I gave an answer today, being just a software recommendation, to a question, asking for a recommendation. It's now deleted, so here are the contents:

It exists and is called muCommander

   brew cask install mucommander 

For OS X knowing that the software is in the Homebrew is a full answer. It means that it's free, that one can install it with the command above, can read about it with brew cask info mucommander and also open homepage, upgrade and uninstall with appropriate commands.

I understood that it's quite short by the SE standards, but had no idea of what to add. Any speculations about pros and cons would be subjective, and giving a full usage guide seemed absolutely off-topic.

The answer recieved +1-2 votes and a comment, proposing that I should improve it according to the software recommendation guideline. (I need some advice on improving my answer, and I've asked a separate question about that.) Then, as I understand now, it was flagged as spam and deleted by a moderator.

So, what was so exceptional about my answer that a moderator had to intervene and delete it? I remember it clearly that a moderator is not supposed to handle ordinary situations.

Replying to the "any unsolicited advertisement is considered as spam." in comments:

I failed to find this definition of spam. Here's what is shown in the flagging menu:

enter image description here

The Help Center > How to not be a spammer says

...you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

Again, I'm not the author or proprietor and I don't get any benefits from the link.

Here's the definition of unsolicited:

adjective 1. given or supplied without being requested or asked for:
unsolicited advice.

The OP asks to recommend a software, so the answers essentially have to provide links. How exactly is my answer unsolicited?

It was definitely not spam. It might have been a bad answer, but not spam.

So, the flag was a mistake here. It would require 5 more users to approve that it is actually spam and then the Community user would delete the answer (as having 6 spam votes). It is a normal moderation process on any SE site. I don't see how it requires a ♦ moderator.

Here are my questions to Sathya♦:

  1. Please provide a link to the page on the Help Center or elsewhere in the SE, defining spam as "any unsolicited advertisment".
  2. Please explain how can a thing, explicitly asked for, indeed be unsolicited?
  3. Please explain how should I disclose my affiliation, when I have no affiliation at all?

Thank you in advance for your answers.

I understand that it all looks like too much whine from a newcomer on the site. Sorry for that. But I'm an established user on two StackOverflow's and I've read through the whole help center and almost all of Community FAQ (had to because I'm taking part in translating FAQs). I know the definitions of good answer, good moderation and spam. Nothing of it was present in this case.

  • It's actually two questions in one. If it's not appropriate, please tell me and I will ask a second question. Aug 31, 2015 at 10:33
  • considering your answer was flagged as spam, it is an exceptional situation. also you should be able to edit your answer, flag it for opening. I'll have a longer answer soon.
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Aug 31, 2015 at 10:39
  • @Sathya it could be spam if I was the developer of muCommander which I am not. Moreover, 6 spam-votes of ordinary users are enough to delete spam, so spam is hardly ever exceptional. Aug 31, 2015 at 11:36
  • any unsolicited advertisement is considered as spam. Doesn't inspire confidence in an answer when it's just a link. Bulk of the spam is of that sort(and that most users don't notice is because they are cleaned up).
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Aug 31, 2015 at 11:49
  • "It was definitely not spam. It might have been a bad answer" - Without seeing the answer, its debatable if it was spam or not, but if all you did was provide a link to the answer then it was going to be deleted anyways by the community for quality reasons. We except answers to be more then "try this software".
    – Ramhound
    Aug 31, 2015 at 13:23
  • @Ramhound: you have enough reputation to see deleted answers, don't you? As of answers, I'd just been told that you also expect questions to be more than "what software should I try?". Looks like I just supported a bad question, which I should instead have flagged as offtopic. Aug 31, 2015 at 13:25
  • @NickVolynkin - No; I do not have enough reputation. If I had enough reputation I wouldn't have indicated I didn't view it. Reputation required to see deleted questions and answers are clearly documented though.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 31, 2015 at 13:29
  • @Ramhound: oh, my apologies, it requires 10k rep to see. I have added it to the question. The issue is not whether it was bad — I know it was. But it was not spam. I'm arguing the moderator's intervention, which in my opinion was erroneous and resulted in a bad record on my profile. Aug 31, 2015 at 13:36
  • 1
    @NickVolynkin - You were going to receive downvotes regardless for quality reasons, You never indicated if you addressed the feedback, in my personal experience, if your answers are appearing in the review queue that isn't a good sign.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 31, 2015 at 14:35
  • Related: meta.superuser.com/questions/2592/…
    – bwDraco
    Sep 1, 2015 at 1:22
  • @Ramhound: I improved my answer a lot and made an undelete-request, which, unforturately, was rejected with "not to worry, this whole question is to be deleted as it is out of scope entirely". Sep 2, 2015 at 8:57

