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Inspired by How do I get my game reviewed?

and in particular in response to

We also don't want people to link their games here, unless the game's content itself is material to answering the question. Otherwise that opens the door to questions that aren't really questions but phrased as such just to be able to advertise here.

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I absolutely agree that advertising-spam would be bad, and that Not-Real-Questions should not be allowed here. I don't understand, however, why linking to a system that comes up in a question, particularly if the system is not well known, is considered part of the slippery slope here. It's a well established practice to link to systems covered in answers, which would seem more likely to attract spam, so I'm not sure why it's not allowed in questions. Do we have a history of spam problems or something? As far as I'm aware we've never had problems with egregious self-promotion, so this caution seems to me misplaced.

My answer initially suggested that the querent link the system they made to the text "Made a system" and "available free online", and I was actually surprised that those text parts weren't already links.

Note: I'm not really asking to change the policy. I'm asking for someone to explain to me (better and with more detail) why this policy is the case.

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The URL is not necessary and sits on a slippery slope.

Slippery slopes are fine when the information is critical to the question, because we can deal with any deliberate or accidentally attempt to move farther down the slope by firmly shutting down such moves.

Discouraging unnecessary advertising in a post that is about how to gain attention for a game is exactly that — dealing with an unnecessary move down the slope by firmly shutting it down.

It's not relevant to the question and would potentially cause us problems. There's simply no need to court problems when it's not even material to the question. There would be justification if it was relevant to the question despite potentially bringing problems, but it's not, so it gets no quarter.

The state of RPG-related spam on the Stack

We do get questions where people say “here is my game! please play it!” and we close those. We got one a few days ago (10k+ users only). We get spam answers often, and, because it's actually OK to promote your game in an answer that is otherwise topical and helpful, we do the normal “please disclose your affiliation, read the ‘How to not be a spammer’ help article” dance with them — even if most often we still end up having to delete such user's answers when their posting pattern shows that they're really only here to advertise their game with the thinnest veneers of topicality that they think they can get away with — because we can't tell ahead of time whether they're going to be a good community member or not.

We definitely don't need to open the door wider to spam by making it an effective strategy to post questions where they ask how to advertise their game, while also using the question to advertise their game. Such questions also become broken windows that attract people who don't even want to ask a legit question and just advertise, and think it's OK (or argue it's justified) because other questions have links to people's games in them, creating more work for community and diamond moderation.

Potential spammers are a lot of energy to moderate effectively, especially when they verge on legitimate use of the site and it's not clear what side of the line they're going to slide down. The last thing we want is to encourage people to make their questions closer to the spam borderline by encouraging them to include gratuitous advertising.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Agreed: while a link might vaguely improve the question, removing it does at best minor damage to the question, while cutting off claims of precedent at the pass. I’m generally opposed to pre-emptive moderation, but this does seem like a pretty clear case of the lesser evil. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Sep 29 '15 at 21:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Especially since the asker never volunteered the URL. That was pretty classy of them, focusing on help rather than a back-door advertising attempt. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 29 '15 at 21:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Sorry I asked for the URL, thanks for posting this on Meta as a guideline for future reference. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Sep 30 '15 at 0:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast All's well that ends well! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 30 '15 at 2:29
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You can, when it's both relevant and not spammy.

A question of "how do I do X in this game, here's a link" is fine (assuming it's not your game). The information is also germane to the question.

A question of "how do I get my game reviewed, here's a link" crosses the line into direct self promotion and is not fine. The information is also not particularly germane to the question, as it's not about that game but about "a given game."

There are not hard and fast rules on this, we use our judgement. If there's a bunch of posts like type 1 above and it starts to smell spammy, then maybe type 1 isn't OK from that specific person any more.

As SSD mentions we do indeed have both an explicit policy on self promotion and have not infrequent violations of that policy, which are taken care of so that, luckily, you haven't seen any.

In general I agree with SSD but like to have some simpler TL;DR answers to policy questions so here's my bottom line, more details and justification in SSD's answer.

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