Natural Justice

Natural justice – Wikipedia

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Has Quora started getting rid of profile biographies after banning users?

I don’t post much here any more; it’s hard for me to get worked up about the missteps and the fumbles and the capriciousness. Plus, I’m endeavouring to be constructive in my criticisms. I have, after all, as Ari Fleischer once said, been “noted in the building”.

But I don’t want to hear about no “ooh, we respect banned users’ privacy” or “ooh, we want this to be a constructive site”. This is a straight out deprivation of natural justice.

The profile, as anyone edit-blocked knows, is the only means you have left to communicate when you’re banhammered. The profile is where the banned get to leave their farewells to the community. A farewell they have often earned. A farewell their peers often are entitled to.

And this has now been stripped of them.

I am offended.

Why was the blog Rage Against Quora deleted (noticed on January 24, 2017)?


I may delete this answer, but to help out Ella González, I’d like to clarify what Tatiana’s post that Ella mentioned was all about. I do not think there is a direct relation between that and the blog being deleted.

Tatiana at Christmas time declared the annual truce on RAQ, inviting people to say what they liked about Quora. Tatiana added that she was concerned this past year, that people were starting to say they loathed Quora, or individual staff, or even her.

Tatiana’s more recent post was that she was concerned that a group of people, and one person in particular as the ringleader of that group, were not just criticising Quora in general, but making ad hominem attacks, @-mentioning and complaining against individual Quora staff. That was making it personal, she added, and those people were no longer welcome on the blog.

And she ended by saying that she was very worried that everyone else would take that to mean that they weren’t welcome on the blog either, and that this would mean noone would have the courage to post on the blog any more either.

I will not name any names, but I know who the purported ringleader is, and so does he. He does do what Tatiana says he does. He’d noticed some deletion activity around his RAQ posts days before, so he knew what was afoot. When the post was made, he commented to say that he acknowledged Tatiana’s request, and unsubscribed from the blog.

I also commented to the post, saying that I noted her point, and that I would never piss on the carpet in the blog that is Tatiana’s house.

I said that, because I have also said publicly that I am in sympathy with said ringleader. I do not choose to do what he does, but I do choose to be vocal about things I think are wrong, and to say I am not a fan of how Quora is managed.

Nothing in her post indicated that Tatiana was considering pulling the plug on the blog. And since the gripes kept coming in after it, nothing visibly corroborated her fear that her post had led to a chilling effect on the blog.

So whatever happened to RAQ, I believe that the post (by itself) wasn’t it.

Why is “species” sometimes pronounced as “spee-shees”?

The explanation behind this is tied up with the bizarre history of the Traditional English pronunciation of Latin. I didn’t find an explicit explanation of what happened with species, and in fact the rules in that Wikipedia page took me in a slightly different direction to where I hoped to go.

But here goes. I apologise for fauxnetics in the following.

There are two rules at play here.

  1. -i-es (which would originally have been pronounces like –yeez) gets merged into –es (pronounces –eez). Aries is pronounced identically to Ares; rabies is pronounced identically to rabes. Originally, they would have been pronounced Air-yeez, rabe-yeez.
  2. An i before another vowel was pronounced as a semivowel (y): e.g. –ies = –yeez above. The combination sy ended up pronounced as sh. Russia > “Rusha”. Nation: na-si-on > na-syon > na-shon. Special: spe-si-al > spe-syal > spe-shal.

Now. If Rule number 1 gets applied to species before Rule 2, you get:

  • spē-si-ēs
  • spē-syēs
  • spē-sēs (Rule 1: -ies > -es)
  • = spee-seez. There is no place for Rule 2 to get applied: there’s no sy any more in the word.

If Rule number 2 gets applied to species before Rule 1, you get;

  • spē-si-ēs
  • spē-syēs
  • spē-shēs (Rule 2: -si-e- > -sy-e- > -sh-e- )
  • = spee-sheez. There’s no place for Rule 1 to get applied: there’s no -i-es any more in the word.

So there’s a timing conflict: if both rules were happening at the same time, it’s a matter of which rule got there first. And both pronunciations survived, because some speakers (or rather, some schools) applied one rule first to species, and other speakers (schools) applied the other rule first.

This kind of conflict btw is routine in historical linguistics; we refer to feeding vs bleeding rules (where a rule gets preempted by another rule).

