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Can we please come to a final decision as to what we're doing with answers that recommend commercial extensions?

Tim seems to close answers like https://magento.stackexchange.com/a/7710/336 fairly often, while Ben's edit to this meta thread suggests that all extension recommendations are welcome (What to do with questions & answers regarding free extensions?) but, in general, we keep an eye out for spam and encourage better behavior with edits and comments (my interpretation anyhow).

I just would like us to be very clear, have unanimous moderator support and consistency in actioning.

Once the final decision is made, let's add to a community wiki.

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    And, personally, I think a hard-line stance on no recommendations of commercial extensions is the wrong direction for this community. – philwinkle Sep 9 '13 at 0:56
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Value to the community is primary to StackExchange. It is incumbent on participants and moderators to add value. For the latter we must wield the knife of moderation conservatively, erring on the side of maintaining democracy and free speech. That said, I submit that even an answer with commercial/exposure aims is okay as long as it adds value. That's the simple answer.

Where we are getting crossed up a bit is by having to evaluate whether or not a "use this extension" answer is well-considered or purely promotional. This will be an inexact practice, and it will be subject to our communal knowledge of the author. For example, if Alan Storm posts a link to some extension (his or another's), we know from history and overall contributions that the goal is almost certainly informational. (Alan will also not provide a link-only answer.) When there is not much context to evaluate a post (e.g. new user), we should be informed a bit by StackExchange norms:

Stack Exchange has automatic filters in place to ban answers from accounts that have contributed many low-quality answers in the past. These filters help keep the quality of our sites high. https://magento.stackexchange.com/help/answer-bans

SE has automated the process of identifying & mitigating low-quality content. This includes sparse/link-only answers. We are well within our rights to insist that answers meet this standard and to moderate answers (and users) which violate this standard.

Read the question carefully. What, specifically, is the question asking for? Make sure your answer provides that – or a viable alternative. ... Any answer that gets the asker going in the right direction is helpful, but do try to mention any limitations, assumptions or simplifications in your answer. Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better.

Links to external resources are encouraged, but please add context around the link so your fellow users will have some idea what it is and why it’s there. Always quote the most relevant part of an important link, in case the target site is unreachable or goes permanently offline. https://magento.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-answer

The first paragraph tells me that answers need to be "in the spirit" of what the OP is asking. Therefore an answer of "it will take forever to do this, here's an extension which does what you need" can be in the right spirit provided that the answer provides further qualification.

So, we probably need to stick to SE norms as much as possible, but in order to combat promotion-only posts which are not well-informed enough to justify the suggested product, we should have some rules of conduct:

  1. Remind that link-only posts are verboten per SE norms
  2. Answers which link to extensions (commercial or paid) must provide some experiential context (and ideally a programatic peek under the hood)
  3. Answers which link to extensions (commercial or paid) to which the author is connected must state this connection
  4. When a user exhibits obvious patterns of linking to one provider's extensions, the objectiveness will be evaluated and those posts & user account become subject to moderation

I think that #3 is the most important, and that #4 should be subject to moderator consensus (more than one moderator required to act)

  • Great answer! and also +1 for taking the time to referencing the SE guidelines :) – Sander Mangel Sep 9 '13 at 13:10
  • You've got my vote, Ben! :) – davidalger Sep 10 '13 at 2:14
  • The votes have it - seems as if the community agrees with Ben and Ryaan. I would like to see unanimous moderator acceptance. After that perhaps we can draft this answer into a community wiki. – philwinkle Sep 10 '13 at 16:53
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    I, ahh, accept. – benmarks Sep 11 '13 at 2:45
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For community sites or forums, i personally feel that comments or responses that contain promotion of products or services should be allowed given that they have thoughtfully attempted to answer the questions or needs within the discussion.

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    The post referred in this question has "no attempt to answer the question", just to promote the extension. – user487772 Sep 9 '13 at 4:51
  • I would say the biggest problem is that there is a link and not very much details. So without the link, the answer is worthless, besides any commercial/FOSS discussion. This is a pretty common stackexchange meta-question. – Alex Sep 9 '13 at 8:58
  • There is a decent amount of content from the user IMHO with no obvious sign that it is a self promotion. We are discouraging participation by deleting. Tim also suggested that we don't allow commercial extension recommendations in the closing comments. This will curb that user's behavior. I want us to be clear and consistent in our behavior with regard to closing answers, that's all. – philwinkle Sep 9 '13 at 12:36
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For most open source platforms I would definitely be in favour of only promoting free extensions. But for Magento, a large percentage of great extensions are unfortunately paid.

