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The user Jennifer Kain Kilgore has been adding answers to old questions that include one or more links to her personal legal practice site https://www.enjuris.com and she does not disclose her affiliation.

It's common to link to sites such as Nolo, FindLaw, Justia (some of which are commercial sites) for reference, as well as government, university and non-profit sites.

But what is LSE's policy on personal and for-profit links? Should LSE be a link farm for personal practices? (I know that SE as a whole adds "no follow" to links in questions to not give an SEO boost to the site).

SE Meta covers this at Are links to non-commercial endeavors spam? as an amplification of https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/promotion

What are acceptable links links to personal or company/corporate sources? Should the links be edited?

What about for-profit sites such as FindLaw, among others, which offers legal references but also is a commercial directory for attorneys?

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We have not yet developed a Law.SE-specific policy on these. What follows is my personal proposal and reasoning.

As a general rule, I think we should point people to the guidance at https://meta.stackexchange.com/help/promotion. I also like the idea of alerting answerers via comment to the fact that link promotion here will not help their SEO.

For nuance I would break the "self-promotional link" question into three categories:

  1. Links that support a good answer. If somebody provides a good answer, and they link to content that provides support for the answer, no need to consider further. I don't care whether people get directly paid for content if the content is good. Here is an answer that was voted helpful, and that links to self-promotional content that is also helpful to the answer.
  2. Links that provide credibility to the answerer. This attorney popped onto the site a few times and posted helpful but short answers to hard immigration questions. Initially he signed each answer and hyperlinked his signature to his professional site. Stack Exchange norms do not tolerate this, so he was encouraged to move the signature to his profile. But he also hasn't been back. I think it would have been better to leave those links in his answers for two reasons:
    1. It's better to have a terse, helpful answer whose only support is, "I am a licensed expert" than to have no answer at all (or a wrong answer by somebody else).
    2. Most attorneys are wary of participating in sites like this. But the more licensed attorneys we have spending time here the better. Therefore, I am willing to tolerate gratuitous self-promotion in exchange for helpful content.
  3. All other links that are not clearly spam. The problem with my suggestion for the second case might be that it's a slippery slope to unhelpful content. However, I think that our existing systems of downvoting unhelpful answers are adequate to deal with this. Especially when compounded with some notice links here won't boost SEO.
  • I feel like we're approaching links from the wrong direction. Links are meant to cite information - providing gateways to learn more, while affirming the credibility of an answer. People may link to their own sources because 1) They are part of a credible organization which provides information relevant to the question 2) They may have already written about the topic before, and their writing may include other relevant information. I don't think it is right to assume that the majority influence behind including links is solely for self-promotion. If this is our attitude, we discourage citing.. – Zizouz212 Feb 15 '17 at 3:39
  • sources in our answers. Of course, links also need to be seen in context. Is it a signature? Are the sentenced structured just so that the author of the answer can sneak a link in to their law firm? Those situations would break the rules. But for websites that are being linked in answers to provide credibility to the information, or provide gateways to learn more show us that the answer wasn't made for personal promotion. That's the primary reason why I take issue with comment - unless it is excessive, and we have reason to believe that self promotion is taking place, it's not an issue. – Zizouz212 Feb 15 '17 at 3:41
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    Otherwise, I think that we need to take advantage of moderation powers and edit them out, and if there is opposition or it continues, send a moderator message that clearly outlines why self-promotion doesn't work using the no-follow argument. Placing comments on posts means that we're making people guilty before innocent without knowing what's going on, and we as a community will come across as harsh and aggressive, contributing to a culture that none of us will want in the long-term. – Zizouz212 Feb 15 '17 at 3:43
  • You know what... Maybe I'll just write an answer of my own :) – Zizouz212 Feb 15 '17 at 3:44
  • @Zizouz212 – I agree that the "links here don't help SEO" comment I linked to (since deleted) seemed aggressive. Maybe it's not possible to use comments to caution people against self-promotion without appearing hostile or accusatory. One problem is that if the post seems self-promotional and it's not addressed nicely by one person in the comments, then other users are going to post comments, suggest edits, and flag the question (... repeatedly). – feetwet Feb 15 '17 at 13:49
  • @feetwet: why did you delete my "self-links don't help SEO" comment? I replaced it. The user is low rep, is adding answers to old questions already answered, and adding her promo link inline; this is very typical of someone farming for SEO, and they need to know it. I have flagged these answers/links in the past and nothing was done. BTW, I know the SE territory and how to comment and moderate and flag; I have a rep of 25K+ on SE under another account. – BlueDogRanch Feb 15 '17 at 20:20
  • @BlueDogRanch: looks like jimsug deleted it after at least one other person flagged it as hostile. I was hoping we could find some sort of "nice" way of communicating that, but I thought your comment was better than nothing, and to me your new one is even more collegial. – feetwet Feb 15 '17 at 20:22
  • @BlueDogRanch Why are you assuming that the user is including links solely for the purpose of SEO? Did they tell you? Otherwise, I believe that you are being unfairly aggressive, in the sense that you are assuming their position, and not listening to their perspective. Typical or not, you're making an accusation. – Zizouz212 Feb 15 '17 at 23:18
  • @Zizouz212 Yes, it's a cynical assumption. But if (hypothetically ;) a user includes a link to their site in every post, and half of their posts are "late answers" that are voted unhelpful, it doesn't seem to me like an unreasonable assumption. – feetwet Feb 15 '17 at 23:27
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I don't see why self-promotional links need different thought applied.

  • If a link is additional to or directly supports a good answer, it's a good link. Leave it there. Upvote if the answer is worth your upvote too.

  • If the link forms the majority of the answer, or does not add to/support a good answer, it's a bad link. Edit to remove unhelpful or irrelevant content. Downvote for being a bad answer. Possibly flag for VLQ or NAA.

  • The "bad link" category becomes spam when it is also self-promoting. Flag as spam.

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If it's spam, flag it. As per What are the “spam” and “rude or abusive” (offensive) flags, and how do they work?:

A post should be marked as spam ONLY when it contains an unsolicited advertisement.

As for all non-spam links, I don't see a reason to depart from established protocol here:

Limits for self-promotion in answers

Post good, relevant answers, and if they happen to be about your product, so be it. However you must disclose your affiliation with the product in your answers.

There's no reason why this can't apply to links as well. However, the answers must be able to stand on their own - that is, the answer, even if not all the reasoning for it, must be able to be understood without having to refer to the content in the link. For example:

Why is the sky blue?

Bad: See this link


Good: The UCR site explains this well:

A clear cloudless day-time sky is blue because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light. When we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colours because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight.

For more information, see this link: link

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