Now, to me, spee-seez is a more posh pronunciation than spee-sheez. I don’t see an explanation for that here. I see something related in the pronunciation of ratio as ray-shyoe rather than ray-shoe: the -y- was put back in to reflect the spelling, as a hypercorrection. But if anything, that would suspect that spee-syeez > spee-sheez was the academic pronunciation, which doesn’t sound right to me.

So yes, English pronunciation is random, particularly English pronunciation of Latin. But it’s not inexplicable.

Why are there so many people asking for phrases in the Latin Quora topic?

I have asked some OPs. It isn’t just tattoos, but it is mostly emblematic use. Mottos, gifts, that kind of thing. It’s not homework, or some guys at the Vatican stuck translating an encyclical.

And that’s cool. I appreciate the interest, and when I do answer questions like that, I make a point of trying to make it sound good.

More ancient Greek would be nice, though.

Who is Mehrdad Dəmirçi?

Mehrdad is more of an expert about who Mehrdad is than I am: Mehrdad Dəmirçi’s answer to Who is Mehrdad Dəmirçi?

I can only answer with what I know:

  • He is an Azeri Iranian.
  • He is inquisitive.
  • He has a subdued sense of humour.
  • He asks me lots of A2As about Iranians, Azeris, Turks, and the context around them.
  • I actually know very little about Iranians, Azeris, Turks, and the context around them, so I can’t often answer his A2As. But as a neighbour’s neighbour, I truly appreciate the questions, and sometimes I do try and give a well-thought out answer. (Even if they’re not always well-informed.)
  • His surname (“Smith”) has the same etymology as that as the main fiddler of my home town, Γιάννης Δερμιτζάκης (“Dermidzo-yannis”: Yannis Dhermidzakis, Greek and Turkish for “John Smith”). So I feel I’ve already met him somewhere, and I expect him to be playing a Kemenche with sleighbells. (See: Cretan lyra)
  • Oh, and he is a good looking man. I mean, seriously:

Lock up your daughters.

What does it mean to be edit-blocked or banned on Quora?

My colleague Scott Welch has been undertaking some empirical research on this subject during his edit block. (Or should we say, his extended study leave from Quora?)

These are his findings to date:

  1. You can edit your profile and your credentials.
  2. You can downvote and report.
  3. You can view your stats (when it works).
  4. You have full read access to all content.
  5. You can’t upvote any answers, but you can upvote blog posts.
  6. Your name is removed from all Most Viewed Writers lists, not sure if you get this back or not, we will see.
  7. This is really interesting: Your *existing* answers and comments get way, way, WAY less visibility. My views dropped from ~20,000 per day to ~6,000 per day.
  8. You cannot upvote or downvote any comments, even in blogs.
  9. You can delete but not edit your existing answers.
  10. You can delete but not edit existing comments.
  11. You cannot edit Answer Wikis.
  12. You can receive but not send personal messages.
  13. No notifications of submissions to your blogs.
  14. No @-mention notifications
  15. (EDIT) You can still follow questions, mark questions as Answer Later, and bookmark answers.

That’s what I have discovered so far.

What does Quora (company) think of the Rage against Quora blog?

Do you mean, Rage against Quora, which has just been deleted?

It was good while it lasted. The rest is speculation.

Is University of Melbourne better for electrical engineering?

My experience in studying Elec Eng at Melbourne as an undergrad was 25 years ago, so it would be monstrously unfair of me to answer this question.

I’ll do it anyway.

See how my bio says “former Sessional Lecturer at University of Melbourne”? That was in Linguistics, not Elec Eng. 🙂

That’s on me: I enrolled in Science/Engineering because it had the highest entrance score in the state and because I liked maths, not because I tinkered with a soldering iron. (I actually did get some electronic kits back in the day, but they didn’t maintain my interest.)

But still: Melbourne when I went through was utterly theoretical—and not even Good theoretical; it was much more “shut up and learn the formula” than not. They didn’t push practical anything particularly. Everyone knew that RMIT was where you got that kind of exposure, and that RMIT had the real industry links.

Of course, I got my degree in the middle of the Keating recession, and there weren’t a whole lot of jobs about in Australia in Elec Eng. But almost every one of my peers ended up a programmer instead. Which was the Science bit of their Science/Engineering degree.

Interested to hear if that’s changed.