I will not hit your Report button

I am returning from my self-imposed exile from Quora, which was in protest of the ban on Jimmy Liu.

No, I’m not over it.

I went on strike because I saw that the reaction to Jimmy’s ban would be just like the reaction to so many other bans: Michael Church’s, and Dorothy Clark’s, and Rass Bariaw’s, and however many more. People will fuss; and then they’ll get over it; and the caravan will move on; and nothing will change. Which is all very well if Quora is not a community, and not social media, and all that matters here is factual data-mineable answers, which will somehow get monetised.

Such, we guess (for who actually knows?) is the thinking behind Quora Inc., and what drives it. Those here that like Quora the Tribe (see on Scott’s House O’ All-Purpose Answers)… they don’t have the same priorities. To them, unique voices matter: that’s why they’re here.

Jimmy mattered. And I will not shrug off the fact that he’s permabanned.

The Black Maria has carted off many Quorans before, and will cart off many to come. Many with clear cause. Too many without. There have been protests about it on occasion, which Quora has made a point of not responding to. In fact, Quora makes a point of not responding to much of anything.

In the Elder Days, Quora Inc. was just as non-responsive; but moderation was a community matter. Mods were drawn from the community, and those mods have repeatedly recounted that decisions to block and ban were not taken lightly, were intensely debated internally, and followed intensive discussion with the ban subjects as well. The ban subjects may not have felt any better about it; but there was, if not transparency, at least some level of inchoate trust that the mods were our peers, were part of our community, and did not use their power lightly.

Quora now pursues moderation at scale. Moderation at scale means (a) not involving the community in moderation; (b) moderating by robot or by robotic human (“rule-bound”, the corporate term is); (c) not bothering to provide any explanation to the community (invoking respect of the blockee’s privacy); and (d) not providing any explanation to the blockee themselves.

As a result, you get RunOverPedestrianGate. You get a widespread impression that moderation is capricious, unrepresentative of the community’s norms, and has no checks or balances. As Scott Welch noted at the time, the fact that Marc Bodnick apologised about some of the blocks he issued made things worse: it confirmed those suspicions.

Trust is good. Squandering it is not.

If to Quora Inc. the Quora Community is an annoying side-effect, that gets in the way of that lovely, lovely machine learning data (as do the jokes and the memes and the languages other than English)—then of course there’s not reason they should bother cultivating the community, or treating it wth respect, or justifying their decisions. They didn’t set out to create a social media site to begin with, after all.

And the recurring response whenever anyone protests, from those who think Quora Inc. is doing a great job, is that we’re here at Quora’s sufferance, as the guests at Quora’s soirée, and if we don’t like the rules here, we can good and sod off to the backstreets of Reddit or *shudder* Yahoo Answers.

Well then. We are the guests at Quora’s soirée. But let’s not pretend all is well this evening. There are some nice canapés laid out, and some excellent conversationalists. But the roof has been leaky for a while; the waiters are incessantly rearranging the sofas; most of the hosts have not been sighted for months; there’s a disconcerting number of people milling around wearing balaclavas over their heads; and every so often, rent-a-cops show up and drag off people you were in the middle of talking to, and often enough, with no visible cause.

And if you say “gee, it’s a bit… Hobbesian in here”, some head prefect type says “Rubbish! BNBR has made this space wonderful! Wonderful! And if you don’t like the rules, there’s the door!”


So when I then hear someone gushing in the corner, “Who should play Adam D’Angelo and Marc Bodnick in a TV series about Quora?”, you’ll pardon me if I wince and turn away.

There are very hard limits to how one can protest the action of some company’s site that you pay no fee to. Especially when the site is a remote Leviathan. Venting on Rage Against Quora; blogging on Quora; asking questions on Quora; cc’ing the admins in comments; none of it makes a discernible difference. Those are the rules, and there is the door.

So if one’s actions will not change things, and one cannot just put up with it, what path remains?

Quit Quora? Always an option. But I currently still get too much out of Quora the Tribe, and giving value back to the tribe. The hassle from Quora Inc.’s endless interface changes, gimmicks, and moderation fails haven’t outweighed the benefits quite yet.

Go on strike, and withhold the fruits of your labour? Tick. But keep doing that, and you might as well have quit.

Short of that? Moderation is my current beef. I have never had a run-in with Moderation, and do not care to; and I acknowledge that BNBR is a nett benefit to Quora. But opaque application of BNBR is not.

Quora Inc. expects me to help out in their “moderation at scale” by using the Report button. I have no idea what happens when I hit the button. I have no trust that Quora Inc. make judicious and considered use of my hitting the button. And Quora Inc., by keeping silent, and blocking people for seemingly ludicrous reasons (which we can only guess at precisely because they are silent), are not doing anything to restore my confidence in their moderation process.

They can choose to do that with their process. I can choose not to be complicit in that process.

