Why have these health insurance questions appeared on the feed today (same question, different state and different Quora members)?

Quora has a mechanism for auto-asking questions like that. Question patterns by Jay Wacker on The Quora Blog ; Quora Question Patterns blog.

We are assured by Quora that any such auto-asked questions out of Quora will indicate a Quora Bot as their author; e.g. Quora University Question Author.

If you don’t see a Quora bot as the author, as you’ve pointed out, then they are regarded as spam by the community.

What counts as a legitimate question to be asked anonymously?

A welcome question, Clark. Quora Inc does not have an opinion. The Quora community does. Actually, it has several. The question Is there a considered etiquette on Quora as to whether you ask questions anonymously or not? is a free-for-all.

I like this as a list of what topics make sense to ask about anonymously:

Tom Musgrove’s answer to Why does Quora allow anonymous questions?

If you’re asking a question anonymously about, I dunno, chord progressions in Liszt, you will get people annoyed about you being anonymous. (Some people do that because they don’t want to admit eponymously to ignorance. I don’t get that, but that’s me.)

If you’re asking a question anonymously about why you’re being mistreated by Quora moderation, so noone has any way of checking what the hell happened, you will get pitchforks.

If you’re asking about things that could compromise your safety or your privacy, you will get a sympathetic ear from the critical mass of Quorans who are not assholes.

What are your 3 worst mistakes? Would you fix any of them if you could go back in time?

A2A Habib le toubib qui demande les questions difficiles.

I’m in a kind of strange place with Quora lately; I’m going to talk about it in another queued up A2A. As part of that, I’m going to be talking more personal stuff; and I’m going to resent myself for not talking enough sciencey stuff. Anyone with questions with the words Greek or linguistics in them, please A2A them to alleviate my guilt.

Mistakes? I’m going to skirt close to McKayla’s answer on this one. I wouldn’t redo them, because here I am. I’m not really happy about where I am, but they were all difficult situations that I could only make the best choice I was equipped to at the time, knowing that I’d have regrets either way.

I can second guess my past self about them, but I choose not to. I’m hard enough on myself already. A Hungarian saying I picked up via Esperanto has stuck with me, from the time of the first set of choices: bedaŭroj estas hundaj pensoj. Regrets are a dog’s thoughts.

(No, it doesn’t make sense in Esperanto either. It just means regrets are pointless.)

Or as Cavafy put it: C.P. Cavafy – Poems – The Canon

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes forward in honor and self-assurance.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he would still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
undermines him all his life.

1. Asking my parents for permission for things, way past puberty.

I was sheltered. My parents felt under siege in a strange land with strange mores. I was a good kid, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I was brought up in filial piety; I smarted at it and kicked back at it plenty, and I’ve had twenty years of extended (though rather sedate) teenage rebellion to compensate for it. My mistake wasn’t getting my rebellion done, when it could have done the most good for my personal development.

Asking if I could go to Madagascar for the World Esperanto Youth Congress: no, you’re fifteen, what nonsense is this. Asking if I could be a composer when I grew up: no, we’ve seen films, they all died paupers. Asking if I could date at 15: no, you have your studies to attend to.

I don’t blame them: they were doing the best they knew how to in a strange land with strange mores. I don’t blame them for wanting to pass on their mores, and I don’t blame them for looking out for my interests the way they knew best. I don’t blame me for acceding; I didn’t see a real alternative. Not the way I understood the world.

But yeah, it stunted me. Lastingly, I guess. Yeah, it was a mistake.

2. Not following all the way through with academia.

I sleepwalked through my undergrad in engineering, spent at least a year on Internet Relay Chat (yes, I am that old), and then stumbled on linguistics. There weren’t enough movies out about linguists, let alone them dying paupers; so I didn’t get critical mass of objections about enrolling. I finally had something that gave my life purpose. I finally had something I could invest in and dedicate myself to. I finally had a community around me; in fact, I finally had friends. I also finally ran off to join the circus.

I got the PhD, and then I got the heartbreak.

I’ve posted about some of the heartbreak at What is your personal experience with obtaining a linguistics degree? The mistake was, I loved linguistics, but I made the choice not to continue it as a profession.

Was it a mistake? Well, not really. I saw people being strung along as Teaching Assistants for decades. I saw that my earlier mistake, studying what I cared about rather than what was fashionable, guaranteed I was unemployable. (Yet that was no mistake either: I wasn’t going to give up four years of my life to follow some other bastard’s passion.) I saw that the academics all around me were miserable, treating research as drudgery, had no life and little passion, and were looking for a way to get out.

And, perhaps most critically, I wasn’t prepared to leave Australia and spend the rest of my life hunting for the next tenure-track gig, like some modern day wandering minstrel. I knew myself—not just what I’d been brainwashed to be: what I actually was. I needed to lay down roots. I needed a sense of place.

That broke my heart. That delayed me entering into something like a career by a decade, and it took maybe another decade for me to make peace with it. (By which time half the peers that stuck with it either got out or were kicked out.)

That Cavafy poem? He titled it Che fece… il gran rifiuto.

He left out two critical words in the Dante verse he was quoting. Che fece per viltade il gran rifiuto. He who made the grand refusal—through cowardice.

Was I a coward? Yeah. But I was also being me.

3. Standing on principle, and losing everything.

I have not really spoken publicly on this much yet, out of a vanishing hope it might yet be reversed. It doesn’t look like it, but I’ll still be a little cryptic. Those who know me know exactly what I’m talking about.

I did the grand refusal, but I kept going on the side with something related, that maintained a sense of mission for me. It made me a world expert, though few knew about it, because of the circumstances. It gave me a body of work to take pride in. It gave me meaning.

But it was work for hire, and work for hire is always at the discretion of the hirer.

