Posting or promoting?

Chris Dean's picture

It has recently come up on a few occasions as to where the line between posting for the greater good of the community and self promotion exists. A topic worthy of discussion. To the best of my knowledge Typophile has no formal policy regarding this but it is something I am actively looking into. Your thoughts, opinions, and ideas are welcome.

Nick Shinn's picture

When someone asks for a font recommendation, I’ll often suggest one of my own, along with one or two others in a similar genre. But it does take a lot more time to do the research for that, and to satisfy myself that those other fonts with which I’m less familiar would do the job. Of course, I could recommend the old faithfuls, and sometimes do (e.g. Avant Garde, recently), but would prefer to keep it fresh.

I don’t start threads about my work, unless in the Release forum.

I will often illustrate topics on subjects such as small caps or figure styles with my own types. Again, I’m familiar with them and the line of thinking that went into them, and have them on hand.

BTW, what happened to the Featured Font?

Karl Stange's picture

it is something I am actively looking into.

To what end? The greater good of the community depends on the type industry and related industries thriving; the promotion of those people (by themselves or others) is key to that. I think there are cases where that promotion can be detrimental to a given thread or discussion but in general contributors here are intelligent and able to cope with the occasional over zealous self-promoter and call shenanigans when necessary.

hrant's picture

Agreed with Karl. And we have much bigger fish to fry.


Chris Dean's picture

@Karl Stange: I agree with your statement as well. It is just something that has been brought to my attention by a few members. Threads laden with self-published advertisements would be unfortunate (but unlikely given our population). As it stands, I don’t perceive a significant problem.

@hrant: Feel free to send me a list of fish to fry. I am composing one as we speak. Your input is welcome.

Of course we need to be aware of censorship and over-moderating, but I find it best to be aware of a situation and prevent things from getting out of hand as opposed to taking time after the fact to clean up a mess.

This is merely a topic of conversation. Not a declaration of policy.

5star's picture

Agreed with Karl. And we have much bigger fish to fry.


Such as finding responsible moderators to nuke the spammers!


Chris Dean's picture

I, amongst others, spend time on a daily basis doing this. When you find spam, please email me the URL of the spammers profile and subject it “Typophile spam.”

J. Tillman's picture

If someone is recommending his or her own typeface, this should be clearly stated in the post. Most people do this already.

5star's picture

I, amongst others, spend time on a daily basis doing this. When you find spam, please email me the URL of the spammers profile and subject it “Typophile spam.”

Hunting down spam is the number one priority of a moderator's not up to the rank & file to report spam. We shouldn't have to over in the Blogs Forum where it's been there for days ;)


5star's picture

Back on topic, I like when posts have self promotion. It's great to see a confident type designer show off their stuff.


hrant's picture

Chris, off the top of my head:
- Block spammers, instead of just squashing them.
- Ghettoize the ID section. Too many bottom-feeders* with zero real interest in type, making us look cheap and shallow. If you look carefully you'll notice there's near-zero interaction between most people who ask for and ID type, and most people who actually talk about type. And the only reason not to nuke the ID section outright is that the parasites would simply infect the other sections.



charles ellertson's picture

hrant, blocking spanners is hard, might be harder than you think. I was a moderator on another forum. Things got so bad there the hackers used the "moderator" feature as a way to send even more spam.

* * *

Chris, I don't think you can have a successful policy. For example, I'd agree with Nick, he does, from time to time, promote his own products, but it is as much a service as anything else. Yet how could anyone write -- and moderate -- a policy that allowed this while "discouraging" the prolific promoters?

Why I'm a monarchist at heart. The answer then is "because WE say so."

hrant's picture

Monarchies worked quite well far longer than this precipitously failing Democracy junk, a failure that's no surprise since it's an inhuman system.


cerulean's picture

I had a realization the other day. The most effective way to keep "SORRY I DUNNO IF THIS IS THE RIGHT FORUM BUT WHAT IS THIS FONT PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME QUICK" from defecating all over the landscape would be to move the Type ID board to the top. Clearly the masses walk into the first door they see. Maybe rename it to something like "Font Questions (ID)".

oldnick's picture


If someone ASKS for a recommendation, I am going to pimp my fonts—and I would expect anyone else who makes his or her living selling the little bastards to do the same. Duh. Or is that “Doh!”? What planet do you people live on?

dberlow's picture

One could email interested parties off list.

