I have the very strong suspicion that this question is essentially a thinly veiled promotion for the OP's business. That is, it seems to me that the OP is not primarily looking for an answer to his question, but mainly uses it as a vehicle to promote his services.

Are we ok with this? And if not, what can we do? The question, while rather uninteresting to me personally, does not really appear to be out of scope based on our rules.

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    I fail to see any promotion in the post. The OP is just giving context to his question. – Franck Dernoncourt Jan 25 '16 at 16:43

To take yet another point of view and to address the more general question:

I do not think that we can distinguish whether such a post was created for purposes of self-promotion or from a genuine interest in learning about new ways of finding customers, jobs or similar. Therefore we should apply the presumption of innocence to such posts (maybe unless we are overrun by them). In this specific case, I find it plausible that the asker is honestly interested in what he is asking for. Therefore I do not think that it should be closed for this reason.

Moreover, I do not see how this question is much different from many questions from users who are looking for a position. Both imply that the asker has certain skills and is available for hire.

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    I disagree with the last paragraph, but the second paragraph certainly makes some sense. – xLeitix Jan 23 '16 at 7:55

As someone who started in CV. I can vouch for this questioner as he has been nothing but a wonderful participant at CV. He always provides very apt and helpful answers.

Though, I think the question can definitely use some clarification. The deep root is about networking in academia, which I believe is a valid question for this board.


If the question was asked from the other side of the table and was about finding a reputable paid statistical consultant, I think it would be fine (assuming on topic otherwise).

The question itself reveals the potential conflict of interest with the "advertising" discreetly mentioned in his profile. This is exactly what we ask for in situations like this.

While he might be looking to gain clients here, it reads to me like he is trying to improve his networking/advertising efforts. So in general, I think questions with this level of "advertising" are okay.

Specifically, I am not sure the question is particularly clear or really answerable. I am not sure it is so unclear that it should be closed.

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    I kinda agree that closing the question feels "wrong" in the sense that nothing in it is against our rules per se (I also don't find the question particularly unclear). But, and maybe I am just paranoid, I also still think that the main purpose of the question is to post on a board frequented by grad students that the OP is offering stats consultancy. – xLeitix Jan 22 '16 at 16:01
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    That was indeed my intention. I know there are potential clients out there for me; I doubt many of them are here on this list. But people on this list seem likely to know where people who did want my services would look. – Peter Flom Jan 26 '16 at 19:01

I think trying to project motives onto a posters question, and then closing it because it may be self-promoting, is flawed. The post is far from an egregious case, and honestly, even if it is a thinly veiled bit of self promotion, it involves the following chain of logic:

  • Someone searching StackExchange for statistical help will somehow miss CrossValidated and come here instead.
  • Having failed to find the proper StackExchange site, rather than just asking their question (and getting it migrated or closed), they'll search for, I don't know, "Statistics Help".
  • They'll find Peter's question.
  • They'll read Peter's profile.
  • They click on his link, contact him, and this ends with a doubtlessly lucrative consulting contract...

That's a chain of events that I'm pretty sure will never actually happen.

If instead we read this post as a legitimate question, I think it's a much more reasonable one. Connecting people who need statistical expertise with the people who have it is a problem for people in the same university (I know this from experience). Working outside that system strikes me as harder, and something worthy of discussion.


Hm, the user is a high-rep user on cross-validated...which actually makes the question particularly odd, because I don't really understand how the user doesn't know how to find academics who need help - he's answered over 1600 questions on Cross Validated alone. I too suspected something might be 'off' here, but I figured it would be best to close as "Unclear what you are asking".

It could be a valid question, but in its present state I think it could be closed anyway. But if it turned out to indeed be an attempt to advertise a commercial service or gain leads, then certainly it could be closed as "spam" - but we don't have that as a close reason, so indeed I wonder how these should be handled? Just closed as 'other', or do we need something more specific?

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    It's entirely possible to be helpful on CrossValidated, yet not necessarily have a good intuition for how to do something more than that. Consider that, at CV, the questions come to you. – Fomite Jan 22 '16 at 20:51
  • ‘spam’ shows as a reason to close on my se client, but only if the asker doesn't disclose a commercial interest. – Fuhrmanator Jan 24 '16 at 1:34
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    As @fomite says, knowing how to help someone is not the same as knowing how to find people to help. One involves expertise in statistics and consulting; the other involves expertise in advertising, marketing and networking. – Peter Flom Jan 26 '16 at 19:03

Though I don't question the OP's statistical knowledge and his capacity as a consultant, I think that leaving this question open as is can cause a flood of questions advertising a variety of consulting services or offers of collaborations.

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    … most of which would probably be closed as duplicates. – Wrzlprmft Jan 22 '16 at 16:05
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    @Wrzlprmft maybe that is the best answer. We could try and ceate a canonical CW question – StrongBad Jan 22 '16 at 18:09
  • @StrongBad: I do not think that one canonical question can cover all types of such questions. My comment was aiming at the fact that even if we are overrun by such questions, we can only have one such question per type of service. What we could do is deciding that such questions shall all be CW’ed immediately or after a given time to reduce the visibility of the asker a bit. We could also have them disowned to remove all traces to the asker, but this needs CM intervention. I do not like both of these ideas. – Wrzlprmft Jan 22 '16 at 19:09
  • @StrongBad I'm a bit confused about what can be an answerable canonical question, taking also into account that anyone in academia is a potential consultant in their field of expertise. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 22 '16 at 19:35
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    I feel like that's a problem that can be dealt with if it arises. – Fomite Jan 22 '16 at 20:52

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