Why do you like imitating Masiello?

Those of you who are new to Quora will not be exposed to the privilege and the gift that was Masiello, The Magister, as I chose to call him: a professor of literature of rare and universal erudition, of piercing insight, and of Rabelaisian wit; of deep humanity, befitting a scholar of the humanities.

He’s still lurking, but he’s had a gutful of the place.

He left behind him a blog dissecting the obscure words he peppered his writings with: Masiello’s Mega Words. Mary C. Gignilliat set that blog up. She’s been banned.

He left behind him a blog of his trenchant dismissal of people asking homework questions about Shakespeare, rather than reading the damn play: Magister Masiello’s Belligerent Bardolatry. They were not answers in the spirit of Quora, which sees nothing wrong with homework questions, and everything wrong with answers saying you should just read the damn play.

He left an oeuvre that made you feel better just to share the planet with him. Answers that have now faded out of people’s feeds, and will not be renewed and topped up. If you’re in New Jersey, find where he’ll be lecturing; that’s where your feed will get refreshed now.

I did imitate him once or twice; he had (well, has) a distinctive voice, with well-placed use of the right recondite word. I went to look for the answer I remembered, where I imitated him for a game of Guess The Quoran, by writing anonymously in the style of someone prominent. The question was deleted by Quora, because it violated anonymity (Zis is Kvora! Ve don’t make jokes about anonymität here! by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile). An eponymous variant of the game has surfaced since, and that’s great; but I don’t feel like playing.

Why did I like impersonating Masiello, the one or two times I did? Because I appreciate the distinctive voice. The voice that pierces over the noise and the run-of-the-mill. The voice that resounds like a friend you’ve always known, and you feel you can imitate in fun, right to its face. And the camaraderie that enabled it. Just like John Walton used to be able to Michaelis Maus, say: see John Walton’s answer to Which Quorans should I follow if I want to read writing like that of Michaelis Maus? (Oh, Michaelis has been banned too.)

Why yes, there is a recurring theme in this answer.

There are those on Quora who won’t think that imitating each other is a proper use of the platform, a platform meant to be about “sharing and growing the world’s knowledge”, and not banter between friends.

I have an account on Stack Exchange; I am proud of what I have contributed there to date, and I will be contributing more.

And if I wanted my experience on Quora to be Stack Exchange, I would be using Stack Exchange right now.

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