Chris Dean's picture

At this point it’s clear that members have different ideas of what constitutes self promotion. By my definition, I don’t consider recommending a font you designed to be self promotion, unless of course that’s all you do as a member. Another instance could be someone flagrantly posting examples of their work which don’t really bear any relevance to a thread, treating Typophile as a portfolio/job board of sorts to drum up business, without actually participating in the dialogue. This can easily be discerned by looking at a members history. The same way you can see if all someone uses Typophile for is an ID board and homework help. Obviously this is a scale, and not a black and white. You all raise good points. Thanks for your input.

(now I have about 300 bot posts to delete)

JamesM's picture

> ...without actually participating in the dialogue

I think that's the key phrase. Someone who's only interested in posting spam or self-promotion typically doesn't get involved in discussions. But if a member who participates in discussions wants to do a bit of on-topic self-promotion, that seems fine to me.

hrant's picture

James, that combined with "posting examples of their work which don’t really bear any relevance to a thread" is the only scenario that would tip the scales for me in terms of wanting to see a member censured.

And Chris: thank you.


daverowland's picture

Can't say I've ever seen anyone posting their own fonts not bearing any relevance to the thread. It would be nigh on pointless to do so, and even posting relevant fonts (your own) is hardly a money-making scheme. I reckon if you total up the amount of time you spend replying to "recommend a font" threads versus the return from recommending your own, you end up out of pocket. I honestly think the typophiles 'promoting' their own fonts in this way are genuinely trying to help, rather than make a quick sale.

Chris Dean's picture

(or I can leave the spam where it is, just in case anyone needs a Cheep Homecoming dress ;)

oldnick's picture


Maybe you should keep coachbag around to respond to requests for free font links…

Chris Dean's picture

Oh lord, be careful what you wish for!

mili's picture

I'm not a type designer, so self promotion is not something I would try to do here. As a type user I like having relevant recommendations from type designers, and would prefer to buy a font by someone I "know" if the alternative, similar font is by someone not from here. So please do promote, but tastefully.

Chris Dean's picture

Buy local. That’s actually a really good point. I hadn’t thought of that angle. Very good food for thought. Thank you.

Renaissance Man's picture

We already have a forum for "Licensing, royalties, and the fine art of self-promotion." It's called "Release." It's bad enough that we have people looking for type IDs in "General Discussions" without putting promotions in there as well.

If you're just talking about the Type ID forum, I don't find it so bad, but those that regularly promote fonts only from their font company do get a little tiresome. My eyes glaze over and I tune out.

R.'s picture

Buy local. […] Very good food for thought.

And a very good thought for food, too :)

phrostbyte64's picture

I'm glad that I don't have your job. So what is the definition of excessive self promotion?

Chris Dean's picture

@phrostbyte64: Are you asking me?

(fun fact, De Niro ad-libbed the famous “Are you talkin’ to me?” scene from Taxi Driver)

Bert Vanderveen's picture

I moderated a Dutch/Belgian Mac forum for quite a few years & tried to educate users as to where posts belonged. I even moved posts to the correct forums… Did not help, so I started deleting ‘misplaced’ posts. Which helped educating the ‘elder’ users, but not the newbies. So I adapted my policy: For them I would provide a public service by responding with a boilerplate text and locking the thread. Carrot and stick — works most of the time.

But maybe TeleFinder was nicer software to use than what Typophile uses…

Add.: How about having new users wait for a while before they get to post? Is that possible?

HVB's picture

Or try to make people read some relatively short 'you must read this before posting' suggestions.

BUT ... you know those "agreements" that you must scroll through and then click an 'accept' box? One could make that process even more obnoxious and useless by locking each scrolled pane for a fixed amount of time - enough for the user to actually READ the content. ... (I took an on-line senior driver course that worked that way. Click the button, go have coffee, come back, click another button.

phrostbyte64's picture

@Chris Dean: Yes, that would be you. Sorry. I'm always forgetting my forum etiquette. Something or some one must have brought this topic to mind. Which means that something is probably making someone uncomfortable or might. I would think you probably have some baseline ideas on the subject which might lead you to test the water and get a community consensus.

Perhaps, and this is most likely the case, I'm over thinking this.

Personally, a shameless plug, if it is truly helpful and on topic, shouldn't be an issue.

timd's picture

I noticed in your business card thread there was a question of self-promotion because a printer had posted examples of his work. (Personally I did not see anything that special about the design of the latter two but the magician one was tasty and all must have required hard work to finish.)

But the point was he was proud of his work – and why not, it did not detract from the thread.

