It feels hollower

Per: Nick Nicholas’ answer to Do you believe Quora moderation is doing a good and responsible job of maintaining this site’s policies? Why or why not?

I unplugged myself in disgust a few days ago, after Sierra Spaulding felt she had to unplug herself. Right after the trifecta of Habib Fanny being unplugged, Jeremy Markeith Thompson being unplugged WHILE he’d unplugged himself, and Michael Masiello being unplugged. It was too much at once for me to ignore.

I kept peeking in while I was out, because I’m too severely addicted. This is actually not a good thing, and I’m going to work on ways to reduce the amount of time I spend here; I do have other shit to be doing. I’ve had a chat to Sierra, I’ve calmed down somewhat, I realised that if I kept peeking in, I wasn’t really unplugging, so, fine. I’m back. Kinda.

I hope that Sierra, and Habib, and Jeremy, and Michael, and all the others whose voices I have come to appreciate, stay. But more than that, I hope that they are validated by their stay.

And more than that still, I hope they stay safe. If staying safe means they disable comments, or leave Quora and find a worthier space for them, then let them care for themselves more than they care for a bunch of people on the Internet.

Quora has been even less the same for me this past month, as the two voices I have come to cherish the most here, Michael Masiello’s and Dimitra Triantafyllidou’s, have been stilled—Dimitra because she actually has stuff in real life to deal with, Michael because he was shut down, and so were his friends.

To be brutal, having my friends out of my feed has allowed me to connect with new voices; the feed is harsh like that. But it hasn’t felt the same for me. I mean no insult to those I’ve started following the past month; there’s a reason I have, and I look forward to getting to know them even better. But it feels hollower for me here.

Other than that, the fight continues. I continue to hold the Mods of Quora, be they animal, vegetable, or mineral, in contempt—once again, not for any scuffle I’ve had (yet): but for my friends, for those of my tribe. Those who say Quora’s BNBR is working, I’ll say it now openly, I have no traffic with: they are not of my tribe.

Quora’s implementation of BNBR isn’t working. People are being hurt. They are being hurt by simultaneously robotic and sluggish applications of the rules, that punish the innocent and ignore the guilty (until bad publicity intervenes).

In Real Life, the Law is pretty damn sluggish as well; but it is not administered by Machine Learning bots and third party contractors and some corporate complaints inbox. It is administered by juries and judges, who are meant to understand not just the letter of the Law, but its spirit. Not just the infractions, but the context. Not just the penalty, but the greater good. And those juries and judges are subject to transparency and review, not corporate silence and deflection.

Yeah, yeah, Quora is a private company, and here at Quora our mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge, and if you don’t like the rules there’s the door, and whatever happened to Charlie Cheever, and blah blah blah.

Well done, Quora Inc. Let me know when you take over from Google and Wikipedia. And when you’re planning to monetise what, while you’re at it.

But spare me the claims that this is a safe space, and BNBR made it so. Don’t piss on my shoes and tell me it’s raining. With you, Quora Inc, I have no traffic. My traffic is with the Quorans.

Thank you to my friends who have wished me well: La Gigi and Magister Michael and Z-Kat and Khateeb. Thank you to the usual suspects who upvoted me while I was away, because they agreed, or because they are my friends. Thank you to those who have entertained me, and to those I have learned from, and to those I may have even taught a factoid.

And thank you to my Quora Master Scott, for helping the scales fall from my eyes.

I’ll be scarcer here, at least for a while: I do after all need to cut down on the addiction. I’ll stick around while I can bear to. Wiser, and sadder.

For that, at least, I do thank Quora Inc.

The fight continues.

Do you believe Quora moderation is doing a good and responsible job of maintaining this site’s policies? Why or why not?

I am enraged.

Yes, some trolls get banned, some of the time. Yes, there’s an inordinate number of users to monitor. Though then again, noone told Quora to abandon community moderation.

Meanwhile, we have posters on this very thread defend the robotic application of rules, that putatively are meant to encourage a civil environment.

And all that blocking has led to a safe and comfortable space, has it?

Don’t piss on my shoes and tell me it’s raining. This. is. not. working.

And have we noticed how quiet it’s been on Rage against Quora lately?

We have an expression in Greek. Με πνίγει το δίκιο. Justice is choking me. One’s sense of justice, frustrated, stymied.

I’m deactivating my account, until I’m numbed to my sense of Justice again.

EDIT: An illustration, if you will, of the principles at work.

(Hic explicit sermo = Here endeth the lesson.)

The drones are from Jeremy Markeith Thompson’s answer to Why are so many Black Quorans deactivating their accounts? It’s how the cumulative microaggressions have made him feel. The drones are of course buzzing “N*g n*g n*g”, for plausible deniability.

