Who likes Quora Without Details

This is *somewhat* dangerous, what I’m about to do, but it does strike me as interesting.

I just posted Bodnick’s predictable answer to whether Quora Without Details was a good thing.

Few users like it, and even users I’ve personally blocked as being unreflexive Quora boosters have expressed dismay.

I’m interested in the profile of the people who answered the question saying they think it’s (at least on balance) a good idea. Not to say they are unreflexive Quora boosters; in fact, one of them, Konstantinos Konstantinides, wrote here on how badly it was implemented. But I think the profile tells us something.

Eliminating question details aligns Quora more closely with Quora’s vision of more generic, googleable questions, helping more people (on Google), and away from visibly many users’ vision of helping specific people (on Quora) with their individual questions.

This is not a new divergence; Yishan Wong’s answer to Why are my questions not answered on Quora? pinpointed it back in 2013.

What’s interesting to me is who is aligned with Quora’s vision of what Quora is for.

72 answers at this time; I count 8 pro the change.

6 of them Top Writers. (That’s not a sufficient condition; a lot more answerers are Top Writers contra.) 5 of them 3+ times Top Writers.

Two of them were community admins back in 2012. One of them a former employee.

I think people who have been on Quora since very early on, and who are on good personal terms with Quora staff (so they have been able to discuss Quora’s goals with them, especially face-to-face) are likelier to buy into and invest in Quora’s own mission, than others have been. Even then, it’s not a predictor: I’ve been surprised at the vehemence of pushback by users belonging those classes too (and that’s not counting Bad Hombre Bot).

But I do think buy-in to Quora’s Vision is less likely for more recent arrivals, those that came in not to help build a site with The Best Answer To Canonical Questions, but who liked helping individual people with their questions, or who just liked the forum as a place to write, or the caliber of writing by others.

Just an observation; like I say, the calibration is not terribly strong even among the class of user I’ve occasionally referred to as Old Planters. Discuss.

Stats of Who likes Questions Without Details

Konstantinos has suggested the following in regard to the previous post:

You should look at the the number of Edits in the users’ profiles and the ratio of “Answers vs Questions.” I bet you that people who don’t tend to post questions and may also have lots of edits love the simplified Questions. It may also be related to what Topics each user follows.

I’m comparing the 8 pro writers with the top 9 writers currently (minus the 8th writer who is pro).

I have already speculated that tech vs humanities is a reason why Tikhon Jelvis thinks this change makes Quora become more like Medium, and I think it becomes more like Stack Exchange. FWIW, of the 8 pro writers, 4 write on tech topics, but 6 have tech day jobs.

(I’ll list them, notwithstanding the fear of BNBR, because I am not saying any of this to insult them: Michael Vogel, Katherine Rossiter, Marc Bodnick, Konstantinos Konstantinides, Travis Addair, Tikhon Jelvis, Marcus Geduld, Stefan Heaton.)

For the top contra writers (Robert Walker, Scott Danzig, Todd Allen, Kim Aaron, Mike Prinke, Garry Taylor, Rob Fletcher, Joseph Haynes Kyle): 5 write on tech topics, 7 have tech day jobs.

I think that’s a wash.

As to stats:

Of the pro writers, Bodnick and you, Kosta, have an overwhelming number of edits: 287k and 124k. The most prolific of the top 8 contra is Scott Danzig at 26k; and Vogel and Geduld among the pro writers exceed him. Of course there are prolific contra writers down the list (Peter Flom at 44k, for example); but you may be onto something there.

Few writers post questions, proportionately. The only writer who wrote more questions than answers is Bodnick. You may well be onto something there too: Pro writers, Answer:Question ratio: 3. Contra writers: 23. Then again, maybe not: removing Bodnick (who may well have regarded seeding questions of the type Quora wanted as part of his day job), Pro writers Answer:Question ratio becomes 68.

The average Answer:Question ratio for pro writers is 183, and for contra writers is 372. Discounting Bodnick, the average is 209.

This is not good stats. But… maybe.

What is Nick Nicholas’ opinion on Quora’s most recent update regarding no more question details?

Mohammed Hakim, who A2A’d me this, has just been banned. The last straw seems to have been him creating a retaliatory question against someone who wrote a question badmouthing another teen.

Ah well. He was nuts, he was amusing, and he was not for this site. RIP.

I spent maybe four days posting comments on the announcement, writing posts about it at The Insurgency, writing posts and forwarding answers about the broader implications for the community, the proper nature of dissent, the limits and aims of dissent, and the past parallels of it.

Halfway through, I decided “fuck this”, and spent a day writing a translation of a Greek scatological parody of the Mass. That’s the kind of thing I actually joined Quora to do.

What do I think, now that the dust has settled?

  • It makes life quite painful for question askers.
    • I’m extremely disinclined to ask questions, but I think I’ll get over that: I’m just going to use comments on questions, while they still exist, and resort to other subterfuges such as writing my own answer more often, in order to give others a first look at what kind of answer I’m seeking. It will still be at times demotivating.
  • It doesn’t have as severe an impact on question answerers, who always felt licensed to ignore details (when the UX even showed them to them). But it does sever any notion that you’re addressing a specific querent when you answer a question. By design, of course.
    • I’m somewhat disinclined to write. Not very, but somewhat. Quora is getting less enjoyable by steps for me; the grass keeps looking greener elsewhere. (What are some Quora alternatives?)
  • It helped me crystallise a notion: that Quora often gets in the way of me doing what I want to do here, pushing me to do what Quora wants me to do instead, in a totality of ways that I really don’t think you see elsewhere (Quora Obtrudes by Nick Nicholas on The Insurgency).
    • I don’t care about canonical questions, except inasmuch as clearly redundant questions pollute the search space. I never held that much ire about the “snowflake” question. And even if details were often dumb, they were just as often helpful. Quora hates them; that’s Quora’s problem, which Quora has now seen fit to make my problem.
      • One of the many witticisms accompanying the announcement: https://productupdates.quora.com… “I’m starting to believe that Quora’s core values include “don’t worry about the baby, getting rid of the bathwater is the important bit”.”
  • I’m not angry. I could see it coming from the German Quora. Mostly, I’m pretty numb to the bans and UX merry-go-rounds and refreshes and all the rich tapestry that is Life On Quora.
    • Things on Quora still get me angry, I’m bemused to note. For example, the deletion of the question Can you write a limerick about a Quoran?, not least because my answer to it was likely one of the saddest, bleakest limericks ever penned. (You can click that link: I’ve forwarded it to my blog.) I swore a fair bit when I was alerted of that. Alas, BNBR forbids me saying how angry I am.
  • I have a lot of Schadenfreude at the Upper Middle Class of Quora Writers, who appear from their reactions to have suddenly discovered that Quora Obtrudes. The pitchforks being wielded at the Quora Facebook Lounges have a certain… appeal.
    • It’s a malign appeal, it’s a nihilist appeal. It’s the “let it burn” I occasionally feel here, the Tear it down, Elias!. The “pass the popcorn.” The Portuguese expression I’m grateful to Alfredo Perozo for introducing me to (https://insurgency.quora.com/The…): watching the circus catch fire.
      • Goes well with popcorn, I gather. To the sound of bouzouki singers, and bulldozers demolishing nightclubs.
      • But not a reaction that can be sustained. As Alfredo agreed, mentioning his bout of it with Brazilian politics.

I’m still here. I owe Kat a positive post, on what good there is that keeps me here. I didn’t sign up to join this site, just so I can protest every bumble of its staff.

But I keep saying it, and it keeps being true:

Θέλω ν’ αγιάσω μα δεν μ’ αφήνουν. I’m trying to be a saint; but they won’t let me.

How do you feel about question details being eliminated?

How do Greeks feel about the hadith analysis by Imran Hosein that the “Al-Rum” of the end times is to be analysed as Russia?