Some people might collect something because they appreciate what is on the surface, others collect because of what goes into creating that surface.


oobimichael's picture

If you might accept a perspective based on a wider view of human ethics:

Issue 1 - The Intention of a Question. To use a recent post as an example: "Alternative to «Quiosco»" ( ), the intention of the question was to seek out suggestions for a quite specific set of requirements (foreign language and scientific accents which are more legible for school use). This type of intention is different than someone more simply looking for an alternative to a specific typeface for the purpose of saving a bit of money, or to find something in the same genre, but slightly different. Consequently, an operational suggestion might be to provide separate forum sections for these differing intentions.

Issue 2 - Self-promotion in an answer. Self-promotion of a specific typeface (or in the case @hrant and the aforementioned Alternative to Quiosco post, the capacity to customize existing fonts to meet specific needs) is not necessarily a good/bad or wrong/right proposition. The ethics is: how to couch the answer? In my travels through diverse cultures and comprehensions of ethics, the effective answer might be this:

(a) first, make an honest effort to identify already existing alternatives as @Igor Freiberger did in attempting to provide a broad answer to the student's question... and certainly, list your own designs and/or preferences amongst the wider list... but do so transparently and non-aggressively... I once counseled a large computer retailer to first listen to the specific needs of a customer, and provide tailored solutions to the customer... and if, for any reason, you don't have the specific solution, it is wise to recommend to the customer to go somewhere else for that specific occasion (even help them to identify which retailer to visit). Customers remember this, and come back to gain "honest" buying suggestions. Long-term value versus short-term grab for money. A couple of the type designers that frequent Typophile, unfortunately, are just grabbing for short-term profits rather than seeing the wider, long-term value that they COULD have been providing. As a side note: from a designer's perspective, their designs are a true work of art (and indeed, they are). But to the user, fonts/typefaces are tools. That distinction tends to be lost when designers participate on forums such as this. An example: I personally love the pure artistry in H&FJ's Didot... and use it whenever it is appropriate. But there are other occasions where a condensed version of a didone is required... thus, I tend to turn to Porchez's Ambroise (which I also admire its artistry... if didones were wives, I would have these two!)... but, alas, at the end of the day, a specific function of the typeface is required, and I make my choice based on the needs of the reader, not the type designer.

(b) only as last resort, should someone recommend a customization solution. How would you like to go into a computer store seeking solutions, and the salesperson, in his/her first breath says: hey, let me build you a custom computer?

Well... just a view from the peanut gallery...

hrant's picture

Well stated. I mostly agree, and would elaborate thus:
- If you can quickly* think of an easy/affordable solution, offer it**. In the case of finding just the right font, some of us don't have an encyclopedic knowledge or haven't developed/collected search tools.
- Recommend customization only if you think it's unlikely to find a good canned solution, or if it brings something extra that the requester might value (like exclusivity).
- If you recommend yourself, also recommend that the person look to the rest of the Typophile crowd, and/or a specific expert:

* Nobody should expect a "stranger" to spend hours helping him, with little hope for reward.


BTW this sort of thing shouldn't be done as a sort of false-modesty cover-up. It's simply good to be good.


oobimichael's picture

@hrant, why should it not be expected or hoped that a stranger might provide advice without expecting an immediate reward? Again, short-termism versus long-term relationships... how does one begin to build a relationship... only when there is a reward attached? I say this not merely from an ethical/spiritual perspective, but also from a practical perspective. The relationships that I am fortunate to have now, are most often as a result of many years ago providing counsel or just an ear/shoulder to someone in need... this is the human factor that I find missing in "western" culture, but is the core of socio-economic relationships in other parts of the world... there is a slippery slope component to your ethical judgements: it is predicated on "consequence" ethics, rather than ethical judgement based on "natural truth" as Immanuel Kant was trying to explore... if we truly love one another, then the relationships we develop (including economic relationships) will be much more than fruitful... they will be eternal in their power...

See the power of a font?

hrant's picture

You're a recent arrival, so you don't realize that I agree with you. :-) In fact I've been helping people on Typophile for over 12 years now, generally with little hope of material reward. I guess the operative words in what I wrote are "stranger", "hours" and most of all, "expect". I just think it's unreasonable for somebody to pop up, ask for help on a difficult problem, and expect everybody to devote hours helping him. Trying one's luck is fine, but unreasonable expectations are not.


oobimichael's picture

@hrant... sure, I agree that some (perhaps a lot) of folks abuse goodwill... my instinct, though, is that a site such as this could really blossom if focused more clearly on certain aspects of typography... the section relating to fontID, as an example is pretty abused by folk who have not taken the time to use whatthefont, etc...

... and thus, the more focused the intention of the site, the better quality user will be attracted... the attraction principle...

... cheers... (I'm sure someone will finally comment that I abuse ellipses... which I do... :)

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