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I frequently run against an issue when submitting stories from Ferrous Systems here: I think there’s an ambiguity around the use of the author field and I have the gut feeling there’s different information needs here.

As an example, this story is written by Jorge, not me: https://lobste.rs/s/f2uvgf/structuring_testing_debugging

Strictly speaking, I am not the author - so if the author field is just there to mark the author in the replies, I should not check it.

But I am a managing employee/owner of that company. So I’d like to disclose that - even though I think the content is relevant for this platform and interesting - I have an interest in it being posted here. I am not ashamed of doing so, but it feels bad to not to be open about this - it enables readers to give feedback on that front. This is crucial, as I e.g. do not just submit every post here.

The submission guidelines are no help here and probably be extended.

I see multiple possible solutions here:

  1. This is fine and needs no action and the author field should not be checked
  2. This is fine and needs no action and the author field should be checked
  3. This could be disclosed in the text field becomes part of the submission guidelines
  4. Adding an additional field that gives precisely that information to people
  5. ? Maybe others

I know that there’s people who’d prefer if this case just wouldn’t exist :). Yet, I believe disclosure is the best way to deal with this situation - it enables us to actively work against e.g. people who use lobste.rs as a content spreader only.

FWIW, I’m willing to send patches if e.g. the moderators here have a favourite.

[x] I am the author of this text ;)


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    One idea I’ve had was making author actually an ID field that can refer to a different person. That way, I could see all posts authored by someone, even if I or someone else submitted them.

    Alternatively, author could be an enum of “unrelated”, “coworker”, “friend”, “personal stake”, “author”.

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      I would very much like to be able to submit stories written by other members in a way that indicates that they deserve both the authorial credit and also any karma from upvotes. Similarly, it would be nice to be able to suggest an author. I can imagine ways to abuse that, though, so it needs more consideration.

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      As far as I’m concerned content should be judged purely on the merit of the content; who submitted it is mostly irrelevant. I see the “author” field purely as an informational field, so that (potential) commenters know they’re actually talking to the author of the piece, and I don’t really see it as a “disclosure” field.

      I don’t care if people “spam” their blogs – company blogs or otherwise – as long as you’re actually posting interesting on-topic content (and within some bounds of reason; e.g. every day would be too much). The problem with spammers is that they typically don’t have all that much interesting to say; people writing good content typically don’t need to resort to relentless spamming to get an audience.

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        I personally don’t think you should be submitting posts from your company blog at all, ideally another community member would organically post it themselves if it’s interesting enough. Or the actual author of the post.

        If you feel like you must promote your company blog, then I think you shouldn’t say you authored the post if you didn’t write it but you should also disclose your relationship with the company in a comment. I don’t think what you’re doing right now - saying you authored the post even though didn’t - sufficiently signals to readers the nature of the conflict and that the post is marketing for your company. There’s no need to add new site features for this either, a top-level comment on the story is sufficient.

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          I agree in principle, but if the content is good enough so that I don’t care that it’s on a company blog (this seems to be the case here), posting it (as not-the-author) is fine. So is an extra comment with “my coworker wrote this, happy to answer questions because *knowlede).

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            I see where your coming from but want to offer counterpoint.

            Not every person follows every blog. So the assumption that content will get posted if it’s good enough ignores the idea that different people have are tapped into different information networks due to their social experiences, whether it’s a job or an online community.

            I don’t see an inherent problem with posting content produced within the poster’s workplace. I don’t believe the stakes are remotely high enough on an aggregator site like this for there to be a conflict of interest. I also believe that on here, there’s no moral issue with a quality post coming from a company vs hobby blog, even considering the poster’s intent. There might be incidental issues, like a company blogging about ethically compromised tech, but that can be easily dealt with on a case by case basis.

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              Hard agree with all of this.

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              If blogs are being posted on behalf of the company, can’t help but feel that the author should be doing it themselves, rather than sending it off to another employee to post it. This makes it clear and unambiguous.

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                Could you tag it, but also add a comment stating your relationship to the post if you’re not the author? If you’re not the author, I think it’s worth elaborating how you know them and your relationship to the work. I don’t think a checkbox or enum can capture all the possibilities.

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                  This flag is somewhat related to the moral rights of an author, right.

                  From a user’s standpoint, if an article is submitted by the author I know/expect the author themselves to be part of the conversation here.

                  There’s something scummy feeling–in addition to the normal points about companies using us as a marketing outlet–about “I want to be able to post my minion’s work here and claim I’m the author/spokesperson”.

                  Invite them and have them post themselves, or just mention your relationship in the comments.