Over the last hours one particular user has posted a series of answers under app-related questions. While the answer themselves are not always completely unrelated to the question itself (I'm being conservative here), all of them has one or more links, either claimed to point to "premium" app downloads or video guides, but all wrapped in a revenue-generating (advertisement) URL shortener.

(Not to mention the download links are hosted under Google Drive, which does not guarantee the safety of the source; by "premium" and "cracked" this also implies piracy; those are separate issues)

For now I've flagged all answers from him that doesn't address the question itself properly as VLQ. I'm thinking of flagging all as spam as well, but at the same time it doesn't seem to fit well. I will also edit all these answers to remove the layer of URL shortener to directly expose the link if it's proper (regardless of whether it's on point - leaving it for other reviewers who are seeing my flags), or remove the link altogether if it's related to app piracy.

With Stack Exchange's editor, I don't believe a URL shortener is necessary in the first place, let alone one that could make money off the visitors to the site.

What's your stance on this?

  • 2
    If one still needs one, there's Google's own shortener out there, thus there are no excuses in case of redirecting users through a pile of adware, in my opinion.
    – Grimoire
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:08
  • As it turns out, most of the answers you were concerned about were plagiarised from other sites, and the links were irrelevant anyway. In hindsight, editing the links wasn't the right thing to do in this case, and flagging for mod attention would have solved the problem quicker and with less effort.
    – Dan Hulme
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 13:07
  • @DanHulme Understood. I raised VLQ for the majority of answers, but since the time at which I discovered the problem was supposedly nighttime for westerners (time zone difference), the flag won't be processed fast enough, and I figured I should at least deal with the links quickly to control short-term damage.
    – Andy Yan
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 13:27

2 Answers 2


Many common link-shorteners are already blocked by the site because of the problems that they pose. As a general rule, editing the post to replace the shortened links with regular ones is the right way to go, and the same applies with ad-based shorteners.

If you feel a specific user is especially overbearing with the links then leaving a comment may not be a bad idea. Flagging one of their posts for the mod team to look at is also a reasonable option, particularly if you find the links to be of questionable usefulness and more for the purpose of driving traffic through the link service.


The founder of Stack Exchange thinks affiliate links should be treated as spam. Unfortunately, Stack Exchange has not clarified their policy further.

To me, they should be immediately removed and the user warned. Things could very easily escalate to edit wars (I want to use my affiliate code, not theirs) and spammy behavior (I'm going to add my affiliate code to this answer that I had nothing to do with...it won't change the text...nobody will care).

It's a bit of dirty pool, that.

By the way, any links to Amazon.com are re-written to include Stack Exchange's affiliate code.

That said, of course, I think it's not unreasonable to have a couple of affiliate links in your profile, but only there.

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