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Probably it's been already discussed, but I don't know how to look for it...

Sometimes happens that answering a question requires a reference to a datasheet, or a specific kind of product; in the case of datasheets for instance, one has to choose one of the manufacturers to refer to.

Where is the limit between real referencing and "spamming"/advertising? Especially because I guess here there are engineers working for some of these companies...

Edit

I've seen the answers, and I would clarify: I'm not against linking datasheets at all, it was just to have an explicit answer about something that I've always taken as "accepted" but without being sure.

(Please reword this question if you feel, I'm a little bit in trouble :D)

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First things first: Datasheet links are great. Don't ever worry about linking to a datasheet when you're doing it to allow readers to get more information on a part. Digikey currently reports that there are 2.3 million parts in their database (with some duplicates for Digi Reels and part variants), and Octopart reports 1.9 million parts. No one can keep track of all these parts. Datasheets are invaluable tools for understanding a question or answer.

Second, I haven't seen any problems with major companies. If you're linking to an Atmel, National, or Xilinx datasheet and you're not a member of that company, then you're just fine.

The only times that this is suspicious is when you're referencing products from a specific distributor. Even then, if the only datasheet you can find is hosted by a distributor, and you're linking to the PDF, you're probably OK. However, please don't link to the product page on the distributor website. For example, as much as I like Sparkfun, I wouldn't link to http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10953 when referencing this accelerometer. The PDF link at http://dlnmh9ip6v2uc.cloudfront.net/datasheets/Sensors/Accelerometers/MMA8452Q.pdf would be a good deal better, especially since the uninitiated probably wouldn't associate that cloudfront.net subdomain with Sparfun. The best place to link to would be http://cache.freescale.com/files/sensors/doc/data_sheet/MMA8452Q.pdf; the manufacturer website.

Finally, remember our promotion rules:

May I promote products or websites I am affiliated with here?

Be careful, because the community frowns on overt self-promotion and tends to vote it down and flag it as spam. Post good, relevant answers, and if some (but not all) happen to be about your product or website, so be it. However, you must disclose your affiliation in your answers.

If a huge percentage of your posts include a mention of your product or website, you're probably here for the wrong reasons. Our advertising rates are quite reasonable; contact our ad sales team for details. We also offer free community promotion ads for open source projects and non-profit organizations.

This is really an ethical issue, not a legislative one. If you're reading this as a member of a company with products you want to promote, take the high road, don't try to subtly advertise your company by posting links in lots of answers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Fine, my concern was about the fact that one could use the datasheet of an Analog Devices product, while another would use a Texas Instruments one, to give an example. So, since I'm in doubt if I have to suggest a solution or a document, I usually go to the sources that I know better, but always worrying about being partial. \$\endgroup\$ – clabacchio Feb 25 '12 at 19:26
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I think your worries are mostly unjustified. Like Kevin says, links to datasheets are great, and I encourage people to create links, especially if it's not a common part. Datasheets are useful so everybody knows what part you're talking about.
Personally, when I see a link to National LM7805's datasheet, I don't think "Gee, this guy is plugging that product!", even if I know he works for National. In most cases it will just be the product which is most appropriate or which poster knows best or is currently using. Much becomes clear from the answer's context.
In the rare events where we're talking about advertising it's often clear because the link is almost always given without a elaborate answer. In my experience such answers are quickly removed.

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