead to personal or financial gain. I do think we should reject questions where the mere act of asking the question itself will lead to financial gain -- either by pitching or "pepsi-ing" a product or merely taking advantage of the domain's high google juice.
posted by majick at 11:27 PM on January 13, 2004

I thought the question and link were fine. I had no idea of what the 'fishing lodge' looked like until I clicked the link; and while I hd no advice to offer, I think that if I had realty expertise the link would have helped me make appropriate suggestions for stavros.

I have however seen other questions that do seem to be more in the way of 'fishing expeditions' ('scuse pun); although maybe that's just my interpretation.
posted by carter at 8:33 AM on January 14, 2004

Clearly any attempt at financial self-improvement must be squelched. We are all equal, comrades. Now, let us sing "The Internationale."
posted by keswick at 9:23 AM on January 14, 2004

« Older Portland Homebrew meetup?   |   Is there an AskMe rss feed? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments