Why do you really loathe Quora?

Strange things are afoot. Until those things are clarified, I’m holding back on saying anything about them.

But I have been thinking a lot about what my responsibility is in criticising Quora, and I have been challenged by a couple of people on what I should be doing.

I welcome these challenges. There’s no learning without challenge, there’s no maturing without challenge. And even if I do not agree with the challenges, it’s incumbent on me to articulate why, and to do so rationally. I owe that to those who challenge me in good faith.

Before the latest weirdness, I received a message 10 days ago from Abd Ul-Rahman Lomax. Abd Ul-Rahman will be known to some of you from the Quora Users Free Association, which welcomes banned users on its mailing list. With his permission, I’m posting his challenge here, and my response to it—which gave me the opportunity to introspect, on why I get so worked up about things I see wrong with Quora.

I’d like for this to be a dialogue, with him and others, and I welcome thoughts in comments.

Abd Ul-Rahman:

My suggestion. Lighten up on the loathing. So Quora Inc. is poorly managed. If I were a shareholder, I’d be screaming at them. However, that would stress my heart and I could fall over and die. Further, people rarely respond well to being loathed. Quora Inc. does not actually exist in reality, it’s a human concept and construct, but people who work for Quora may take it personally.


So, on the scale of problems in the world, of course Quora Inc doesn’t even rate. And I don’t spend night and day plotting their demise, honest I don’t. Even if it sounds like it. I haven’t even had the heart to do any more memes about Quora, on The Memes of Production; I’d be seeking out things to protest, if I did, and I don’t want to do that.

Moreover, I’ve started to make a conscious effort to be constructive in my criticisms. Especially on Rage Against Quora (I will not piss on the welcome mat in Tatiana’s house), but even in general. Yes, the spikiness is still there in my criticisms back on my own turf; but I try not to seek it out, and honestly I wish I got less A2As on it. I didn’t join Quora to protest an admin team.

So what is it that gets me so annoyed? At a secondary remove, the apparent mismanagement, sure; and that’s been sharpened by conversation with Scott Welch, who after all has excellent insights in how to run an IT-based company. But that’s secondary.

And it’s not because I’ve been impacted all that much by misfires on Quora. I got no moderation notices my first 15 months here. Whatever UI misfeatures impact me, they’re just annoyances.

It’s because I have formed friendships here. And I am indignant on behalf of my friends, when they are mis-targeted, or put out, or frustrated.

And because I made a conscious decision. I am IRL a meek person. A conformist. Part of the problem, if you will. I decided that here, to maintain my self-respect, I would speak out more at what I see as unfair. Maybe because the stakes here are not all that high, ultimately. Maybe because online it’s easier.

Yes, it likely has backfired with the humans behind Quora Inc. I haven’t had outright snark from them yet, but I may yet. And yes, this may cost me the TW, although you know, the TW honestly isn’t that big a deal. Then again, if they curate a community, they have a responsibility to be aware of the problems the community has. I do try to speak more for them than for me.

And just as you put together the Quora Users Free Association (which I was aware of), I put together Necrologue. To serve the community where it was not being served, although in different ways.

But yes, you are entirely right. Be the change, don’t let any struggle consume you, and keep perspective. Thank you for pulling me up on this.

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