This question about an image and how it was created surprisingly (to me) caused the photographer Brian to answer the question himself. As can be seen in the edit history, he later reduced his answer to a minimum and rage quit.

That sucks!

I upvoted the original answer, but had no time to comment. When I came back to it, it already happened:

enter image description here

Brian's (assuming he's the real one) answer is very different from the assumptions I made in mine. After all, if he took that image, there cannot be a more correct answer. I think everybody agrees that a contribution from the original creator of the work is very valuable information.

Brian added some social media links to his answer. I think the thought process was "They use my image, so I give them some information and get a bit of exposure for my work in return"

Turns out we don't like that. With the benefit for him out, so went Brian.

Should we really value rules over content and the individual members? I had a new question in mind based on Brian's original answer, which I'm not going to ask now, because the best source of information is gone.

I for one rather see some promotional links in an excellent answer than not seeing the answer at all.

To be clear: I don't think damned truths did anything wrong and Brian sure overreacted a bit. The overall situation appears to be unpleasant for everybody and I wonder how we can avoid it in the future.

hyperbolic question: When the dead will walk the earth on judgement day and Ansel Adams creates an account to answer a question, with a link to one of his books, will we reject that as promotional?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is the first time I'm withnessing such problems and I see an example of the use of Meta. Thanks for bringing it here to clarify. It helps me understand more how the website works. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy M
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 17:01
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ It's also definitely the case that we make things up as we go along — that's how community-based governance works. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 18:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've done a comment cleanup in aisle 2 there, but left the link to this meta question for review. Given that this question has the context as an image, I think that's probably sufficient. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ JoanneC: that was exactly my intention behind posting a screenshot, though more due to individual users deleting their comments. \$\endgroup\$
    – null
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Excellent question, null. I do think this community at large, StackExchange, tends to be a bit "rule-bound" at times, strictly adhering to the letter of the "law" and uncaring for the consequences of steadfast conformance. Personally I prefer to let things simmer just a little bit before action is taken, to avoid scaring off potentially valuable users. I think the situation could have been handled better early on, giving Brian reason to stay and share his knowledge in the future. I think the ultimate solution is just a little bit more time between sight and reaction. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Aug 8, 2015 at 0:20

3 Answers 3


I think the links in this case were within the spirit of the rules.

The thing we don't want is random people showing up and saying "I take portraits like this too! See my gallery at superphotosharing.com and don't forget to upvote!".

We also don't want people to put forum links at the bottom of all of their posts, when they're not relevant. But here, the question was about this photographer's work, and so links to it seem right on target.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I have a huge respect for Mr. Ingram and his work but the links he provided didn't add anything to his answer. I mean, would this analyse be the very same if another random guy showed up and link to his galleries ? He didn't link to a blog or anything that could provide anything else but his photos. By answering nice answers, people will want to know who is the guy answering and see the profile, don't you think ? Furthermore, I already added his name and a link to his work. \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy M
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 16:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I try my best to understand how stackexchanve works (stackoverflow, photo, etc) and people seem sometimes a bit harsh when dealing with question/answer that doesn't fit the rules. In that case, Damned Truths did what he was supposed to do. He even thanked the post, which is far more polite that I've withnessed on stackexchange websites... I don't have much score here but I would stick with Daemon Truth way of thinking... After all, there is ton of very good photographers here that respect the rules, I'm sad Brian took it like that... \$\endgroup\$
    – Andy M
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 16:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with everything you said here Matt 100%; spot on. A great example of what is reasonable self promotion is itai on this site. He often posts links to his own site but they are valuable, on topic, and add to the discussion. But at the same time it isn't just a signature he leaves on every post either. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 18:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I echo @dpollitt on this front. I think we need to be aware of how we comment on questions and answers in this respect, especially when it's something along those lines. Flags are available for moderators to review and that might be the better path in those cases. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Commented Aug 7, 2015 at 20:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndyM I certainly try to be as polite as possible when commenting on a useful answer that may need a little tweaking (like this one), however my intended meaning was not conveyed through the fog of the internet. Brian may have interpreted (understandably?) my comment as sarcasm or something of the sort. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 1:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @damnedtruths I do think Brian's response was a little... over-strong, too. "Fog of the internet" is a good description. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 1:19
  1. I hope we never (again) lose content or users of that caliber to something like this. If an eminent expert graces a Stack Exchange with content then we can certainly tolerate a bit of gratuitous promotion.

  2. If they (or anyone) are new to SE we should be especially gentle in explaining the community norms.

  3. Now that the mods and Trusted Users have restored the good content and "moderated" the rest: I think we should reach out to Mr. Ingram with an apology and invitation to return. I'm not a high-rep user, but if nobody more "authoritative" will I would be happy to personally send him an apology, explanation, and invitation.


We should have our own version of this Wikipedia rule:

If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

Of course, this means that one has to decide that a strict application of some rule isn't appropriate given the motivation that led to these rules being adopted (the spirit of the rules). On the longer term this allows for the rules to be fine tuned to allow StackExchange to interact better with the real world.


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