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Quantum Computing SE is a site with different types of users - some work at companies (which is great!) and some write software that's used in quantum computing (which is also great!). While mentioning certain software will inevitably come up when answering questions on this site, we need to be careful that it doesn't foray into the territory of being considered as spam.

What is spam, anyway?

To quote this mother meta post:

[spam] advertises a product, service, or similar and is unsolicited or lacks disclosure.

What should you do as an answerer?

If you are an employee of some company, please say so when you write answers about their products. If you wrote a paper, please say so when you reference it in an answer. This sort of rule is very similar to the rule among scientific journals where you must disclose funding and similar. It is simply good practice.

We don't want your posts deleted. We simply ask that when you bring up stuff you are affiliated with, you explain how you are affiliated, and make sure that your work is relevant to the question. Otherwise, it is spam.

This post isn't meant to be a shame-fest for anyone, just a friendly reminder of guidelines for posting answers with work you are affiliated with.

What should you do as a reader?

If you come across a post that cites the OP's work without explicitly stating affiliation (this can of course can be hard to find, but in obvious cases) please do the following things:

  1. Edit in a disclosure for the person.
  2. Comment and explain to the person what you have done and why, if necessary linking to this meta post.
  3. If the writer of the answer attempts to rollback your edit, or similar, or if there is a pattern of this sort of answer by that user, please flag as spam, or for moderator attention, and we will take care of it.

Further Reading

This whole policy is described in more detail here; we encourage you to read through the whole thing. To quote the main section:

  • Don't talk about your product / website / book / job too much. Folks will read your answers for their ability to solve a specific problem; if you're good at doing that, then they'll find themselves more interested in who you are and what you're working on. If you respond only to questions where the answer can be something you're selling, they'll assume you're just here to sell.
  • Don't tell - show! The best way to avoid being seen as a snake-oil salesman is to demonstrate a solution rather than simply asserting the problem can be solved.
  • Don't include links except to support what you've written. Links are not a substitute for including information in your answer itself, and links should always be directly relevant to a part of your answer. See also: Your answer is in another castle: when is an answer not an answer?

To quote the whole section from the mother meta post linked above:

A post should be marked as spam only if it advertises a product, service, or similar and is unsolicited or lacks disclosure.

  • Due to the way search engines work, this includes links. For example, an otherwise normal post that contains a link to a website only in a punctuation mark is still spam.

  • Unsolicited means that mentioning the product serves no purpose other than promotion. For example, if an answer mentions a software that may solve the asker’s problem or a question about web programming references a website as an example, this is not unsolicited (it may still be spam if there is an undisclosed affiliation).

  • Lacks disclosure means that the author is clearly affiliated with the product but does not disclose their affiliation. Note that a simple “my” may suffice. However, the disclosure must happen in the post itself; the author’s username or profile do not count.

  • If an otherwise valid post contains an apparent spam link, flag as spam. Do not try to salvage the post by removing the spammy content. The valid part of such spam posts is usually plagiarized from another post or from an off-site source. If you're unsure, you can often find the original source with a Google search of its first sentence.

It should not be marked as spam when:

  • The post contains no useful information, such as an answer that says “I don't care about your problem”. Flag as not an answer instead.

  • It contains only gibberish, such as “fsdguejgkfdlk”. Use the rude or abusive flag for these cases.

Thank you; thoughts on this are welcome.

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    $\begingroup$ Isn't the point about not disclosing affiliation least relevant when it is easiest to spot? E.g. if I or James Wootton or whoever references a paper of theirs it is immediately evident it is theirs. This is different with other users here who post links to papers yet maintain an anonymous identity. (You don't even tell apart a professor from a dog on the internet!) E.g., I have posted a comment linking to a paper of mine yesterday or so without stating so explicitly. Would this be an issue? (I would have stated this in an answer, but in a comment & given I use my name it seemed overkill) $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Aug 8 '18 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ Asking in the contrapositive: If I suspect some anonymous user advertises a program/paper/... of theirs, what should I do? $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Aug 8 '18 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch Saying something like 'my paper' or 'paper I wrote' is good enough for a disclaimer in a comment. At the moment, I'd say that if it's just the very occasional comment and you're clearly an author, I wouldn't worry about it (although a mod could come along and edit it...) - I'll try and find an actual answer on main meta and will get back to you on that one. For your second comment, if you suspect but aren't sure, the best course of action is probably to check with the OP or(/and) flag for mod attention explaining why you're suspecting them of advertising their own thing $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Aug 8 '18 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Mithrandir24601 Thanks. But do I see correctly that it is not possible (or rather unwanted) to be on SE anonymously and point to your own work? $\endgroup$ – Norbert Schuch Aug 8 '18 at 23:19
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    $\begingroup$ @NorbertSchuch I'd say it's preferred you say you're associated with the work, but unless you're repeatedly advertising the same product/author/etc, then it's not a huge problem. It's just a matter of good practice. It also gets a little harder to distinguish spam on a more academic site than on a site like SO, which is why this isn't quite as clear cut. $\endgroup$ – heather Aug 8 '18 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ And a month later, @NorbertSchuch I have an answer - comments still need disclosure (and yes, I wrote the question that got that answer... Although disclosing that you wrote a post on SE that you're linking to isn't necessary, as far as I'm aware). If you come across a comment that needs a disclosure added, a mod can edit one in $\endgroup$ – Mithrandir24601 Oct 12 '18 at 20:03
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I'll add some points:

  • Do not cite own paper, website, blog, software etc. unless it is actually relevant to the topic of the thread. In case you decide to go ahead and cite, whether in a post or a comment, it's best to place a disclosure there itself. Stating or linking to your real name and relevant affiliations on your profile page is the second best thing. We're less strict about comments but that doesn't mean there are no rules regarding spam in comments. C.f. Disclosure for links in comments.

  • We encourage you to use your real name as your username. It reminds everybody that they are corresponding with real people, and it demonstrates a certain level of personal investment in your Quantum Computing identity. If you use a pseudonym and you get into some kind of trouble (e.g. fights in comment threads or spammy-looking posts), the community is much less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.[1]

  • In case you're using a pseudonym and are not disclosing your identity on your profile, it becomes mandatory to place disclosures when citing stuff in which you have a personal stake. Either that or you need to completely refrain from citing such stuff unless absolutely necessary. Be careful and use your own discretion. The community can give you some leeway the first couple of times, but if such spammy behavior continues and the moderators manage to find your real identity, they're bound to take appropriate action.

[1]: Inspired from a similar policy on MathOverflow.

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    $\begingroup$ Just a quick addition to the note about pseudonyms: it's a lot easier using a real name, but I completely understand those who wish to remain anonymous. It just means you have a much greater responsibility to undertake when it comes to citing your own work. We prefer a real name, but if you wish to use a pseudonym, that's not a crime. It's using a pseudonym to hide self-promotion that's a problem. $\endgroup$ – heather Jan 21 at 17:04

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protected by Sanchayan Dutta Jan 3 at 18:34

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