3 Answers 3


You've changed the question since it was first posted, I don't know which to address so I'll consider the revision that is latest at the time of writing this.

Is answering to a software recommendation request considered spam?

No, it's not. Putting a bare link, however is considered as spam. If you don't believe we have a spam problem, consider this post. All spam answers follow the same routine: a bare link which often, but not always relates to the question.

First off, the question itself was pretty bad fit for Super User and was on the lines of "why isn't this there?"

if you want a model answer that would not have been spam flagged, look at the other answer. It is not immediately obvious you're not affiliated to the software(evident by the fact that it was spam flagged) and we've had people mention clearly they are not affiliated to the software they are recommending. That goes a long way, especially if you're new to a community.

What was so exceptional about my answer that a moderator had to intervene and delete it?

Um, the fact that it was spam flagged and come upon the Moderator's queue of flagged posts? I'm not here looking at every post to see which post has to be [spam] flagged, I leave that to the Community. The fact that it was flagged and brought to my notice is what made me intervene.

Again, I'm not the author or proprietor and I don't get any benefits from the link.

This isn't obvious from your answer.

The OP asks to recommend a software, so the answers essentially have to provide links. How exactly is my answer unsolicited?

You read the software recommendation guide and haven't updated it per the guidelines mentioned there, sorry to say this is bound to happen.

To your questions:

  1. Already addressed above.
  2. You weren't explicit enough in disclosing that you aren't the author. A newly registered user, posting a bare link as the first answer is enough to set off alarm bells.
  3. Because it is not obvious there is no affiliation?

I know the definitions of good answer, good moderation and spam.

Evidently, you don't - at least not with what is considered as a best answer and spam, at least wrt what the SU Community expects.

Nothing of it was present in this case.

I disagree with this, if you consider you were unfairly acted upon, you're free to take it up with Stack Exchange Community Managers or other Moderators.

Side notes:

  1. Even though it was flagged as spam, I did not accept the spam flag, primarily because you're a member elsewhere and have used the site long enough to get an association bonus. I considered the answer as a bad answer which you agree with:

    It might have been a bad answer, but not spam.

    else you'd have been hit with a 100-rep penalty. I merely deleted the post

  2. This post was not only spam flagged, it also appeared on the low quality post review queue where David Postill left a comment on your answer about tips on How to recommend a software, which was not addressed when I took action on the post.

