This morning the active questions page is flooded with spammy-like answers from this user: satomi.

They all suggest to use the same software, and they are all structured in the same way, starting with an excerpt like this one:

How about Astah? Very easy to use. There are paid version (Astah Professional) and free version (Astah Community).

Followed by an image illustrating a relevant feature of that software pertinent to the specific question.

Something similiar happens also in her answers on Stack Overflow, where the answers themselves look less spammy than those posted here, because the software is not always explicitly mentioned, but this is compensated by the fact that each image present in her answers (image present in almost any answer) comes with a watermark on the bottom-right corner reporting "powered by Astah".

Also, as it comes up from her profile page, she's part of the tech support for that tool:

Tech support of UML, SysML, Mind Mapping tool - Astah

Finally let's take a look at when the questions she answered were posted:

  1. Feb 23 '11
  2. Aug 1 '10
  3. Oct 8 '11
  4. Sep 2 '13

So indeed those questions were searched in order to be answered.

Now that software, as stated also in her answers, comes both in a free and in a paid version, and her answers (at least on Stack Overflow) basically also answer the question, so I wouldn't classify this as the classic blatant spamming, but this behavior looks indeed suspicious and looks like a subtler way to spam that software. Even giving the benefit of the doubt, is this whole thing acceptable?

  • 2
    Flagged as spam! IMHO.
    – blade19899
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 8:20
  • 3
    Is more difficult to identify this spam if people don't stop asking product recommendation...
    – Braiam
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 12:18
  • 1
    She has 400+ rep on SO, so this is weird Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 13:32

4 Answers 4


In my very annoyed opinion, ;-) product placement and spam are the same. Whether you just put a link to some product in the question (spam) or the answer (Product placement), the net result is the same: You promote the sales of some product instead of giving an impartial answer.

Warning: This is my personal opinion, I've flagged product placement before as I've got a good nose for this kind of excrement, but some moderators don't agree with this POV.

Sorry for posting this as an answer (it should have been a comment), but I wanted to write a bit more then the comments allowed (which makes it kind of a rant-answer...) ;-)

Now I'm off to flag all this excrement as spam... (Not really: but I would like all of the mods to answer your question so I could see their stance on this)

  • 3
    I agree with your annoyed opinion. This to me looks like a subtle way to induce users to try a software (which might even be good, but still) expecting them to buy the full version later, so it's by any mean a way of marketing the software. +1 and waiting for a mod opinion on this as well. Also the fact that the questions she answered were indeed searched in order to be answered rules out any doubt in my opinion.
    – kos
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 7:22
  • 1
    In the mean time, I've downvoted all of her answers.
    – Fabby
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 7:24
  • Again, if we stop allowing product recommendation stuff would be more easier to catch. Since most of spam are irrelevant to the question.
    – Braiam
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 11:38
  • 1
    Thanks for avoiding shorter synonyms (e.g. 4 letters starting with an "s") of the word "excrement"... ;D
    – Byte Commander Mod
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 11:50
  • @Kos: a would be nice!!! :P ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Aug 2, 2015 at 20:26
  • 1
    Indeed. Sorry for not having done it before, I just forgot it :)
    – kos
    Commented Aug 3, 2015 at 12:36

In this case it is rather obvious. From what I could see on quickly checking their homepage their primary download directs to Windows and from my Windows office machine I could not find any downloads for Linux. Only on searching deeper into their help pages I found a guide on how to run this Java application on Linux. The advertising posts give no help whatsoever on how to download, install and run their software on Ubuntu.

Any application should be designed to be easily installed through our package manager and and it should run on Ubuntu, otherwise Ask Ubuntu would not be the right place to post. The tech support team of that software will know that.

If they still do place their advertisments for a closed source application here I consider this as spam without doubt, even if there was a free version available.

For my view on Open Source projects or other Linux software also see these related posts:

  • 1
    Actually there is a free Linux version available for download (astah.net/download); those answers would pass every test in your answer to my question, however I still feel that being part of the company which markets a particular software and searching particular questions in order to suggest such software (even in its free version, even if the software itself is good) all of the time steps way out of the non-spam line: it's clearly a marketing move. The risk is that the software isn't actually that good, or not good for all those questions.
    – kos
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 8:24
  • @kos: that's interesting... from my machine (office box running Windows) I can't see any Linux downloads - only after browsing deep into their help pages I found a reference for Linux (it's a Java app).
    – Takkat
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 8:48
  • 3
    Yes they're probably parsing the user agent in order to display only the versions compatible with the running OS, you should be able to see the <div>s containing the links to the Linux versions (somehow hidden from the page rendering) in the source of the page, since I can see the links to the Windows versions there, which I can't see in the rendered page. It looks like they have also a Mac OS version
    – kos
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 8:56

I also concur that this case clearly falls within the scope of marketing/product-placement.

The use of an advertised product (Astah) - might actually be an appropriate response to a given question and doesn't necessarily warrant a flag. Especially if the poster is going into enough detail in explanation and thoroughness with how the product meets the OP's described problem.

THAT BEING SAID, I believe that the community may be justified in down voting these marketing answers.

However, I think that for reasons already mentioned (i.e. product is not open-source, is not available from official repositories) - that alternative responses may naturally be upvoted in relation to the product ads because they might be more elegant, easier to follow, etc...and perhaps very little needs to be done?...

My personal feeling is that at least a downvote is warranted with a comment describing the reason (marketing for closed-source software not available from official repositories, OR EVEN, improve this answer by creating an appropriate PPA, etc.).

  • I like this reasoning. The first case scenario (second paragraph) closely relates to what the user did on Stack Overflow (i.e. basically answering the question, probably even thoroughly), however here on Ask Ubuntu the boundary has been exceeded when the user has searched for some questions to answer answering all of them using the same pattern; it's indeed a more or less subtle way to market the software; [cont]
    – kos
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 6:24
  • [cont] this is not a big deal per se, but even if those answers would have fit well in all those cases it would have been hard to not raise an eyebrow, and the concern of course is always about the quality of the answer in the question's perspective.
    – kos
    Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 6:24

I don't really mind if the sofware actually helps the user, but until now I can't find an example for that. Most problems can be solved by the internal Ubuntu tools, and if not, the official repository should have the package you need for certain solution.

Anyway, this is Ask Ubuntu, not Ask Windows. Therefore, no Windoze programs should be posted here (we can talk about Wine later.)

  • 1
    Then we should just trash all the questions and answers relating to how to get Windows Games on Steam on Wine then, by this logic...
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Jul 13, 2015 at 11:41
  • 2
    but ... but ... I never found distro-specific issue on wine. Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 12:49

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