1

On Stack Exchange there's a rule that one must disclose their affiliation should their post refers or recommends an external product service, so it's all too common to see these postscripts on SE:

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Example Service or Example Company.

However, I'm confused when I see such a statement:

Disclaimer: I am the creator/owner/maintainer of Example Product.

Per my understanding, a "disclaimer" is a declaration that one cannot make a reference to the said product or service, thus discharging one of possible liabilities. It looks absurd to me when a "disclaimer" is used when someone is affiliated.

Is it a correct use of the word "disclaimer"? If not, what would be an appropriate word for this purpose?

3
  • 2
    In what the full OED calls "extended use" today, the word disclaimer simply means a caveat - a proviso, reservation, indicating that some associated assertion may not be completely reliable. Mar 20, 2021 at 16:23
  • I would have said by far the most common meaning of "disclaimer" is "disclosure", which fits this context. But neither Merriam-Webster nor the regular Oxford even mention this meaning.
    – gotube
    Sep 23, 2021 at 0:35
  • Following up on the comment from @gotube, the phrase "full disclosure" is often used in similar contexts, e.g. in a news article when the author has what might be perceived as a conflict of interest. May 25, 2022 at 0:26

2 Answers 2

2

It could go either way. A disclaimer is a warning about the product or the review, for one of two reasons:

  1. It might be biased, because of a close connection the author has with the company, or compensation they received to write it;
  2. They might not be affiliated with the company, and so they can't guarantee that what they say is accurate, or guarantee that the company will act a certain way.

For example:

  • Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the US Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to cure, treat or alleviate any illness or disease. (1)
  • Disclaimer: I received a free product in exchange for this review. (1)
  • Disclaimer: The editor's brother is married to the CEO of the company discussed in this article. (1)
  • Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with ACME Co., and do not speak for them. (2)
  • Disclaimer: I do not work for the FBI; the information here came from publicly-available sources. (2)

In the context of reviews, it is more common to use a disclaimer when you are revealing that you received compensation (whether cash or a free product) in exchange for writing the review. It is not really correct or necessary to say "Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with the company" because someone reading a review of the company or service would not expect the reviewer to speak on the company's behalf.

In your example, the person who is affiliated with the company would need a disclaimer (that is the "one must disclose their affiliation if their post refers or recommends a product" rule). The default assumption is: If there is no disclaimer, the poster is not affiliated with the product. The people who say so anyway are being overly cautious trying to make sure they don't break the rules, but they really don't need to include that statement.

0

"Disclaimer" would be generally understood, but for the second usage, "disclosure" can also work, as it's an admission of affiliation, rather than an attempt to distance oneself from the company.

Source: Personal experience.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .