Permissible Ways to Mention Commercial Products


This site is a freeware site and we do not generally cover shareware or commercial products. However the subject is not banned from our site as sometimes editors find it necessary to talk about commercial products.

Here are our site guidelines governing situations where it is permissible to discuss commercial software.

1. In Category Reviews Where a Paid Product is Better

You may mention commercial software in your freeware category reviews where the commercial solution offers important features or performance that is superior to the recommended freeware solutions. However the reference should be limited to the specific features and should not constitute a review of the commercial product or an endorsement of that product. Where possible, alternative commercial products should be mentioned so that the mention does not constitute a plug. Example:

No freeware FTP client currently provides syncing between workstations and a remote server. If you need that capability you will need to look at commercial products such as WS_FTP Pro ($29.95) or FTPSync ($39.95).

The commercial product names can be linked to the vendor’s website but must not include affiliate links. No details of the commercial products should be included at the end of the review.

2. In Response to a Forum Question

If a user asks a question in a forum and the best solution is a commercial product then feel free to suggest that product. However the suggestion must not constitute a recommendation. Example:

Is There a Free Fax Utility for Vista Home
There are currently no free fax programs that work with Vista Home. However there are several web services such as that offer some limited fax sending for free. If you are a large scale fax user you may want to consider a commercial fax utility such as the $29.95 WundaFax or $19.95 AcmeFax both of which claim to work with Vista Home.

The commercial product names can be linked to the vendor’s website but must not include affiliate links.

2. In a comment on the main site

Sometimes users make comments that mention a commercial product.  Almost always this is spam and should be deleted immediately but sometimes there are occasions when it is permissible:

* It is fine if it is in response to comments by another user provided it is factual, makes clear the program is commercial and does not read like an ad.  For example:

Comment a:  It's a pity none of these freeware programs works with Windows 98.  Does anyone know a product that does?

Comment b:  AcmeReporter works with 9X but it costs $29.95

* It is also OK when the commercial product mentioned in the comment has useful features not found in a freeware product. Again the comment must be factual, make clear the program is commercial and does not read like an ad.  For example:

Comment:  Unfortunately none of these programs auto-updates. The only program that does is AcmeReporter but it costs $29.95

Editors should feel to annotate comments that are useful but don't make clear the product is commercial or otherwise fall outside these guidelines.

3. As a Stand-alone Product Review

It is perfectly OK to write a full review of a commercial product for the site but this must be submitted as a stand-alone article rather than be part of any freeware category review.

Any reviews of a commercial product prepared by an editor should not be approved for publication by the editor who wrote it but left in moderation for one of our site editors to approve. Such approval is not automatic but will depend inter alia, on the quality of the review, interest to our site visitors and any possible adverse impact on our reputation for independence.

4. As a Hot Find Item or Part of a Site Promotion

Commercial products can be featured in Hot Find items provided the product is being offered for free or at a very substantial discount.

Such items should be factual and descriptive and not read like ads or endorsements of the products.

Occasionally we may offer our site visitors commercial products for free or at heavily discounted prices where we consider it is in the interest of the site and our users.


July, 2009