What’s that? Why yes. That question has indeed been deleted.

The fight continues

I will not hit your Report button. Posted June 4.

I held out for four months. A good innings. Today, I yielded, and did my first Block-and-Report of a user.

I’m not happy or proud to have recanted on my stance. I have distaste for blocking, and a high threshold for being offended. By virtue of both being privileged and avoiding conflict-ridden topics, I’ve had a relatively easy ride of it here. (There was one Greek zealot who insulted me a fair bit, but he lost interest, and I think he was flattered by the attention when I rebutted him.)

My patience got exhausted today, by another zealot, this time on the unlikely subject of spelling reform. And it was exhausted more by seeing his ad hominems at some random third party, who was actually sympathetic to his viewpoint—but who the zealot was still insulting and belittling for living in England, which owed the world reparations for English spelling or something.

I’m getting more views, so I’ll be getting more unwelcome attention; it’s an inevitability. So I might as well give back to the community by reporting.

Not that I have much confidence in the reporting system’s efficacy. Several in my circle have reported someone wishing a friend cease drawing breath, for making a benign observation about Melania Trump. On Quora, this guy draws breath still. Another friend was threatened with rape here; she reported it, and if it was dealt with, it was certainly not a matter of hours.

And the ludicrous false positives of Quora Reporting continue; they’re getting worse, if anything. Blocks and bans for the most specious of reasons, acting robotically on policies and not prioritising actual hurt.

But I’ve gone back to enabling a broken system. How do I make up for that, and not get banned myself?

I’m launching Necrologue. Make that which is publicly visible more visible. I’ll be posting any blocks or bans I am made aware of, of suitably notable Quorans. (I’m not going to be mentioning sock puppets, for instance.) With no added commentary; all information on users’ edit logs is public, readers can make up their own minds.

It’s something.

Would you agree with me to downvote any answer which doesn’t allow comments?

I resent the universal blocking of comments by those who don’t want to have a two way discussion on any of their answers, because they think two way discussion is pointless. I’ve bloviated on this several times already; Ernest Adams is the most obvious instance. I don’t downvote him, because his answers are good (though at times supercilious), but I have long stopped upvoting him. And though I haven’t muted such posters yet, muting is a more proper response than downvoting: distaste for comment-blockers is far from universal in Quoradom, and downvoting does have universal impact.

I do not resent the universal blocking of comments by those who have received inordinate abuse, and are trying to stay safe. See Sonya Abarcar’s answer to Do all the popular Quorans receive mean comments? They gotta do what they gotta do, and it’s better than them feeling they have to leave Quora.

I don’t resent those who turn off comments selectively per question (now that the option is available), in response to abuse. Lara Novakov, to take one example of someone, is both very open to non-abusive comments, and disproportionately targeted by islamophobes.

I do resent Jae Alexis Lee for having made me change my mind on this. I can admit to being wrong about an issue; I just don’t like it. 🙂

So, no, OP, I won’t agree with you. And I’m more in sympathy with you than most other likely answerers…

Will I get a notification if someone mentions me in the comments of some other answer? If no, how can I do the same?

Mention by @-citation of my name inside a comment was working in generating notifications for me, until mid October 2016.

It’s not working for me currently; interested in hearing of others’ experience.

As is often the case in Quora, hard to tell if the new state of affairs is meant to be a bug or a feature.

Which Western language has the most un-phonemic spelling system?

Irish, especially before the mid-20th century spelling reforms, quite possibly; its marking of slender vs broad consonants is still pretty baroque even now. It led to the following comment on the Lojban mailing list in 1993 by And Rosta:

“Some of the English might say that the Irish orthography is very Irish. Personally, I have a lot of respect for a people who can create something so grotesque.”

Oh, and that’s with reference to the new spelling.

The old spelling was an accretion of dialects and obsolete pronunciations, on top of the lenitions and palatalisations and mutations of Celtic, that led to entertainments like this:

Irish orthography – Wikipedia

old spelling new spelling

beirbhiughadh — beiriú

imthighthe — imithe

faghbháil — fáil

urradhas — urrús

filidheacht — filíocht

Even if pronunciation was recoverable from the spelling (which I’m not sure about), teaching that many silent letters is just looney tunes.

From Wikipedia, the spelling reform process was messy, controversial, and what prevailed was the work of civil servants (the parliamentary translation service), who had less compunctions than the linguists about what might be put into practice.

And yes, the standardisation of Irish did run roughshod over dialect, which was inevitable. The survival of Ulster Irish does not owe a debt of gratitude to Standard Irish.

