11

The FAQ currently pretty strongly discourages promoting things in responses, and requires that affiliations be disclosed when doing so. I realized I hadn't done that in a response and went back and fixed it, but I'm wondering whether or not that makes sense. I expect that many active participants in the OD Stack Exchange will be employees/volunteers/otherwise affiliated with organizations that provide either open data, code for dealing with open data, or both, and a big part of the value we/they can provide is to inform the public about what we make available. Since a lot of us are non-profits who give our stuff away for free, we also don't really stand to tangibly benefit if our recommendations convince people to use our resources, so it doesn't seem like the same conflicts are necessarily present here as they are on Stack Overflow, where I suspect this FAQ question/response originated.

Thoughts?

7

Affiliation disclosure is required for good reason. If you're simply providing technical support, affiliation becomes less of an issue. But if you are recommending a product or service, there's little down-side to requiring that everyone simply provide full disclosure right there, front-and-center in their answer. This avoids the whole issue of raising accusations to separate good-faith recommendations from bad.

It's not really an issue of whether folks are personally benefiting from their recommendations or not. It simply provides an uniform, public context as to the source of your "expertise." When disclosure is required, it helps dispel any appearance of astroturfing in the canon being built here.

The affiliation rule simply applies equally all.

Open Data > FAQ > May I promote products or websites I am affiliated with here?

Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

If a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free community promotion ads for open source projects and non-profit organizations.

  • This is perfectly reasonable... I guess my concern is that there will be a lot of people on this SE who only answer in their capacity as non-profit or government data providers or code providers (which is what's expected, since lots of the questions will be "does anyone have X data?"), such that many, or even most, answers will probably be required to include disclosure, which seems like it will have the potential to add lots of noise. – Andrew Pendleton May 13 '13 at 15:44
  • Also, at least so far, it seems like this convention hasn't been enforced, and there are lots of people answering without disclosing affiliations -- should we be flagging them? – Andrew Pendleton May 13 '13 at 15:45
  • @AndrewPendleton Do you have an example where you suspect a hidden agenda? Flagging all answers without disclosed affiliations doesn't seem constructive. – Patrick Hoefler May 13 '13 at 15:47
  • 1
    No, there's no hidden agenda per se. I've suggested a couple of Sunlight datasets in responses and am a Sunlight employee; Jeanne Holm has mentioned some US government-provided datasets in responses and is (if I'm not mistaken) an evangelist on the Data.gov team; Clay Johnson shared some Whitehouse.gov data and is a recent Presidential Innovation Fellow, etc. I don't personally find any of these to be problematic, with or without disclosure, but if that FAQ response is meant to actually be the rule, we're not doing a great job of complying/enforcing compliance so far. – Andrew Pendleton May 13 '13 at 16:11
  • 1
    Agreed. When posting on something that references your work, you should add the affiliation clearly inside the text of the question or answer (I've started doing this now based on this thread). Having that affiliation in your profile is also useful. – Jeanne Holm May 15 '13 at 19:56
0

I'm guilty, too (but I made it clear that I developed this data set). I think the guidance on the FAQs page for the site is helpful (I'm not insinuating that you disagree, I'm just sharing for everyone's benefit):

May I promote products or websites I am affiliated with here?

Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

If a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free community promotion ads for open source projects and non-profit organizations.

Not every question will be about the open data we all deal with, ideally we will also answer questions that do not involve any self-promotion. But even if we do, I think it is fine so long as it is disclosed.

  • You clearly stated that you created the dataset. You listed it last. It's free to use. Won't get much better :) – Patrick Hoefler May 13 '13 at 15:52
  • By the way: Under which license did you release your dataset? Couldn't find any information on your web page. – Patrick Hoefler May 13 '13 at 15:53
  • 1
    It's academic - so pretty much none. Just use it and cite it. – Dan May 13 '13 at 18:46
  • 1
    (+1 for pun on academic. Levity and meta can coexist!) – Roger_S May 14 '13 at 2:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .