Should Emily Savage be unbanned from Quora?

Don’t know Emily. I posted her on Necrologue when notified of her banning, and asked her friend to convey my regrets, as I regret any ban.

The general argument I will address is, should sock-puppetting be zero-tolerance, or should there be the possibility of cutting users some slack?

  1. I know people who have “accidentally” (in fact, no-quotes accidentally) created second accounts, and appealed their ban successfully. I know people who have no-quotes accidentally created second accounts, and were permabanned.
  2. The proportion of people being banned for sockpuppetting—including longstanding, very popular Quora Users—is astounding. Don’t risk it, people. They will find you, and they will nuke you.
  3. Quora’s onboarding is execrable. No, strike that, it would be execrable if it even existed. People have to go looking, to find out what a big deal sockpuppetting is to moderation.
  4. Myself, I think sockpuppetting is a far lesser issue than trolling and threats, just as I am unconvinced that Real Name insistence actually achieves much of anything. But that’s my opinion, I don’t run Quora, and neither do you guys.

Assuming for the sake of argument that Emily sockpuppetted inadvertently, at least initially—which is what is being said here.

  • The arguments for bringing Emily back are: precedent (there have been successful appeals), corporate responsibility of Quora for poor onboarding, and, well, mercy. Which should be a part of any justice system. Take the circumstances into account, take the likelihood to reoffend, allow the person some good character references. Cut the kid some slack. She won’t do it again. She didn’t mean to.
  • The arguments against bringing Emily back are: consistency (Quora can’t be seen to be playing favourites), clarity (those are the rules, no exceptions), and what Marc Bodnick once delightfully called the “rule-bound” nature of Quora Moderation (or something like that): apply rules absolutely, without wiggle-room, so that moderators (including subcontractors and bots) don’t have to expend an inordinate amount of time on decisions.

I know which side I’m on. I can see which side Quora is likely to be on. But I’m laying out the reasoning on both sides as I see it.

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