Why do some Quorans reject the Top Writer title?

You know, I had a long post on this issue written at my The Insurgency blog. The draft got deleted by the ever-malfeatured Quora UI, because I was under a too-frequent blog post block. (Who knew? Nick Nicholas’ answer to What is the rate limit when you get this message on Quora?)

So I’ll try to recreate that post here, as a meditation on a Shermanesque statement about TW. As in:

If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.

Some might think this a flounce. To them, I say: Flounce off. These are my misgivings about accepting TW, should I be offered it, and they are pertinent to what the question is asking.

Those that know me on Quora know that I am a Welchite about Quora: that I am disgruntled with a lot about how Quora is run, both day-to-day and underlyingly. I have just created a whole blog about my gripes: The Insurgency.

Those that know me also know that I have become a moderately popular writer on Quora (800k views, 800 followers). Laura Hale has run the numbers (Laura Hale’s answer to How can I become a Top Writer on Quora?), and that level of popularity likely makes me eligible for Top Writer next year.

(Some might think that is awfully presumptuous of me, for there are no doubt worthier recipients. I’m sure there are. But I am eligible, so again: Flounce off.)

This raises a conundrum, that my astute friend Clarissa Lohr has remarked on, and that in fact I have been pondering for a few months. If I dislike Quora Inc. and their lack of transparency so intensely—including in how they award TWs—then would I welcome formal recognition by them?

These are my pros and cons:

  • I have invested much time and effort, much intellect and emotion, in my content here, and in curating the community here. It would be nice to see my efforts acknowledged. PRO.
  • I don’t go looking for the quill when I pick who to follow. It certainly doesn’t count as a guarantee of quality to me. In fact, I find myself following people despite the quill rather than because of it, when they have it. MILD CON.
  • As with so much else in Quora Inc., there is no transparency in how it is awarded, and there is suspicion about whether it is withheld from people out of favour with Quora Inc. (I don’t care if it’s true or not; this is about perception, and the lack of transparency guarantees the perception.) CON.
  • There are many things I dislike about people who are TWs; I’ve listed a few at What are some aspects of famous Quorans that you dislike? (DELETED QUESTION). They include cliquishness, upvotes independent of quality, hectoring, and lack of two-way engagement.
    The thing is, though, they’re not really the result of the quill: they’re just correlated with the quill. They’re the result of being an extremely popular (and thus overstretched) writer, or of being the kind of writer who lots of people will follow (and thus make popular). I’ve caught myself starting to succumb to unmerited upvotes, for example, because I have a cadre of mutual upvoters (though at least I keep saying “Vote #1 Person Who Had A Better Answer”).
    The dislikables would apply regardless of whether Ms MegaSuperstar Quoran, with 50k followers, 300 notifications a day, and 70 simultaneous arguments in comments, had a quill or not. I would still need to work against them and not be an asshole on here, whether I got the quill or not. NEITHER.
  • The existence of the quill cultivates an atmosphere of Us vs Them, of plebs vs patricians; this was an early criticism of the scheme, and it persists. The more one ascends the rungs of popularity, the less pressing that concern seems. But then again, Hristo Smirnenski has an ever-timely slap in the face for those who do: The Tale Of The Stairs. I’m not Above the users with 5 followers and 2 posts a week; and I don’t come here to feel Above them. MILD CON.
  • The TWs are cultivated by Quora Inc as favoured users, with their own Facebook lounges, rumoured early access to new releases (though apparently that has actually happened only once), better access to Quora staff, and more of a say in the development of the product. Power users are good people to use as a testbed and a sounding board, that is true. But given how little us plebs hear from Quora Inc at all, this has thrown me into apoplexy.
    I have been reassured by those on the inner side that the rumours are exaggerated, and that the TWs don’t seem to have much more influence on the Quora UI roulette than anyone else. I guess. But the existence of the Facebook lounges still offends me to the core—especially if it’s used to strategise behind closed walls; and if I do accept TW, I will have nothing to do with it. CON.
  • Don’t need the swag, although my wife would happily take the New York Times subscription. I would read it, except I spend too much time on Quora to read anything else. NEITHER.
  • Some of my friends are tickled at the prospect of a Quora critic making TW. OK, one friend, Zeibura S. Kathau; hey Z-Kat, we can throw spitballs together! It would certainly help mitigate any perception that TWs are corporate lackeys. I don’t know if there is any such perception; then again, I’m wearing Smirnenski lenses. It won’t be unprecedented: Scott Welch, after all, made TW in 2015. … Though not 2016. Hm. MILD PRO.
  • It’s way too much work to reject the blasted quill, and so few have done so (Nick Nicholas’ answer to Are there any writers who have rejected awards on Quora?), that it’s going to be taken as a flounce, and be pilloried and misconstrued. Just shut up and take the award already. PRO.

OK. Those are my thoughts. What do others think?

Why are Greeks so extreme nationalist?

OP is Albanian, and I’m not surprised he got attitude from Greek-Americans.

Dimitris Almyrantis is a Greece Greek, and I’ll presume he hasn’t spent time in Australia or America.

