What, if any, are the limits on using ones participation in math.se for self promotion?

I ask because a user (who had already been noticed for 'iffy' answering habits) has now changed their display name to advertise a web site they own:

Image of user name block

Ownership info from user profile

There is a section titled "Avoid overt self-promotion" down near the end of the FAQ, and this behavior seems to go against at least the spirit of that.

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    $\begingroup$ mathcounterexamples.net, where art thou? $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ I sniff a bit of witch hunting / singling out going on here (esp since you posted this person's profile page). $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ I mean, it's not witch hunting - I just stumbled across the signature block and thought "I don't want math.se turning into one of those sub-Reddits that are over stuffed with what are basically ads". This user was on my radar due to recent questions about their posting - is that what you consider "witch hunting"? $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jul 22, 2022 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ As for "singling out", the question was about one particular user's behavior, so if we're not just going to toss around generalities the specific behavior needed to be discussed. And anyone could look up their profile, I wanted to document what it said at the time of posting. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jul 22, 2022 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @SarveshRavichandranIyer - What do you know? I actually exists! I always thought it was kind of an internet joke.com. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jul 22, 2022 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC I knew the user existed for a long time (I think they haven't changed username in ages). I have seen their website, it's quite well-developed and interesting. I never thought of the user promoting the site via their name, to be fair so I never complained! $\endgroup$ Jul 22, 2022 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ @SarveshRavichandranIyer - Yeah, it looks cool. I think we all have an idea that there's a difference between "things you do as a professional as a service to the community" and "things you do to promote your for-profit business", but it'd be awfully hard to articulate standards to distinguish between them. And it's not clear that the latter is even forbidden here. Rubs me a bit of the wrong way, but it might be okay with the site owners. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jul 22, 2022 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ There are no limitations to what you can say in your username, as long as it is not offensive. Political statements are OK ("supports MonicaC"), so why should a website or business name not be OK? $\endgroup$ Jul 28, 2022 at 7:23
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    $\begingroup$ Commercial speech and political speech are frequently held to different standards. Don't know if that's the case here, which is why I asked. $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jul 28, 2022 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


This is totally acceptable on Stack Exchange in general.

It is also not really something enforceable. For a significant number of users, let's call them Category 1, having their profile marked with their actual name is self-promotion!

Will these users be required to now use pseudonyms? Who decides when a person is noteworthy enough that they may no longer be personally recognised on the site? Does it matter of they're famous in one area on one site but not in others?

Conversely, who does it hurt that a user providing content has a username reflecting their business? I've only come across two other categories worth discussing in this regard:

  1. Spammers who either post nothing so the name is never seen elsewhere, or posting spam or nonsense so they get nuked.

  2. Fools (for lack of a clearer term that is definitely inoffensive) purporting to be professionals in a relevant field whose posts demonstrated they had no clue whatsoever, shortly before the content was removed for being very low quality.

If a user is causing problems with content, that can be handled as it always has been (votes, closure, deletion, moderator attention). If the profile lends itself to one resolution over another, that will be handled by moderators anyway.

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    $\begingroup$ Self-promotion of oneself in the Profile section is natural and unobjectionable on StackExchange. The unacknowledged use of self-promotional links and related content in posts, however, should be flagged (for moderator attention or as spam if unrelated to solution). $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Jul 22, 2022 at 4:15
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    $\begingroup$ Indeed, but that resolution doesn't change because the user is also self-promoting in their profile. It merely makes the self-promotion more obvious. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Jul 22, 2022 at 4:17
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    $\begingroup$ @hardmath - Yes, it's clear that self-promotion in your profile is fine. (I included the image to make it clear that it was their business.) The question is whether the user name in the signature block makes every post of theirs include self-promotional content? Although if we go by your standards, it's very much not unacknowledged, so okay. (Although Sarvesh pointing out that mathcounterexamples.net being around for years points to it being okay. I hadn't thought of that, and I swear I did not think the site actually existed.) $\endgroup$
    – JonathanZ
    Jul 22, 2022 at 13:44
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    $\begingroup$ Spam profiles are a problem for many large StackExchange communities. The issue is creation of many accounts to post spam content in the profiles. Here the user's profile content is related to mathematics, and it doesn't seem multiple accounts are involved (which would be its own separate kind of transgression). $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Jul 22, 2022 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ No, it is not Nij. I agree with @JonathanZsupportsMonicaC 's concern here. One cannot advertise one's site as a link only answer. And it's considered "spam" to advertise one's site, business, etc. One can do that in one's profile, and maybe play games with their username, but doing so carries social risks, social judgement. Which finds a way to play out. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Dec 13, 2022 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ Can you repeat that coherently please? I have no idea what you're trying to say or what you're (dis?)agreeing with. $\endgroup$
    – Nij
    Dec 13, 2022 at 22:42

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