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As a new user on Ask Different, and of Macs in general, I have a limited amount of knowledge to contribute to the community. I was drawn to Ask Different while seeking and later discovering a solution to a range of problems that feature in multiple questions on here.

The solution, however, is achieved by installing a single application, so I'm concerned that returning to all these questions with the recommendation of this single product will appear like astroturfing and raise suspicion, especially considering my lack of otherwise unrelated activity.

I am entirely unaffiliated with the application and its developer, and I would of course strive to answer the questions according to community guidelines in a relevant, individually tailored fashion.

Should I be concerned about being accused of astroturfing?

If I were accused, would I be afforded the opportunity to argue my case?

Does this scenario warrant the consideration of additional guidelines to avoid putting other, new users in the same dilemma?

Although the Ask Different Help Center's page on spamming does suggest I'm not at risk given my independence, the specific scenario is not addressed.

On another Ask Different Meta question, Daniel has suggested a help page for users charged with spamming who are seeking recourse:

I'd be more okay with a more aggressive anti-spam approach if we had a help page about "My message got deleted as spam but I wasn't trying to post spam. What happened and what can I do?"


For added context, other meta-discussions from various communities have emphasized volume, affiliation, seniority, recency, and relevance as factors in targeting astroturfing, factors among which many seem to stack up against my case:

Could we set out objective criteria for what is “spam” or “commercial promotion” here?

If a new, mostly unidentified, unregistered, 1-rep user posts an answer to an old question, and the answer mentions/links to a commercial product or service, or a sketchy blog/article linking to such, my shit-detector goes off. [by Chris W. Rea]

If a user's first post is to recommend software that actually is relevant to solving someone else's problem, I'm inclined to give the user the benefit of the doubt. Now if the same piece of shady software keeps popping up in first-post recommendations, if the user only recommends software in answers and nothing else[...], fire away. [by Daniel]

Is it appropriate to mention my product in a StackOverflow answer?

[...]it would also depend on the numbers; if [every] answer you post is a plug for your product, there is a chance you will get flagged as spam - and possibly even astro-turfing. [by Marc Gravell]

Astroturfing on Stack Overflow

[...]how can you tell the difference between an enthusiastic user and genuine astroturfing? In this case it was pretty obvious because the user had little content otherwise [...][by Kyle Cronin]

Old recommendation answer flags declined?

This user joined two days ago, and in that time has posted two answers. Both are late answers to old topics. The text of the two answers are word-for-word identical[...] The posts are not really off-topic, I will grant you that, but the motivation of the poster is clear. [by Ernest Friedman-Hill]

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    Thank you for a) answering on the main site b) realizing this might need some community discussion c) reading the help d) asking here. Well done on many fronts. I appreciate your care here very much. – bmike Apr 1 '18 at 15:24
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I would say - this is the perfect place to ask and make recommendations as long as you are here to answer all sorts of questions and help. When that happens, there's going to be lots of answers that have nothing to do with a specific product you may know and find useful.

The astroturfing / spamming is really for when an account only posts marketing blurb - endlessly and exclusively and you'll likely get some signal you're off bounds when those posts get comments / deleted / down voted. And then if it continues you could expect a personal message or a time out which would be very clear and explain for how long / why / who to discuss with.

So - in summary - we could look over the activity of an account (yours) to see what's up. I see two answers about Steer Mouse so you might want to explain in a comment if you made that app (and probably self disclose in the first or second paragraph of the answer if you do get paid by that app or service). You could also put that in your public profile.

As long as you don’t get paid to promote that app or are the developer, you should be fine as you answer all sorts of questions. If you ever are with a possibly conflict of interest - just make that clear you are a developer of X or the founder of X or work as support for X - that lets everyone know you're being open and might be biased so that the quality of the answers gets voted and not that you support product X and are here to shill it.

I voted up each of your posts since they:

  1. Answer precisely what the question asked
  2. Are not just "BUY THIS IT'S AWESOME"
  3. Are well worded (if a bit long)

In the future if you find you want to post the same answer to more than two questions - let's try to flag those questions as duplicates and merge it down - there really shouldn't be 10 answers that say the same thing to 10 different questions. Most of the people that get into trouble with astroturfing either miss the maintenance of the questions - don't close them or vote to close or the only thing they ever do is post on that one topic.

In this case, you clearly are editing the questions, making things better so I say keep up the work and check in after you have 5 or 10 answers posted or ask a follow on meta question if you run into any comments / disagreements you can't work out with someone on the main site.

The cleaning up of duplicate questions has started:

I probably could see one or two canonical questions - how do I get software or settings to change the native scrolling in general and a second question that narrows down how to get different curves for horizontal vs vertical. From there, we'll have dozens of questions on vendor X and how their software is [awesome|awful] since it changes things and people can have differing opinions that change Y is good or not. Most of these will then get closed to the main questions explaining how to manage / extend scrolling on the site. this will certainly be a community effort since any one person may make a mistake voting to close or curate these.

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    You raise some good points, namely that there will be due warning before permanent action is taken against an offending user's account with ample time to react and that the series of related questions can be conflated into a few, comprehensive canonical questions; that really gets to the heart of the issue, and in hindsight it is a more direct approach. I'm sure it will solve most other situations like this one. My next move was going to be a flagging-run to several of the questions you mention, so I'm glad you took the initiative. Thanks for the up-votes. I'm glad it was appreciated. – Magnus Lind Oxlund Apr 1 '18 at 19:56

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