If you see all the post from this user Visual Micro. A great deal of his/her answers lead the user to a single product. Is this allowed by SE policy and should be flagged?
Users are allowed post good, relevant answers that talk about their own product or website as long as they disclose their affiliation with the product or website in the answer.
Overt self-promotion should be down-voted or flagged as spam.
The Help Center has a page that addresses this.
Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, that’s okay. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.
S/he has made some posts which do not refer to Visual Micro. I'm a bit unsure about this one. If this Visual Micro product (which I don't personally use) is so great, why don't other people recommend it? That would be my first question.
I must admit some of my answers have links to my own web site, however I am not selling anything. Everything there is free for the taking, and the site does not have ads. Plus, I know StackExchange doesn't like "link only" answers, so I usually try to at least summarize the information I have on my site, so that the answer stands on its own. On the other hand, it seems silly to copy and paste huge swathes of text from one site to another (eg. how to make interrupts work) just to avoid posting links.
I might try asking this on Meta StackExchange, see if the issue is dealt with there.
In summary, I think answers along the lines of "My product XYZ from my website will solve that for you" are borderline advertisements. Especially if you have to pay for the product.
Without that disclosure, you may think that a trusted member of this site, not associated with the product, is recommending it.
Compare to some of my answers, like "I have code on my website that will solve that problem" (for free).
If you have used a particular product to solve a problem, it is ok to mention that in your answer, while also explaining how it is used to solve the problem.
It is not ok to link to a product or site in all your answers, or if the link is the whole answer. Especially not if it is your product or site.
In my experience, posts with links are not downvoted if all these conditions are met:
- you paraphrase the content of the linked item (possibly omitting details or examples)
- you identify the author (yourself, MSDN, etc)
- someone could benefit from the answer without reading the linked item at all
- you include information to let the reader decide if clicking the link is worthwhile
Linking to commercial products is a fine line to walk. If you are associated with the company that sells the product you link to, you need to disclose that ("our company makes a product called Frobnar, which you should look at").
Visual Micro (or any other similar user) be asked to do three things if s/he links to a related product page:
- Disclose that s/he is (financially) associated with that site (it should be obvious from the user name, however some of those links do not mention the product by name until you have followed them).
- Disclose that the recommended solution is a paid product
- Provide enough information that you can tell, without following the link first, how the product would help, exactly.