That is not intended as a veiled attack on Dimitris, whom I esteem even when I disagree with him. (Especially when I disagree with him!) But I think he’s doing presentism. Any attacks I make on Dimitris are overt, after all; and he usually ends up convincing me I’m wrong. 🙂

Nationalism inside Greece has quietened down significantly in the last two decades, and is now a minority rather than a majority thing. (Still a sizeable minority thing, I dare say.) But I was in Salonica in 1995, when Turkey and Greece were last genuinely about to go to war over Imia/Kardak. And it truly felt like I was in a country gone insane (even my beloved Μαλβίνα Κάραλη), with no respite to be had for me but Beavis and Butthead. And the flagwaving was nothing if not nationalist. It involved militaries and flags, after all.

I was in Melbourne in the early 90s, when Macedonians and Greeks were blowing up each others’ community halls. That was the Balkan hostilities playing out in Australia, which Greece Greeks had the luxury of assuming were long settled in situ. If that’s not nationalism to Dimitris… well, I can see how diaspora Greeks would assume it is. Their codeword for these kinds of disputes, after all, has remained εθνικά ζητήματα, “issues of national interest”.

(Why yes, Greek uses the word ethnic to mean national. And yes, of course that’s part of the problem.)

These issues play out in the diaspora more readily than in the homeland; see for example Nick Nicholas’ answer to Has Melbourne been the financial center of activities for advocates of annexing Greek Macedonia to FYROM? In OP’s case, there’s likely a whole lot of people for whom the ethnic conflicts in Çamëria and/or Labëria are not ancient history, and are not hushed up by their national government.

The diaspora believes they are safeguarding the interests of the homeland. The diaspora was intellectually formed in a Greece where petty ethnic rivalries were regarded as integral to nationalism. So the diaspora does tub-thumping, in a way that is no longer mainstream in the homeland. And Dimitris can thank his lucky deracinated stars that this is not the Greece he was formed in.

(I’m grateful for it too. A Greek teenager with such a keen interest in the Ottoman Empire was simply inconceivable a generation ago. I’m being serious: I was there.)

What was the reason people created the Europe Idea while it is not separate from Asia?

What people created the notion of Europe? Ancient Greeks.

Where did the Ancient Greeks live? On the border between Asia and Europe.

The Ancient Greeks had not circumnavigated the Arctic (and they didn’t believe a word Pytheas said). The Ancient Greeks did not know anything about the Urals. The Ancient Greeks did not even know what a continent was.

All they knew was, there was stuff to the East of them, stuff to the South of them, and stuff to the Northwest of them. They called each a different name. And to them, the Aegean Sea (and I guess the Black Sea) were as big a divider of landmass as the Mediterranean is. Remember: they did not know about the Urals. And they wouldn’t really have cared.

So the notion of Europe and Asia predates modern notions of continents, and made sense to a people living where they did. The notion was perpetuated, because European culture was defined by what the Greeks thought.

How would you use a different alphabet to write your native language?

This is a much-beloved topic of mine.

There are a suite of ad hoc romanisations of non-Roman alphabets, devised for the ASCII-based internet (and phones). Greeklish is the Greek one. And Greeklish varies widely from practitioner to practitioner, mainly as to whether it’s a transcription (capturing the sounds of letters in Roman characters), or a transliteration (so that the Roman letters can be a bit more remote what an English-speaker would expect).

So a xi would be <ks> in the former, and any of <j, $, 3, c> in the latter—mostly to look like ξ, or in the case of <c> because it’s a leftover character in keyboard mappings.

Πώς θα χρησιμοποιούσες διαφορετική αλφάβητο να γράψεις την πρώτη σου γλώσσα (“How would you use a different alphabet to write your native language”) would end up as:

  • Phonetic: Pos tha xrisimopoiouses diaforetiki alfavito na grapsis tin proti sou glossa
  • Transliteration: Pws qa xrhsimopoiouses diaforetikh alfabhto na grayeis thn prwth sou glwssa.

Of course, Greeks also do the reverse: write English in phonetic Greek. For example, How would you use a different alphabet to write your native language:

  • Χάου γουντ γιου γιουζ ε ντίφερεντ άλφαμπετ του ράιτ γιορ νέιτιβ λάγκουιτζ.

The real fun and games was during the hey-day of Greeklish, when Greeks would write English in phonetic Greek—in Greeklish. So:

  • Xaou gount giou giouz e ntiferent alfampet tou rai”t gior nei”tib lagkouitz.

Remember: these are of course Modern Greek pronunciations of the Greek alphabet.

How many countries in the world say “Tata” when you say bye. And how did that happen?

It’s almost a word when we were kids.

It is a word from when you were kids. It originated as a “nursery word”, as the OED puts it (i.e. baby talk), meaning both “good bye” and “walk”:

1823 S. Hutchinson Let. Sept.–Oct. (1954) 261 Baby I believe has not learnt any new words since Mrs M. wrote last, but she has the old ones very perfect—‘Gone’—‘Ta ta’—‘By bye’.

1886 J. Sully Teacher’s Handbk. Psychol. A child of eighteen months will mentally rehearse a series of experiences, as those of a walk: ‘Go tata, see geegee.’

In fact, it was used to name a theory of the origin of language as iconic gesture (which is presumably a baby-talk kind of thing):

ta-ta theory adj. Philology the theory that language originated in an attempt to imitate the body’s gestures with the vocal organs.