I will no longer use the Reporting functionality of Quora. If Quora Inc. won’t invest in my confidence, I see no imperative to invest in theirs.

When in Antiquity did the Ancient Greek Σ (sigma) start being written like a C?

That C (Τὸ Ϲίγμα τοῦτο) is called a lunate sigma (because it looks like a crescent). Per Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Si…:

In handwritten Greek during the Hellenistic period (4th and 3rd centuries BC), the epigraphic form of Σ was simplified into a C-like shape. It is also found on coins from the fourth century BC onward. This became the universal standard form of sigma during late antiquity and the Middle Ages.

I wrote a little more on the lunate sigma in my site on Unicode Greek:

While in the 4th century BC literary papyri still used the ancient angular sigma (Thompson 1912:107), the cursive lunate form had taken over completely by the next century, where it stayed as the unique form of the sigma until the invention of lowercase in the 8th century—and as the capital sigma, for a millenium longer. […]

While the lunate was banished as a capital letter in the 18th century, it remains familiar to Modern Greeks through ecclesiastical use: it figures in church icons, and in decorative fonts intended to evoke Byzantium.

Btw, no reason to think it was under Roman influence. Not that early.

What would you do if you found US$500 in a parking lot?

Not a hypothetical for me, nor it seems for most respondents.

I found AUD 300 bundled with a rubber band under my car tire, twenty years ago. I did not know then, and my wife has kindly informed me since, that the location and presentation of the $300 is consistent with a drug deal.

No, that does not mean my wife has personal experience of drug deals.

I do believe I have some pictorial evidence of the event:

What I not-so-hypothetically did, that rainy dark Melbourne night:

  • Looked left
  • Looked right
  • Look left again
  • Pocketed the bundle
  • Drove off
  • Went a rather circuitous path through the back streets of Clayton, Victoria
  • Parked
  • Counted the money
  • Went home
  • Invested the money into my doctoral dissertation: I paid my polyglot acquaintance N.K. to translate some pages from a Macedonian dictionary for me.

If the money was ever traced, I figured, better N.K. get nabbed than me.

OK, so I’ll burn in hell. Sounds like I’ll have good company.

What kind of ancient Greek dialect is usually learnt?

In refutation of Jose Pineda:

  • You need Old Ionic (Epic) to understand Homer, and all of Greek literature is suffused with Homer.
  • You need Ionic for Herodotus and Hippocrates, and the authors imitating them (more of them for Hippocrates, for Herodotus just Lucian in one work).
  • You need Doric for the choruses of the plays, as well as a lot of poets (not just Alcman of Sparta), and to know what’s going on in half of Aristophanes’ plays, where Doric-speakers show up.
  • Aeolic you need for Sappho, Alcaeus, some poems in Theocritus—and to know how different Greek dialect can get.

Luckily, you don’t need to know much dialect for most things you’re likely to read in the canon—the Doric of the plays is quite superficial, and there’s not much variation in vocabulary.

But to go back to your original question details:

every time I look up a word in the dictionary, I find like seven versions of the same words in different dialects. Which one am I supposed to learn?

Liddell–Scott is an historical dictionary, so it tends to give Epic first, as the oldest form. If you’re learning ancient Greek, the form you learn out of the options given to you in an Ancient Greek dictionary is the Attic one: it is the dialect of most of the canon.

But you should be aware of the derivation of the form—particularly the uncontracted forms—so that the Attic form makes more sense in context. And being aware of the Epic form is no waste of time.

What is the origin of “Thermodon”, the river near which the mythological Amazons lived?

Well, there was also a Thermodon river in Boeotia, mentioned by Herodotus (Thermodon – Brill Reference). So it was a real river name, both in Boeotia and in Asia Minor: Terme River.

This commentary on Lysias A Commentary on Lysias, Speeches 1-11 speculates that Therm-odon was picked as the location for the Amazons because Aristotle thought that women were cold and men hot, which would make warm women tomboys. The catch is, s/he goes on to say, Hippocrates thought menstrual blood was evidence that women were hot, and Lysias predated Aristotle.

Pseudo-Plutarch in De Fluviis gave a story for why the “Scythian” Thermodon was so called: Pseudo-Plutarch, De fluviis, XV. THERMODON. Annoyingly, the manuscript cuts out before we get to the story.

EDIT: Thank you Dimitra Triantafyllidou for prodding me in comments: https://www.quora.com/What-is-th…

From List of river name etymologies:

Danube: Latin Danuvius, Dacian: Donaris, from Iranian (Scythian or Sarmatian) dānu- ‘river’, of Indo-European origin.

So while the name translates into Greek as “hot tooth”, the word that looks like “tooth” is likely the Scythian for river.

That doesn’t account for the Boeotian river of the same name, of course…

What does your accent sound like in English?

