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.