  • 3
    You deleted the answer in around 7 minutes from the time when I read the comment. How do you expect me to read the guide, gather information and improve my answer in this time? If you wouldn't intervene, I'd have time to make an edit or delete it by myself. Aug 31, 2015 at 16:24
  • "if you want a model answer that would not have been spam flagged, look at the other answer." — I don't see where it is better than mine. How does in answer points 5 and 6 of the guideline?. Does it disclose affiliation? No. It just has more text. Aug 31, 2015 at 16:29
  • I actually found that the question was deleted by posting a "thank you" comment to David Postill. It's very disappointing that you assume bad intentions and do not allow me to thank for pointing at my mistakes and to fix them by myself. Aug 31, 2015 at 16:36
  • 1
    @NickVolynkin - where you see software recommendation request in that question? It is asking for reasons of (not) creating Total Commander at OS X. I found and posted the reasons, not a software recommendation. There is a different StackExchange site for software recommendations. If someone asks for software recommendation at the Super User, flag the question as off-topic and recommend that person to ask at softwarerecs.stackexchange.com
    – miroxlav
    Sep 1, 2015 at 21:12
  • @NickVolynkin - The very fact you were making a software recommendation, and not making it a good answer, is the entire point. If you are going to post an software recommendation, you better know, how to do it the correct way or simply don't do it. As others have pointed out, the question was a bad question, best to leave low-quality questions to the fate of the review queue. Of course there is the entire problem, the question wasn't even asking for a software recommendation, so you answer B when the the author of the question asking for A.
    – Ramhound
    Sep 2, 2015 at 11:12
  • 7
    "You weren't explicit enough in disclosing that you aren't the author." I'm pretty sure the "must disclose" rule is only directed at those that actually are affiliated with the product or service they're linking to. I've seen plenty of posts with text like "Full disclosure: I work for Company X" but I don't think I've ever seen one that said "Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with Company X in any way". I think things would start to look very silly indeed, if every recommendation post required such a disclaimer in the negative case as well as the positive. Sep 8, 2015 at 15:16
  • @DanHenderson crux of the matter is that if you're going to bother to put in only a bare link and nothing else as content, it will be considered as spam. With this in context, I mentioned "you weren't explicit enough in disclosing that you aren't the author."
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Sep 8, 2015 at 15:55
  • @DanHenderson, while this is true, it is a Catch 22 if you aren't allowed to say you aren't affiliated, but you can be flagged as spam for not disclosing your affiliation. Reminds me of a book featuring witch hunts. "If one is deemed guilty because he denies the accusation, how can an innocent man defend himself?" There's nothing wrong with saying, "I'm not affiliated, but I've used the product briefly and it seems to do what you want," or similar.
    – Wildcard
    Sep 28, 2016 at 7:28
  • @Wildcard I wasn't suggesting that one shouldn't be allowed to indicate a lack of affiliation, but rather that one shouldn't be obligated to do so. Sep 28, 2016 at 7:40
  • @DanHenderson, agreed. :)
    – Wildcard
    Sep 28, 2016 at 7:52

In many cases, software recommendations are not a question of spam.

Instead, product recommendations are off-topic at the SuperUser site (see the last bullet point in second list). If someone clearly asks for recommending software for a task

  1. flag the question as off-topic

  2. give them friendly advice to search (and maybe ask) at Software Recommendations StackExchange site – softwarerecs.stackexchange.com.
    EDIT (thanks @DavidPostill): Before posting there, they should read What is required for a question to contain "enough information".

    • there is 6200+ Q&A's already there – we are not going to duplicate their work here at the SuperUser

This way you are actually helping the OP to ask at the right community where their question has potential to obtain answers of higher quality and in shorter time.

Regarding your deleted answer. I think it was a good candidate for flagging as "not an answer" because the OP wasn't asking about software recommendation. So I believe in this case you misread the question.


Spam is supposed to be used for blatant advertising.

Your answer was not spam - and you're right, people should not be flagging as spam - but it was a low-quality answer, and was removed as such.

  • I have improved it and flagged for undeletion, but the moderator replied that "the question is getting deleted anyway". But it hasn't been deleted yet. Sep 13, 2015 at 18:29
  • Did you flag the question?
    – oldmud0
    Sep 13, 2015 at 18:30
  • sure, did it on August 31st. Sep 13, 2015 at 18:31
  • Ping the mod, then..
    – oldmud0
    Sep 13, 2015 at 18:32
  • the mod rejected my flag, saying "not to worry, this whole question is to be deleted as it is out of scope entirely". I've made a gist out of the proposed edit: gist.github.com/NickVolynkin/93252709dec802a3842e Sep 13, 2015 at 18:36
  • what's your view of it? Would it be deleted if it was the first version of my answer? Sep 13, 2015 at 18:38

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