No, btw, the fact that Irish spelling reform succeeded does not mean that the Irish are an inherently superior people to the “Anglo-Saxons”. It’s far easier to do spelling reform on a moribund language, when the second-language learners are running the standardisation, and the native dialect speakers barely write anything. American English is not Ulster Irish. And it’s unlikely to see the UK Parliament and the US Congress get into spelling regulation in my lifetime…

What are the differences in grammar between Australian English and British English if any?

Thanks to Robert Charles Lee for his answer.

The one grammatical difference I’ve noticed is that British English allows do next to auxiliary verbs as a pro-verb; Australian English does not. So Did you ever see the Pope? can be answered I haven’t done in British, but only I haven’t in Australian.

What are some interesting facts about Federation Square, Melbourne?

Federation Square. Opened at the centenary of Australian Federation, in 2001. Strange, po-mo, mixed-use space in the very navel of the world, as far as any Melburnian is concerned: the four corners of the intersection of Swanston and Flinders St—

  1. Flinders Street railway station,
  2. Fed Square,
  3. St Paul’s Cathedral,
  4. Young and Jackson Hotel.

As Melbourne a navel of the earth as you can get:

  • Public transport
  • A social hangout
  • A monument to Anglicanism
  • A pub

Fed Square is a locale with eateries, uneven walkways, open spaces, museums, and a performance area.

And very very big screens, which help make it a default destination for people during major sporting events. Particularly World Cup soccer, but as depicted below, more genteel watching of tennis, too.

When it was built, I was a young lecturer, and Fed Square had opened up. It’s where my students would disappear to at lunchtime. I sneered, like many a Melburnian sneered, at its po-mo unevenness and ramps, and its Meccano buildings. I’m not convinced to this day that people love the architecture. But they do love hanging out around it.

Before there was Fed Square, those were dark days, when Swanston St was open to traffic, and there was a Hook turn for motorists onto Flinders St—a manoeuvre commemorated in the TISM song Get thee in my behind, Satan:

In those dark days, the site of this Square was occupied by the utterly unlamented Princes Gate Towers, headquarters of the Gas & Fuel Corporation of Victoria.

The site is at the navel of Melbourne, flanked by the gothic loveliness of the Cathedral, the rotund majesty of Flinders St Station, and the shabby comeliness of Young & Jacksons. And what did Melbourne put there in 1967?

Well, what was in fashion architecturally in 1967?

The monolith of 2001: A Space Odyssey was filmed in ’68. Coincidence? I think not!

Wikipedia, what say you?

The towers were appreciated by some as modernist architectural icons.

Yeah. Screw those guys.

However, many Melbourne residents regarded the towers as eyesores and criticised their size and placement.

Ya think?

The towers were considered to have cut the city off from the river and also detracted from Saint Paul’s Cathedral and the heritage facades along Flinders Street. The towers were much larger than any of the surrounding buildings and were said to have dominated the surrounding context.

Were said?!

What part of

do you not understand, Wikipedia?!

An Australian Women’s Weekly article from 1969 expresses the general public sentiment towards the towers at the time:

“Once the Graceful spires of St. Paul’s Cathedral dominated the southern entry to Melbourne. In 1967, the ultra modern twin towers of the Princes Gate complex raised their lean, unornamented 17 storeys to rob strollers on the banks of the Yarra of their traditional view.”

Well, suffice it to say that when the Gas & Fuel Corp was privatised in 1996, those twin towers did not look ultra-modern or lean. They looked like bulldozer bait. And that’s what they were.

modernist architectural icons

F*ck you too.

Have any creoles become national languages?

Neel Lex Lumi’s answer names Tok Pisin and Haitian Creole. Add:

Papiamento: “is the most-widely spoken language on the Caribbean ABC islands, having official status in Aruba and Curaçao. The language is also recognized on Bonaire by the Dutch government.”

Maltese language: may or may not be a creole.

Afrikaans: may or may not be a creole.

Bislama: one of the official languages of Vanuatu.

Seychellois Creole: It shares official language status with English and French (in contrast to Mauritian and Réunion Creole, which lack official status in Mauritius and Réunion).

Kituba language: “It is a creole language based on Kikongo, a family of closely related Bantu languages. It is an official language in Republic of the Congo and Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is not entirely accurate to call Kituba a creole language as it lacks the distinction between superstrate and substrate influence that is typical of creole development.”

Sango language: “Some linguists, following William J. Samarin, classify it as a Ngbandi-based creole; however, others (like Marcel Diki-Kidiri, Charles H. Morrill) reject that classification and say that changes in Sango structures (both internally and externally) can be explained quite well without a creolization process. … Today, Sango is both a national and official language of the Central African Republic.”