1. 5

I’ve noticed in the recent months that some submissions have received negative comments when they had any form of commercial activity associated with them. A recent post I made about MNT Reform finally launching their crowdfunding campaign was a post that received such feedback. I felt quite odd about it because other posts about the same machine were quite well received and people appeared quite excited looking forward to crowdfunding campaign. There were other similar examples.

What I wanted to know is how people here feel about doing “Show Lobsters” posts about projects you create that are commercial. I’m asking this because I enjoy writing books and have released both FOSS and commercial programming books in the past. Recently I’ve been wanting to transition from freelancing to book writing and can see more commercial books in my future. I know that simply sharing the URL to a book buy page is not what this site is all about, but I’m sure that while I’m writing the book I’ll discover some cool stuff that will become blog posts and articles, which might tie into a book. I’m afraid of sharing such posts here and people vote it down simply because it tie back to some commercial book I’m writing.

When you’re doing personal projects which are content focused, it is a bit hard to find what is acceptable as a post or not. TBH at the moment I don’t have anything book related to share, but I though it would be prudent to have a conversation here before I go crazy writing a post that can’t be shared.


  2. 3

    Personally I think one “I made something”-announcement is okay; especially if it’s from someone who has been participating (even low-key) for at least a little bit.

    I don’t like general “we added feature X to product Y” much; that just seems like advertisement to me, but there are some exceptions if “feature X” is especially interesting. I don’t mind “how we solved problem X in product Y” posts much either if the content is genuinely interesting.

    It’s really hard to make a comprehensive policy about stuff like this, but the short of it is “make sure the content is actually interesting”. Of course, different people have different views on what is “interesting”.

    For example, I flagged “SourceHut + Plan 9”-post as spam as it’s an uninteresting post about a minor feature. I guess it’s interesting if you’re a sourcehut user and/or are interested in sourcehut, but I’m not, so 🤷‍♂️ I would not have downvoted (and perhaps even upvoted) a more interesting post, for example one that detailed how Plan 9 works, how Plan 9 support was added to sourcehut, or something similar.

    1. 3

      I’m heavily against it, especially if you’re a relatively new account and haven’t participated in the community much.

      The incentive structure is just too heavily aligned not to converge to abuse.

      Posting here is an ask on the time of everybody who has to skim through the frontpage or the new page, an ask on the moderators, an ask on the commentators to engage, and so on and so forth.

      It’s pretty shitty to take advantage of that to hawk wares, but it’s the obvious business thing to do. That’s why we as a community need to nip it in the bud.

      1. 1

        I’ve noticed that you and I disagree a lot on this site and it was because your reply on my last post that I decided to make this question at this time. I want to avoid displeasing as much as possible, we all like this community. We do disagree on many things though. For example when you say:

        Posting here is an ask on the time of everybody

        I find that unrealistic. There is a lot of content here that doesn’t interest me but I’m not mad they they are being posted. I don’t feel they waste my time when I skim through them. I hope that said content is useful to other people even though I couldn’t care less. There is no pleasing everyone.

        I agree with you that simply slapping a marketing page for a product is bad, but sometimes that needs to be seen in context of previous conversations. This is a community and often the community will be interested in some technology that will be commercial.

        But my question is not about submitting marketing pages here. It is about things I know you like such as interesting programming posts, or stories about overcoming some hardware related challenges. I think we both like those. Every single book author will place headers or footers on their site with their latest books. So when viewing a blog post, you might see a footer or a header that is drawing attention to their latest offering. Do you really think that is bad? Because if that is the case, no book author can ever post here.

        1. 1

          Please make sure and read my earlier note on this, and keep that context in mind as I reply here.

          The problem isn’t a really good article or blog post (possibly even excerpt chapter) from a book with a footer that mentions “Hey, I’m also writing a book, subscribe for updates!”. That’s a little annoying to me personally but is otherwise harmless, and we’ve got Lobsters here (like @hwayne and their TLA+ book) that have done that.

          The problem is people who crank out blog posts that don’t really do anything other drive traffic to their e-books and then use attach to us to get that traffic. This is content marketing.

          A trivial way to stop this is to flag any posts that could drive such traffic, since then we aren’t attractive as a place to dump those posts. That being the case, submitted posts are more likely then to be based on some “oh this is neat I want to share it” instead of “if I submit this I might get a few extra book sales”. That’s my logic at least.

          And honestly, if you wouldn’t write a blog post unless you could shill your book in it, I think your priorities may align more with commerce than education–and that’s fine, and there are other, larger venues like the Orange Site that’d be happy to have you.

          1. 2

            The problem is people who crank out blog posts that don’t really do anything other drive traffic to their e-books and then use attach to us to get that traffic. This is content marketing.

            I totally agree with you in regards to that. I don’t like content marketing at all.

            And honestly, if you wouldn’t write a blog post unless you could shill your book in it.

            I’ve been doing the opposite to be honest. I never mention my books in my posts, and I’ve trying to post more because it is something that I really enjoy doing. The recent stuff has been mostly slice of life posts, so I didn’t thought they were interesting enough to post here. But if you check my posts that are from my own site (andregarzia.com), you’ll see that I never plugged any of commercial products. I don’t agree with posts just to drive people to your products. That is dirty cheap. I did post about some of my own FOSS projects though.

            What worried me is that I listed in my notebook a series of posts I’d like to do. They are not related to any book but I have a book coming out soon and will probably alter the footer of my site to have a link to it once it is out. I didn’t knew how this would be received. Another thing I’ve been thinking about is releasing some new open source books but encourage donations, I also don’t know how this is received here.

            I thought others might be wondering about such things too and that was good enough reason to post.

      2. 2

        Great topic, I think it’s clear folks have different backgrounds and approaches so it’s worth discussing thoroughly to inform our policies.

        1. 1

          I remember that thread. I enjoy doing content, mostly little blog posts and am thinking about selling more books in the near future. I think that the problem of clickbait articles for content marketing is real. I just wonder where the line is drawn. An interesting programming blog post in a site that also contains a link to buy $FAMOUS_BLOG_OWNER book is bad? Because a blogger will change their site headers or footer to contain their latest book, that is very common for book authors.