Representing Australia. (As is Miguel Paraz, and we’re working on him.) 44 yo. Second-generation Greek-Australian; had Greek exposure as a child, but not enough to make me other than a native speaker of English (though I learned American English from TV before I learned Australian English at school). General Australian, rather than Broad or Cultivated, I’d like to think; but then again, most Australians like to think that too.

Vocaroo | Voice message

What does the Greek word “kefi” mean?

What my peers said. Being upbeat and in a good mood, having fun. To do something with kefi means you’re smiling, you’re doing it with gusto, you’re having fun. To have kefi is to be in a good mood.

Kefi is one of those Greek words that is routinely listed as “untranslatable”, because it has such deeply embedded cultural resonance. Like most of those words, it is a loan from Turkish. And at least in this instance (unlike say merak “hypochondria” > meraki “yearning; diligence in craftmanship”), the meaning in Turkish seems pretty close.

What do you know about ethnically or linguistically Greek Muslims?

Well, I’ve already answered the related question What do you know about Greek speaking Muslims (e.g. those in Hamidiyah, Syria)? I was tempted to merge the two questions, but the focus on Al-Hamidiyah is useful, because they’ve been so prominent in Greek media.

Outside of Al-Hamidiyah: I know that some Muslims in Greece that were subject to the population exchanges were neither linguistically nor ethnically Greek (notably in Macedonia), whereas others were both (notably in Crete, where up to half the population was Muslim in 1800). I know that the version of Greek they spoke had Arabic and Turkish words in it, just as the version of Greek that Jews spoke had Hebrew words in it, reflecting their different cultural orientation. I know there’s some Arabic-script literature by Greek Muslims, as you’ll find by googling “Greek Aljamiado”; unsurprisingly, Christian Greeks have not paid this much attention until very recently.

I know that Greek Muslims were more liberal in their Islam than those of the Middle East, with much greater Bektashi Order influence. Something they had in common with Muslim Albanians, in fact.

And I know that I find the story Ioannis Kondylakis: How the village turned Christian more poignant than its author probably did…

What do you know about Greek speaking Muslims (e.g. those in Hamidiyah, Syria)?

Hello, Aziz, and thank you for A2A.

I found out about Al-Hamidiyah a few years ago, and posted about my emotional reactions on my blog: opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr: Al-Hamidiyah.

I know that the settlers of Al-Hamidiyah fled Crete after Crete gained autonomy, and Christian Cretans started reprisals against Muslim Cretans. (In fact, as I found on Trove, the only time my hometown of Sitia was mentioned in the Australian press was for massacres of Muslims). The town Al-Hamidiyah was named after the Sultan who resettled them there.

I know that the folk of Al-Hamidiyah were ethnic Greek Cretans, and held on to their dialect and customs in Syria. So when the Greek journalists come visiting, they are touched by the maps of Crete on the wall, and the pure Cretan dialect, and the longing they express for their lost motherland. (Just like the Albanians who moved to Italy from the Peloponnese: Moj e Bukura More.) And they’re pretty chuffed that the folk of Al-Hamidiyah have not adopted the polygamy of their neighbours.

They don’t mention as prominently that the folk of Al-Hamidiyah want to visit Crete, but the Greek government won’t issue them visas. Or that the folk of Al-Hamidiyah are the “Turk Cretans” that Greek literature vilifies.

I know that my ancestral village of Zakros has what looks to be a pre-Hellenic name. And that the neighbouring abandoned Muslim village of Zákathos has what is pretty definitely a pre-Hellenic name (it’s almost identical to Zacynthus). Which means four thousand years of habitation, unplugged because of the population exchanges.

I know that the Cretan Turks could have remained the brothers of us Christian Greeks’, had the religion of Greece been Grecism instead of Christianity. (I’m alluding to the decision that Albania made, “the religion of Albania is Albanianism”.) Then again, if Greece were a cosmopolitan, non-sectarian nation, it would not have been Greece. It might have been the pan-Balkan confederation that Rigas Feraios had in mind instead.

What are some down sides of doing PhD in an Australian university than that of the USA?

The other respondents have covered it well. I’ll still answer redundantly.

  • No coursework; so you can emerge with gaps in your knowledge about the discipline. I know I did.
  • Not necessarily much of a seminar culture (may vary by faculty); so much less opportunity to refine your ideas against your peers.
  • Much less networking opportunities, as it is a smaller country. Which means more corpses to step on if you’re going to end up with an academic position.
  • One overseas trip if you’re lucky, when you’ve got to fit in any networking at conferences.
  • No viva examination at the end of the PhD; so no sense of ceremony or moment, and no opportunity to defend your ideas.
    • PhDs were introduced in Australia in 1948. Australia was at the time a lickspittle nowheresville colony as far as everyone was concerned (particularly academics): they deemed that noone in Australia was worthy of examining theses, and shipping candidates to Pomgolia for their examinations was not cost-efficient. So they had candidates submit for written assessment alone. And to this day, one of the external candidates has to be overseas.