As a relative newcomer, I ask this question in all earnestness. I’m trying to understand the substance and spirit of the existing rules and culture here. I have no preconception of how they ought to be. Here are the current submission guidelines from the tags and topicality section of the about page:
Lobsters is focused pretty narrowly on computing; tags like art don’t imply every piece of art is on-topic. Some rules of thumb for great stories to submit: Will this improve the reader’s next program? Will it deepen their understanding of their last program? Will it be more interesting in five or ten years?
Some things that are off-topic here but popular on larger, similar sites: entrepreneurship, management, news about companies that employ a lot of programmers, investing, world events, anthropology, self-help, personal productivity systems, last-resort customer service requests via public shaming, “I wanted to see what this site’s amazing users think about this off-topic thing”, and defining the single morally correct economic and political system for the entire world when we can’t even settle tabs vs. spaces.
That seems to leave some wiggle room for commercial product releases that are otherwise topical. But then this language in the ranking section casts some doubt:
For stories, these are: “Off-topic” for stories that are not about computing; “Already Posted” for duplicate submissions and links that elaborate on or responses to a thread that’s less than a week old (see merging); and “Broken Link” for links that 404, 500, or present a paywall; “Spam” for links that promote a commercial service.
Does submitting a link to an article about the commercial software written by someone who doesn’t work there make it topical/not-spam?