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Hello lobsterians,

The question is simple: should we have a marketing tag (I’d prefer to totally not have any marketing here but I don’t know everyone else’s opinion).

This post was triggered by a post (https://lobste.rs/s/gliewl/pilosa), just the name as a title and the direct link to the website.

It was upvoted, so the community is not enough to fence off from these posts.

Also this is an extreme, of course, but I’ve seen lots of posts being littered with “but we at XYZ do things differently, we do A, B and C!”, which should also count as marketing.

What do you all think? If someone wants those in their feed, so be it, but I’d love to have a way to filter out ads from lobste.rs.

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    I don’t want to normalize marketing material. I’m worried that making a tag will make people more likely to post stuff that doesn’t belong.

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      Agreed, obviously.

      Another post like this is basically just a product page.

      The problem with these things is that they tend to attract upvotes by people going “oh neat” (like they would do at the orange site or Reddit or wherever) and then they’re very hard to dislodge.

      My only suggestion is to complain loudly, persistently, in every comments section where they come up for the encouragement of others.

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        I agree: no marketing tag, please.

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          Yeah, that makes sense. But I wonder what steps we could take to properly flag these posts.

          It is normally not too difficult to distinguish a post with heavy marketing from another (or in the case of my example, just a lazy link dump).

          So, what else?

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            You seem too worried about how to get low-vote content off the front page. It will fall off or disappear on its own if people submit better content. So, just submit better content and/or upvote better things in Recent if the front page looks unsatisfactory.

            Since you brought it up, I’m the one that upvoted it. There was a lot of non-in-depth stuff on the front page which included marketing and ideology. It was late Friday or into Saturday where we rarely have in-depth content. I already did my submission to try to improve things. So, I look at Recent. I didn’t quite get how the design differences in that submission might play out in different applications. I figured that someone might ignore the marketing crap to discuss the data structures or whatever in this database along with other use cases.

            Hey, look at that. The discussion almost happened.

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              This is a totally fair point but also posting for the sake of posting doesn’t sound good either.

              Whenever I publish something which could be useful to someone else, I try to share it here.

              I was just asking whether we could do something about these, especially when people like you might upvote an obvious ad just for the sake of a possible discussion in the comments.

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                Someone here once pointed out the people that do metas about what should be allowed dont submit a lot of quality content themselves. That if they instead were doing that the articles they didnt like might get little to no views having been outcompeted.

                I see you have about two submissions in four months. You and like-minded people here could just submit more of the stuff you’d like to see. Grab a pile of interesting articles. Trickle them out over time. Then, I could upvote them instead. It helps that stuff from one day stays on for the next day pretty often with small number of slots on front page.

                Meanwhile, there wasn’t much good stuff, only a small number of people actually contributed content, some were good, and I had a series of lower-impact articles left to work with in Recent. Seems the problem is the reader/contributor ratio as usual for these sites. I’ll upvote better articles if you and everyone that agrees with you submits them here. I usually do on yours if I see them.

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                  It helps that stuff from one day stays on for the next day pretty often with small number of slots on front page.

                  Which is exactly why marketing material is so harmful. :(

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                    It topped out at 1 or 2 and was barely noticeable due to the “more votes for better stuff” effect I described. So, I’m not seeing the grave harm if more people just submit more good content.

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          There are people marketing their own services on lobste.rs too with posts that are best described as info-mercials. These are not quite spam because often the writers engage in the community but they clearly have a selling aspect. It feels harsh to mark them as spam but they are not a disinterested, “here’s all the information for the greater good” type posts. They tend to be “Heres some stuff, but for the rest, you have to pay me”. I’d like a tag we can use to mark it out. Perhaps use “infomercial” rather than “marketing”?

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            Yeah, not sure if engaging should count in support of an “infomercial” submission, since also projecting the author’s personality can also be used as a planned marketing strategy.

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              So where do you draw the line then? Let’s take this to the full extent: if a person ever engaged in commercial activity, or might at some point in the future, their submissions should be treated as infomercials. That doesn’t sound practical.

              But even putting that aside, I don’t support this idea of an infomercial tag at all.

              Take @hwayne as an example. He writes beautiful in-depth posts about formal methods. It would be totally unfair to label them infomercials just because he offers consulting in the same area.

              As another example, I submitted a post about my open source static site generator at one point. Because it’s on the same site where I sell a book, it would be an infomercial, right? I might be engaging in marketing! But take the book association out, and suddenly it’s perfectly on topic.

              In some situations, the commercial context is what allows the content to be created in the first place, so it’s myopic to be against any commercial association. After all, the vast majority of us live in circumstances where we have to spend most of our time earning money. If somebody figured out how to leverage that time to also share their knowledge or code or whatever, isn’t it a great thing that should be encouraged?

              Sure, some posts are written primarily as a low effort promotional vehicle, but then they just won’t be upvoted.

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                A post is a universe of its own, the website it is published on, in my opinion, doesn’t matter since, as you said, people do other things for a living other than writing articles.

                But I think the concept of “people will just downvote” or “submit more good content” is just flawed mainly because some people do upvote these kinds of low-ish effort submissions, even though we all seem to agree on them not being wanted.

                Anyway, I just wanted to start a discussion about this issue but people seem more okay than I am to just scroll past marketing content, maybe it’s just me.

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            Would you have wanted to use your marketing tag on it if the submitted link was https://github.com/pilosa/pilosa with the title it has there?

            Next to the usual information Github extracts, it includes links to an explanation of the data model and query language and links to the implicit forecast offering collaboration under terms that are inbound=outbound.

            The vote on a submission conflates multiple things. Among others it contains the presentation of the topic in the submission and the care of the submitter to select the correct link and title for the topic. If everyone voting agreed on all aspects, but not how to collapse those into one vote, then the overall vote score becomes less useful to gauge usefulness to everyone.

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              Well, a straight up link to a repository of a commercial product is still marketing.

              Though an article explaining in detail the implementation of such product, without any obvious “call to action”, would be in an acceptable gray zone, in my opinion.