What would make Quora users feel better that Quora moderators are truly accountable for their action?


  2. Try BNBR towards your own users

The modbots now communicate back to reporters about how many reports they have actioned. That is a start.

Provide rationales for why a moderation action has been taken. The mod hammer is now unpredictable and opaque: people have no idea what they have fallen afoul of. The bots know what rule they have robotically applied, and the outsourced mods know what rule they have robotically applied too. Say it.

This is critical for edit-blocking. It’s even more critical for permabanning.

Give visibility of escalation of appeals to moderation. A visibility other than “your email is important to us, and Rory the Quora intern will walk it straight to /dev/null”. Other companies have solved this: you make the ticket visible to the requester.

You do have a ticketing system, Quora, don’t you?

Apologise for fuck ups, and say what you will do better next time. Demonstrably.

A mumbled couple of phrases on the Closed Facebook Group for Top Writers does NOT count as an apology. We’re not part of the cabal, we’re on Quora. Talk to us ON QUORA.

(I can’t link to the instance I have in mind, because the author has since deleted his Quora answer mentioning it. Can you say chilling effect?)

What was your most memorable goodbye?

Three answers.

When I left for the States in ’99, I did a farewell tour of my friends in Melbourne. One of the last was Russian Maria. (That’s what I called her behind her back, to differentiate her from my friend Croatian Marija, or my sister’s friend Greek Maria.)

(Maria was in fact from Kharkov, but she spoke Russian, so get off my back already. For those stalking my every word, she was Ekaterina’s best friend.)

It was a surprisingly emotive meeting. Then again, the Russians are a surprisingly emotive people. I tried to defuse it, by suggesting we make a clean cut at the end.

And Russian Maria turned, and went home, and did not look back once.

And I smiled.

I farewelled my home city of Melbourne one last time, by driving my trusty venerable old Datsun 120Y (just classed unroadworthy by the Victoria police) down to the intersection of Swanston and Flinders St, the gateway of the city. And I gazed out my window at the twin guardians of the gateway of my city, St Paul’s Cathedral, and Flinders St station.

And smiled.

As I told Russian Maria, the Turks have it right when it comes to farewells. Güle güle. “Smiling, smiling”.

I went to the States. I came back. The linguists did not give me a job; they were happy to string me along as a casual, but they had zero interest in any European languages I might find interesting.

So I dusted off my shoes, and spent three very happy years doing IT support in the Dept of European languages. And having as little as possible to do with the linguists who broke my heart.

The job was an indulgence and a luxury, and it couldn’t last. It didn’t; and just as it was going to become untenable, I got a better offer. Which is the career path I’ve followed this decade since.

I knew there was going to be a farewell function in the School of Languages and Linguistics. And I wrote a speech.

A scathing speech. A spiteful speech. A speech that summed up all the disappointment and disillusionment I’d had. A speech where I’d finally tell the linguists what I thought of them.

I have a dry run of the speech to my closest buddies, two Germans and an Italian. They were impressed. They had the erudition to appreciate my closing, straight out of Socrates’ Apologia:

And so, men of Athens, we go our separate ways. I to die, and you to live. And which of us ends up better off, only the Gods know.

The appointed day came. And I was dragged out of my office by a smiling French prof I’d known for a decade.

I looked around me in the meeting room; and all around me were the faces of people who were happy to see me. People who wished me well. People I’d come to think of as my family.

And mercifully, not a linguist among them.

One of the Germans sidled up to me.

“Aren’t you glad you wrote that speech?”

“… Yeah.”

“And aren’t you glad you didn’t have to use it?”

And damn me, if I didn’t smile.

What does Afrikaans sound like to non-native speakers?

A2A by Michael Koeberg. Ah, Michael Koeberg. I’m the guy that dismissed the same question on Romanian as “too many diphthongs”, referred to the distinctive qualities of the French language as “Froggy shit”, and refuses to listen to Brazilian anything. Are you sure you want to ask me?

OK. My background in Afrikaans:

… not much. I’ve heard Dutch; I’ve been to Amsterdam. I worked in the same department as a world expert on Afrikaans (“Bruce Donaldson”). I didn’t talk to him as much as I should have.

Well, I played the video.

Two seconds in: well, dude doesn’t look like Pik Botha.

Four seconds in: dude sounds like Pik Botha.

Six seconds in: if I spoke Dutch in a vaudeville Seouth Effricen accent, it wouldn’t sound too different to this. It’s the intonation: lots of staying at a high pitch.

Thirty seconds in: “…. waat is die woord nau…” Cute!

It does sound Dutch to someone that doesn’t know any Dutch; the trilled r’s stand out compared to Dutch, and it may (or may not) be slightly more guttural than Dutch. But Dutch is pretty guttural already.

If you know Dutch, I’m sure it sounds lightyears away, and you can tell that it’s been creolised. But if you’re me, and the only Dutch you know is Het Wilhelmus, I don’t think it sounds that different

Except for the trilled r’s. They’re very noticeable.

And the intonation.

What are some ways I can use Latin phrases or sentences in everyday life (like they do in the Asterix books)?

Why did they do it in Asterix? Because most Schoolkids in the 50s knew at least a little bit of Latin.

How can you do it 60 years later? By hanging out in your everyday life with people who know at least a little bit of Latin.

Which nowadays means a few secondary schools in the US, a lot more secondary schools in Italy, somewhere with a critical mass of really old Catholic clerics (these days, that means the Vatican), or a Classics department in a university.

Or friend Michael Masiello and Robert Todd right here on Quora.

Sed noli me amicum facere hic in Quora ut quotidie latine loquemus. Latinae enim linguae cognoscentia mea paucissima est.

Res ipsa loquitur.

Are there any conspiracy theories about Quora?

Very close to James Poulson’s #2

Quora is being used to provide inputs for an AI that will take over the world in around 5–6 years when it starts to act sentient.

is a theory so pervasively expressed on Quora, I’m not convinced it actually is a conspiracy theory.

The point of Quora according to Quora Inc. is to provide a repository of the world’s knowledge, and to supplant Google and Wikipedia as the first place people go to for answers.


There is some incredulity about this mission statement. What does one impute to Quora, given this incredulity?

The point of Quora isn’t to provide a social media space for smart and shy people, made unique through BNBR. (Scott Welch has identified that as an opportunity.)

The point of Quora isn’t to make money. (On this and the foregoing see also “Connect Your Twitter Account” and What It Says by Paul Denlinger on Rage against Quora and Why knowledge should be cumulative, not repetitive by Paul Denlinger on Rage against Quora.)

In fact, there’s widespread confusion about what the point of Quora actually is, as far as Quora Inc. is concerned. (If you don’t accept the mission statement at face value. And that mission statement doesn’t turn a profit—although there’s a lot going on in Silicon Valley that seems Utopian Socialist, when it comes to turning a profit.)

The conspiracy theory runs, that the point of Quora is to train up AI and Natural Language Processing bots; and the commercial value of Quora is in the bots, not the wetware slaving over the answers the bots analyse.

The thing about conspiracy theories of course, is they arise from refusals to accept Hanlon’s razor.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.