A question was asked about the return on investment for swag included with software, and it was not received well: it garnered several downvotes and flags within 15 minutes of asking.

While marketing in general isn't on-topic, business concerns for software development are. From the FAQ:

Programmers — Stack Exchange is a site for professional programmers who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development. If you have a question about…


  • freelancing and business concerns

But due to the negative reaction to this question, do we need to narrow "business concerns" to exclude marketing questions like this?


4 Answers 4


I think the return on investment question would be fine if it didn't come at the end of what reads like an entitlement heavy rant about not getting swag.

  • Just giving it some context, I don't think I overdid it. Anyway, I edited it out since it's obviously the reason for the downvotes. Nov 2, 2011 at 19:30
  • @PeterTurner I think if you made the "Return on investment" the focus of the question rather than something added at the end, it'd work out better. You still seem to be mainly asking whether people are giving out less swag and that just feels fairly unconstructive.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Nov 2, 2011 at 19:31

How is this specific to programming? Is this not the same as saying I just spent $10,000.00 on a printer how come they didn't send me any t-shirts. Or coffee service, or Chairs, or anything.

  • The impetus for the question isn't really on-topic, but the programming business concern would be: "Also, how much (if any) return on investment is there in sending out free stuff along with these programming tools?"
    – user8
    Nov 2, 2011 at 19:41
  • 3
    this is not a 'programming business' concern this is a customer relationship after purchase concern and can be applied to any business
    – Gratzy
    Nov 2, 2011 at 19:46

substitute the word 'automobile' for 'software' and the question remains the same; hence off-topic

  • I think a more appropriate substitution would be 'lumber'. Nov 3, 2011 at 14:11

I'm not sure that anyone answered your question.

But yeah, marketing questions so long as they're about marketing your software and you are the prime marketer of your software are on topic since they're about 'business concerns' and even moreso when they're about freelancing. My question is probably off topic since it was asked purely as a reaction against Embarcadero not sending us any T-Shirts and questions like that are better off on the edn forums than here.

Here's some guiding principles:

  1. Don't ask a question for your marketing department.
  2. The question should be more about how to make your software more palatable to the markets.
  3. Questions about logos, design, demos etc.. belong on graphic design / UX StackExchanges

However, I can't see how a question like

"Who should I give the good swag to at trade shows" wouldn't be on topic, there's probably some facts about it as well as some psychology, the only problem is the "Swap out car with software" issue, which is a fallacy if you take it to an extreme.

and in a tangential way, my question might be on topic, if it had to do with a practical question I faced, like whether or not I should give out swag. What I really want to know is, should I feel ripped off that I didn't get a t-shirt for my company buying Delphi. The answer is, no one can tell me whether or not I should feel ripped off. But in reality, I only ought to feel ripped off if it doesn't actually make worthwhile iPhone/Mac/64bit apps - which I have yet to find out.

But it's annoying when people answer a request for facts with, you shouldn't feel that way, I really want to know if something changed in the last 2-3 years with the distribution of swag and if it is something I, as a programmer for a small business who has some (albeit limited) input in the distribution of swag, should know about for the betterment of my company.

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