I don’t have a fundamental problem with someone mentioning their own product or company in a comment here. If you think your product is the best thing since sliced bread and there is a reasonable connection to the topic covered in the post, why not? if you don’t believe in your product, who will?

What does annoy me is when there is a comment along the lines of “I found this great product…” and when I click through from the commenter’s link, I find that it’s the commenter’s own product. As well as annoying me, that sort of deceptiveness shows that the person has not checked the publicly displayed comments policy here which says I reserve the right to delete comments which I deem to be “…transparent attempts to get traffic without providing any useful commentary”. Even more so when it is not transparent, when it is sneaky.

Hugh McLeod's 'Interesting Conversation'

“Interesting Conversation” by Hugh MacLeod, courtesy of a Creative Commons license

It’s a conversation we want here, not a way of providing anyone who comes along with a free soapbox to harangue us.

Please don’t tell us you “found” or “came across” a product when you are the company owner, or an affiliate, or a sales rep or the partner of one of the aforementioned interested parties.

But let’s say you are honest and upfront and say something like “my product, the XYZ widget, is the best in its class…” then you need to go one step further and add something useful to the conversation, such as why you developed it or what some of the issues are for people looking for that kind of product. In other words, contribute to the conversation. Then I’ll be more inclined to think, “OK, that’s a useful contribution, I’ll approve it”.

I don’t have to agree with you. But I don’t have to clutter the blog with spam either.

For people interested in the topic of comments on blog posts, which is probably most bloggers and also people with corporate responsibility for blog policy, there is an absorbing read to be had with Lorelle Van Fossen’s BlogHerald post The Liz Strauss Comment Counter Plugin Stirs Blog Controversy. She links there to John C. Dvorak’s equally absorbing What’s the value of online comments?

By the time I had read through what these eminent pundits had to say my brain was very stimulated, although frankly I was a tad confused about what would constitute best practice.

So it was somewhat of relief to find cartoonist blogger Dave Walker’s clear, non-nonsense policy on comments, including a handy list of “causes for exclusion”:

I reserve the right not to display comments for any of the following reasons or for any other reason I decide upon:

  • The comment contains language I deem inappropriate.
  • The comment is nonsensical.
  • The comment is expressed in a rude or aggressive tone.
  • The comment is posted with the main intention of advertising the author’s own website.
  • No genuine e-mail address is given.

Amen to that. And, to be frank, amen to the rider “or for any other reason I decide upon”.

Getting back to where this post started, just be honest. Contribute, don’t spam.

If you had a product and wanted your friends to buy it, would you say, “Erm, I came across this interesting product…” or “Hey, I have this great product for sale”? If you chose the former and they found you out, how good would that be for your friendship?

Lets’ respect the community of readers. Let’s not do what we wouldn’t do with friends.

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