Since straight-up book recommendation Q&A is discouraged, book reviews seems like a perfect fit for the blog. And what self-respecting blogger would blog about a book without a link to an online shop where it could be purchased? However, this raises the thorny question of affiliate links. On the Q&A site, links to Amazon are automatically converted into links that reference Stack Exchange's affiliate ID, but the blogs have no such restriction - in theory, an author could use his own affiliate ID.

How does the community feel about our blog writers earning a bit of money when writing articles for our blogs in this fashion?

It should be noted that all articles get reviewed by a few different users before posting, and we would make it a requirement that the articles are truthful about the book (or whatever product is being reviewed). We also probably wouldn't publish too many of these kind of articles, as we don't want the blog to become just a series of sales pitches out to sell products.


2 Answers 2


Adding affiliate links or any type of commercial or promotional activity to blog posts would not be appropriate.

These blogs are not the personal property of those who write the articles. These blog posts are supposed to be a resource for the community. Once folks start wondering "what kind of money you could earn if…" the motivations start to get muddled. Obviously, we cannot provide equal time for everyone who has a product to review or a book to mention. So even if we could assure all the stipulations you cited above, there is just too much potential for stepping over some arbitrary line.

Folks here are willing to contribute their time and their knowledge into creating these resources. Whether they do it for fun, or to share their knowledge, or just to show off a bit, I wouldn't want to be put in the position of saying their activities have become too self serving.

It's best to have a clear and unambiguous line up front. No affiliate links in blog posts.

  • Thanks Robert, an official SE response was just what I was looking for :)
    – Rachel
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 19:39
  • 2
    This post reminded me of a thing with the Arqade blog, where someone plugged their website at the end of each of their blog posts. Just to clarify, would something like that count as promotional activity, and should it be removed?
    – user8
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 20:20
  • @MarkTrapp I think that was addressed on Meta Arqade: meta.gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/5249/…
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 20:25
  • @YannisRizos Nope, that's about using SE content in blog posts, hence why I'm asking for clarification now. Thanks for the input, though!
    – user8
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 20:26
  • @MarkTrapp - I think putting in affiliate ads is a completely different animal than mentioning your blog post casually in an occasional article. This is also in line with the promote section in the FAQ for the Q&A site. I m personally okay with it, but that's just my opinion. :) Besides, the editors can always intervene if it becomes too much.
    – jmort253
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 2:09

Do other sites do this? Does StackExchange Inc allow it? I'd imagine they'd want amazon links to auto convert to their own affiliate accounts. I write for the Christianity.SE blog and do it for the fun/heck of it.

I'm not saying I'm opposed to making money by blogging, but here, you've got no way of knowing if bloggers are popular or right - sometimes I'd just like to vote on blog posts but you can't do that either. The bloggers are just kind of foisted upon us - with a large built in click-through market. It certainly doesn't seem fair to let certain users tap in to a cash cow just because they can ramble a little bit in a coherent manner.

But, the purpose of the blog, is to drive up the value of the site it's the blog for, shore up its usefulness, etc... I've got a bit of an advantage in my own blogging experience, having most of the good stuff in the public domain. Personally, I think a link on a modern programming book should be to the book's website, not a place to buy it. People can figure it out on their own and should buy it from the vendor of their choice, not just something robust, monolithic (mono-breasted) and omnipresent.

But the realy question is how many programming books written in the last 15 years don't have websites and why aren't those websites the most rational place to link to?

  • We've already asked SE to chime in, although I must point out that this was more of a casual conversation. Regardless, you make an excellent point about linking to the book's website instead.
    – yannis
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 19:27

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