If a answer promoting a free extension is well explained why this extension would be better than developing something yourself or free counterparts I have no objection.

And just to play the devils advocate, Magento EE is the most expensive solution to all Magento CE issues after all ;)

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    +1 The EE argument implies: We should threat answers recommending EE just as all other answers referring to 3rd paid extensions. – Alex Sep 9 '13 at 9:01
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The real concern with commercial extensions as an answer is that it's very hard to verify whether it's actually a good answer or not - that is, if I see someone recommend a free extension, I can check if that actually answers the question and vote accordingly. For a commercial one, I can't, unless I happen to also own it.

The flipside though is that right now, a commercial extension is still often actually the best answer for the question!

Personally I'd be for allowing this, but also encouraging a set of questions along the lines of 'Is Xyphoid_Whatever a well-built extension?' and linking to these whenever the extension is discussed.

  • +1 for the possibility of verification. I would say, if I answer a question with a link to an extension, I have to give a lot of credible info, why I think that extension is good and fits the answer. This by the way is true for all answers, that contain links. – Alex Sep 9 '13 at 8:55
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    On the verification part, isn't that what up and downvoting is for? If the extension sucks the answer will be downvoted or at least won't receive any votes – Sander Mangel Sep 9 '13 at 9:23
  • Exactly. I don't wee a ton of aitoc extensions being recommended around these parts. Most people already know what is good and bad. – philwinkle Sep 9 '13 at 12:27
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To thread together a few of the concerns that I've seen in the answers, and post somewhat of a succinct answer:

Answers with links to commercial extensions should be accepted if they address the question thoughtfully and add value to the community.

Also, because the source for the extension will be closed, the burden of proof is on the author to explain why the extension appropriately answers the question. If a commercial extension does address the problem, but the author doesn't explain why, then the answer can be closed without further consideration.

  • I say let downvotes and close votes dictate what should stay. Edits and comments to suggest edits should be our method of moderation. Deletes/closes should be reserved for the most egregious offenses, IMHO. – philwinkle Sep 9 '13 at 16:27
  • Ya I guess you're right. In the end, answers containing links to commercial extensions really aren't a special case at all. If the answer provides no value, then close it - otherwise let the community decide. – kalenjordan Sep 9 '13 at 23:30
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I wrote my opinion once and will do it again.

This resource is a community effort. People are investing their time to share their precious experience. Nobody get paid. Everyone is happy.

It is not acceptable that some individuals will exploit that act of good will in order to sell their junk or promote others junk.

If someone really thinks that for some particular question there is no other solution but purchasing a commercial extension then writing something like this will be enough.

As far as I know there is/are a commercial extension of it which I never tried and got no idea how reliable is it. To find a link please use Google.

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    It's the Internet after all. Links are not that bad. If I did not try an extension, I should maybe refuse from posting any answer. If I tried it and it is great (not saying that I tried any AW ext and it was good), why not linking to it? I think the more important point is to never just post a link to an extension store, but to give further information, why the extension might match the question and if there is any experience with the extension quality or not. – Alex Sep 9 '13 at 9:03
  • Maybe the rules should be less black and white, it's ok to post links to paid extensions but if it's starting to look like someone is promoting one publisher to much (or himself) the answers will be moderated. And maybe link to the Magento Connect page instead of directly to the publishers website to have a more objective source of reviews etc. since most of the paid extensions are on Magento Connect – Sander Mangel Sep 9 '13 at 9:18
  • In the case of the deleted answer from Tim referenced above there was no indication that the answerer was promoting their own paid extension. – philwinkle Sep 9 '13 at 12:30
  • @philwinkle, what sort of indication you would like to have? – user487772 Sep 9 '13 at 12:49
  • I do actual research - find the person on Twitter, find their blog or portfolio site; look them up on Github. I do a lot of work before flagging or voting to close. – philwinkle Sep 9 '13 at 13:28
  • @philwinkle, sorry but what does it have to do with "indication"? – user487772 Sep 9 '13 at 13:46
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I'd suggest

  • close if it is just a link and text "ohmygod you should try it out" as this is clearly a spam and does not matter who is spamming here
  • accept if it explains how will this solve the issue with asked question in mind

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