I just deleted my answer to Count fish passing through a canal

I answered under the assumption that this was a school project but the OP eventually mentioned he had a commercial intent. I feel I was used.

From time to time, I've seen questions where it was obvious that the OP was being paid for their work and adjusted my answer, if I submitted an answer, accordingly. If someone is making money, I would like to be paid as well.

Is freeloading off topic?


Interesting question. StackOverflow itself is, by and large, made up of professional software engineers writing code for money. If one changed the way one answered those questions based on whether it's a student or professional software engineer, I'm not sure it would work.

Having said that, there are already different ways to answer questions on DSP.SE: If the question is a homework question (whether tagged as such or not), we tend to answer it differently from other questions.

On the other hand, I reckon a significant percentage (more than 30%) of existing questions are by someone ... making money either as a software engineer or by applying what they learn to a signal / image processing problem.

So, I think "freeloading" questions are on-topic, but should be approached with grain of caution.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ My objection isn’t so much about being commercial but is about miss representing themselves. The parallel to homework is apt but not concrete $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jun 13 '18 at 20:40

There's also the aspect that questions and answers often have tremendous utility value for others than the original poster. Then it will matter little what the motivations of the original poster were, especially if you believe in something like this quote attributed to Richard Stallman from 1990:

When information is generally useful, redistributing it makes humanity wealthier no matter who is distributing and no matter who is receiving.

  • $\begingroup$ Knowledge is not to be acquired merely for its own sake, which is learning, but for its use, which is intelligence - Francis Bacon. $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jul 1 '18 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ I totally agree with this agenda. The site is about generating and sharing knowledge for the greater good. Hence if the question is useful, I will do my best to answer it. Once the question is out there I'm not bothered with what agenda the OP had once it was posted. $\endgroup$ – Royi Jul 1 '18 at 15:09

My policy is simple - I really don't care the use of my answers or the agenda of the OP.
This project is about sharing knowledge and creating knowledge data base.
Hence I treat all questions the same.

  • $\begingroup$ The case I raised was all about a wonton pursuit of knowledge that disregarded any moral or ethical constraint, including treating all respectfully and and equally. So you don't care if an OP is an extremist or a criminal and your answer furthers an agenda that will cause harm because Knowledge is pure and Noble. I actually think that you do care, so why not acknowledge it. $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jul 1 '18 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ removed , alll you had to is ask $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jul 1 '18 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ In my point of view the vast majority of questions here are originated from people from the Professional World / Academy World. Where those from Academy world asks question which are either their exercise, the material learned or related to their research. From the professional world people usually asks about their job. Some of them, I guess, are paid hourly just a regular employee some of them are advisers. Any of them makes money from the answer on this site. All I said I'm OK with any agenda (Reasonable) as long the question creates another piece of information for the greater good. $\endgroup$ – Royi Jul 1 '18 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ this is a much better answer. the term “don’t care” carries a lot of baggage, if not contempt. $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jul 1 '18 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Unless otherwise we all talk within what is reasonable and acceptable in our society. Otherwise we all will make long lawyer like arguments before saying what we want to say. It would be like defining the fields of numbers before doing any Math each and every time. Don't fall for that. $\endgroup$ – Royi Jul 1 '18 at 15:26
  • $\begingroup$ whatever social norms you perceive to acceptable, aren’t norms that are compatible with my norms. So, I don’t care about your answer. others basically made the same point. your answer contributed nothing. $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jul 2 '18 at 1:34

Very close to Olli Niemitalo's response: As long as the exchange takes place via open channels (i.e. not a private conversation), I do not mind if the person is going to get paid for the advice they receive.

If the exchange happens over open channels: Others might get benefited from it AND there is an open track-record of what happened.

From time to time, I've seen questions where it was obvious that the OP was being paid for their work and adjusted my answer, if I submitted an answer, accordingly. If someone is making money, I would like to be paid as well.

This is reasonable but difficult to apply (or "enforce") in a way that would be compatible or viable with SE. Because, if someone is making money....then.....why not SE charge for the use of a platform that promotes paid advice (?).

But, on a more positive note, I don't know how setting up a donation channel would work (or be perceived), in case someone would like to donate some form of currency in addition to upvoting / accepting an answer. But again, that must have clear Terms and Conditions regarding what is donated and with what sort of understanding.


I think the key point you raise here is

My objection isn’t so much about being commercial but is about miss representing themselves.

Which, ultimately, is about whether you want to work for free for someone you feel lied to you.

To be honest, that's a question of personal style. Noone can answer that for you. But:

I choose to be open about such situation.

Hey, OP, I feel a little cheated by the fact that you come across with this now (that you act as if you knew this all from the start) (that you try to hide your connection to a company). I choose to not answer you for that reason! Good bye.

You don't have to write such a declaratory comment. You can just stop interacting. I frankly also think that a question that intentionally misleads potential helpers is worth a downvote, as it's in that aspect, even if that aspect is social rather than content-wise, insufficiently well done (a.k.a. bad).

  • $\begingroup$ som,e questions are interesting, which also influences ones interaction $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jun 21 '18 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ well, as said, all's in the way you feel about something. If you feel the asker is entertaining you well, even when they weren't open in every way from the start, you might feel comfortable. Maybe not! Feel comfortable with what you do. You're here for your own comfort! $\endgroup$ – Marcus Müller Jun 21 '18 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ true. but honesty should be encouraged $\endgroup$ – user28715 Jun 21 '18 at 22:41

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