Having listened to 6 mins of Sheikh Imran N. Hosein’s lecture, and done some Googling:

There is a Hadith that predicts that, in the end times, the “Rum” and Islam will form a truce to fight a common enemy, before they fight each other in Armageddon. To cite the hadith:

Conquest of Constantinople

You will make a firm truce with the al-Rum until you and they wage a campaign against an enemy that is attacking them. You will be granted victory and great spoils. Then you will alight in a plain surrounded by hills. There, someone among the Christians shall say: ‘The Cross has overcome!’ whereupon someone among the Muslims shall say: ‘Nay, Allah has overcome!’ and shall go and break the cross. The Christians shall kill him, then the Muslims shall take up their arms and the two sides shall fall upon each other.

At issue is the identity of Rum in Islamic eschatology.

Rum in Muhammad’s time meant the Christian Empire that Arabs were familiar with, i.e. the (Eastern) Roman Empire.

The conventional interpretation is to identify Rum with Christendom. So Islamic eschatology – Wikipedia summarises this prophecy, among the minor signs of the End Times, as:

The truce and joint Christian-Muslim campaign against a common enemy, followed by al-Malhama al-Kubra (Armageddon), a Christian vs. Muslim war.[29]

Hosein advocates a narrower identification of Rum as Orthodox Christianity, being the continuation of the Constantinopolitan Christianity that Muhammad was familiar with; and since Rum has to be a state capable of waging war rather than a religious community (a concession he makes to modern-day political realities), he thinks it is the preeminent state of contemporary Orthodox Christianity, namely Russia. (When would the Muslims make and alliance with Rum, Is Rum the Rome in Italy?)

Predictably, there is much flaming online, with others insisting that the reference has to be to the religious entity based in Constantinople, the Eastern Orthodox Church. (Hadith : Muslims to form alliance with Rum.)

Now that we’ve worked out what Hosein is referring to: the question is, how do Greeks feel about this?

I enjoyed researching this; you may not enjoy reading the answer.

Non-Muslim Greeks don’t care, because they don’t believe that the hadith of Islam are prophetic of the end times. I mean, seriously. And to the extent that they are even aware of the hadith, they would be quite happy for Putin or Trump or any other putatively Christian state to have to deal with whoever this pre-Armageddon common foe is, rather than shoe-horn the Greek military into this mess. Sure we claim to be the inheritors of Byzantium, but that’s one context we won’t be eager to inherit.

Yes, that’s a flippant response; but please. Non-Muslim Greeks won’t care, any more than Muslims should have to care about Christian eschatology and who the Great Whore of Babylon is meant to represent.

The interesting question is, what do *Muslim* Greeks make of the hadith. Muslim Greek citizens of course exist, but given the history of the Ottoman Empire and Balkan nationalism, the majority of those citizens who are not ethnic Greek are not going to be that interested in claiming the heritage of Rum either. Ethnic Turks or Pomaks in Greece may well reflexively think (Orthodox Christian) Greece when they think Rum, because Rum is the Ottoman term for (Orthodox Christian) Greeks. Still, ethnic Turks or Pomaks in Greece would be no more convinced than their Christian compatriots that the Greek army is plausibly going to play a major part in any prelude to Armageddon. The realities of the modern world would have convinced them that the Rum of Armageddon can’t be the people they think of by default as Rum.

That leaves the very small number of ethnic Greek converts to Islam. They do exist; I had the cognitive dissonance of meeting one at a colleague’s Muslim wedding. No, I am not proud of having had cognitive dissonance. And I hate to say, any ethnic Greek converts to Islam, having been brought up in the thought-world of Christian-aligned Greek nationalism, will have plenty of cognitive dissonance of their own to deal with. They wouldn’t seek to add to that, by reading their compatriots into that hadith.

There’s some bestial fools in Raqqa right now (I wonder if calling ISIS that counts as BNBR?), who think their infamy is justified because they’re hastening the End Times. Even they, I suspect, think Rum is either Putin or Trump, rather than Greece.

They seem to have forgotten that bit about allying against a common foe, too.