After close to two decades, I was unhired a few months ago. I relinquished the body of work, and my body of work is now being unravelled, strand by meticulous strand.

I was unhired, so far as I can tell, because I stood up for myself for a change, and wasn’t a coward, and produced charts and worksheets to defend myself. And escalated my complaint as far as I could. Which never is that far.

Was it a mistake to not be a coward? Yes. There’s a gaping hole there, 17 years’ worth scooped out of my chest. I’ve been malingering here on Quora to make up for it, but that’s not how you make up for it.

And yet again, no, it wasn’t a mistake. I made, again, an impossible choice, and made the best choice I could. I chose 14 years ago that I’d rather have my heart smashed into pieces, than be someone’s bitch. I chose this year that I’d rather have my heart hollowed out, than be falsely terrorised.

But spare your slaps on the back, guys. No, I don’t feel happy about it. That poet from Alexandria was right, even if he messed around with Dante to say it.

Yet that no—the right no—
undermines him all his life.

If the Confederacy had become independent, would their English eventually be considered a different language?

OP, but the question comes from Jason Blau, at https://www.quora.com/Why-Arabic…

Fascinating question!

Reposting his full question:

If the Confederacy had become independent, would their english eventually be considered a different language? (Very similar of course, like the relationship between Dutch and Afrikaans). One could assume the prestige dialect would be as distinct as possible from “Yankee” speech, there would be much less media/cultural influence over southern english to ensure that it was relatively intelligible to Northerners, the little to no immigration to the Confederacy would ensure the North would drift further away, and most importantly, the Confederacy would have had an army and a navy.

My answer:

If this was 1000 years ago, sure, they would have drifted apart. But 150 years apart in modern times? With the universality of print (including print from the UK)? I think you’d get a situation more like Australian English vs British English. The prestige accent certainly wouldn’t be Midwestern in the CSA, accents would diverge a bit more, and you might see idioms like fixin’ to in standard CSA English which you won’t in standard US English.

But I believe the forces that have kept US English and UK English mutually intelligible would still in play for US and CSA English, even if they hated each other.

EDIT to respond to Jason Blau’s question in comments.

Spoken English dialects? With less Damn Yankees around, with a less industrialised economy so less mobility in general, and with less of a centralised identity pushed in schooling (it is the con-federacy after all)… there’d be more drift, yeah. Not sure if that would extend to the Bayou though: it’s still a “foreign” language, and I can’t imagine that there’d be no Speak American sentiment in the CSA (or rather, Speak Southron).

How did your Quora engagement change with time?

Warning: maudlin self-indulgence ahead.

It’s changed. It changes for everyone who gets to a critical mass of Quora engagement. I fear change, so I like to see the worst in it.

I’ve accumulated more and more readers and views over the past year, like many a prominent writer here. I don’t know what the threshold is for becoming a prominent writer—it’s a topic of some debate; but if you’re not doing cartwheels with every new follower, and you’re not scanning the list of everyone who’s ever upvoted you, you’re probably up there.

It’s wonderful to be read by lots of people, and be a go-to person for a bunch of A2As, some of which are even relevant to you. It’s wonderful to meet lots of people with lots of distinctive voices, and learn from them.

But there’s been a change.

The people I follow and engage with on Quora fall into two classes. That is to say, I make them fall into two classes, because binary classification of the universe is a useful device, even if it’s not wholly accurate.

I love and respect both classes, and I really don’t want any of the people I appreciate to take this badly. But there’s a difference.

When I joined, I zeroed in to my core subject matter of expertise. I exhausted all the pending questions in Greek (language). I’ve made a good effort to monopolise that topic: although I might not answer every single question in the topic, it comes close. And I then branched off into related topics: Greece, Linguistics, Classics—they’re all on my profile page.

Along the way, I engaged with people who cared about my core subject matter, or those related topics. I started learning as well as lecturing. I started socialising as well as learning. I started befriending as well as socialising.

Those are my Old Growth Quora friends, people I’ve met via things I know about. In the list of friends I’ve put up at Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile, they’re 12/15 in the first batch (and the other 3 were people I admired from very afar). In the second batch, they’re only 11 out of 30.

The Old Growth Quora friends are not a homogenous group, not at all. They’re not all linguists, they’re not all Greek, they’re not all PhDs. But they do have a spectrum of common interests. They’re a closely networked group. They all show up in each others’ comments, they are strongly supportive of each other, and I think their personalities are fairly similar. I feel at home with them; and it’s a feeling I’ve missed for a decade.

There’s been something of a shift for me; I’ve bemoaned it by accentuating the negative of it (as I always would) at It feels hollower. As part of that shift, I’ve broadened my Quora associations, from people who already know what I’m talking about, to people who don’t necessarily care; from people I know stuff with, to people who know stuff I don’t; from people I have a lot in common with, to people I want to get to have more in common with.

They are amazing people, each and every fricking one of them. I don’t follow people just for jollies. Expanding who I follow has been very good for me: I have learned a lot from them, and I’m grateful to them for it.

They also are more prominent Quorans, on aggregate, than me. When I got here, I refused to follow anyone with more than 1k followers—and the Old Growth group broadly fall into that group. The New Growth group are mostly 1k–10k. I’ve said to a friend (who’s actually the one Old Growth/New Growth marginal case) that it feels like I’ve joined the Cool Kids’ table.

But I feel more adrift: I’m much more out of my comfort zone. The New Growth friends are not a close knit group, they don’t have much in particular in common, and I’m starting to find some of them don’t like each other. I probably won’t feel as close to the New Growth friends as I feel to the Old Growth friends. I’m questioning more what I’m doing here. And that’s not to even mention the disillusionment with Quora Inc that I’ve bemoaned often enough elsewhere.

Still. Growth is good.

I suspect this kind of shift is common; interested to hear from others if it is.