Featured Comments Gone?

Did Quora just get rid of featured comments? has been up for a week, and the three users who have answered it to date haven’t had featured/recommended comments for a week. To their relief.

So… which is the bug, and which the feature? That I don’t have featured comments? Or that John Gragson still does? (Quora’s ML comment ‘featuring’ system is not cool.)

Note also that there’s three iterations of the feature (or bug): Original Comments, Featured/Other, and Recommended/All. If Susan Bertolino and John have just been moved from Featured/Other to Recommended/All, then I shouldn’t be optimistic…

What’s the difference between Res extensa and Res corporea?

Not a philosopher by any stretch, but if I can decipher my Googlings of Heidegger’s interpretations of Descartes correctly:

The res corporea “the bodily substance” is defined in opposition to the res cogitans “the thinking substance”. Applied to people, it is the human body as opposed to the mind. The defining attribute of the res corporea is its extensio: the fact that it has physical dimensions, and thus, physical existence—something it shares with all physically existing things, but not with the mind, the soul, or God.

So the res corporea “human bodies” are a subset of all res extensa “things that have physical dimensions”. Descartes uses res corporea and res extensa interchangeably, since he is defining mind vs body. Heidegger uses res extensa separately from res corporea, as he’s defining not just mind vs body, but the physical world (which consists of more than just human bodies).

What made Greeks invent Asia and Europe concept?

Nick Nicholas’ answer to What was the reason people created the Europe Idea while it is not separate from Asia?

What people created the notion of Europe? Ancient Greeks.

Where did the Ancient Greeks live? On the border between Asia and Europe.

The Ancient Greeks had not circumnavigated the Arctic (and they didn’t believe a word Pytheas said). The Ancient Greeks did not know anything about the Urals. The Ancient Greeks did not even know what a continent was.

All they knew was, there was stuff to the East of them, stuff to the South of them, and stuff to the Northwest of them. They called each a different name. And to them, the Aegean Sea (and I guess the Black Sea) were as big a divider of landmass as the Mediterranean is. Remember: they did not know about the Urals. And they wouldn’t really have cared.

What is the term for a word that has been lent, and then taken back?


Less commonly, a native word may be borrowed into a foreign language, then reborrowed back into the original language, existing alongside the original term. An English example is animation and anime “Japanese animation”, which was reborrowed from Japanese アニメ anime. Such a word is sometimes called a Rückwanderer (German for “one who wanders back”). (Doublet (linguistics) – Wikipedia)

What is the origin of the terms “Bourazeris” and “Vlamis”, obsolete from the 21st century Greek language?

The Triantafyllidis dictionary is online:

βλάμης [vlamis] “blood brother” < Albanian vlam: Λεξικό της κοινής νεοελληνικής. Obsolete, but certainly familiar from rebetiko and later songs. The 1951 song Παλαμάκια is probably the best known instance of the word—or rather, of its feminine vlamissa:

μπουραζέρης [burazeris], variant μπραζέρης [brazeris], was not familiar to me, and is not in Triantafyllidis. But it is in the Papyros dictionary, which is available (unattributed) online: μπουραζέρης. It is glossed as “blood brother”, and also derived from Albanian. (I recognise burrë ‘man’.)

The term occurs mostly as a surname in Google, but I found an instance of it in its literal meaning here: Ο λεοντόκαρδος και ακατάβλητος οπλαρχηγός Μ.Μπότσαρης . It mentions Theodoros Kolokotronis becoming blood brother of Markos Botsaris during the Greek War of Independence. Not coincidentally, Botsaris was ethnic Albanian (and not Arvanite: Souli is across the border from Modern Albania), and he wrote one of the earliest dictionaries of Albanian.

I note this article online: Αδελφοποιΐα – Βλάμης (Μπραζέρης)

Στην Ήπειρο, κι όχι μόνο, λέγονται βλάμηδες «από την αλβανική λέξη βλαμ» και μετά την αδελφοποίηση «οι βλάμηδες» το γιορτάζουν με φαγοπότι και χορό. Στη Μακεδονία και στη Θεσσαλία λέγονται μπράτιμοι «από βουλγαρική λέξη» και στην Πελοπόννησο μπουραζέρηδες ή μπραζέρηδες.

In Epirus and beyond, blood brothers are called vlamides, from the Albanian word vlam, and after the ritual vlamides celebrated with feasting and dancing. In Macedonia and Thessaly they are called bratimi, from a Bulgarian word, and in the Peloponnese they are called burazerides or brazerides.

EDIT: the Standard Albanian equivalents are given in Kelvin Zifla’s answer to What is the origin of the terms “Bourazeris” and “Vlamis”, obsolete from the 21st century Greek language? and in User-13249930999434776143’s comment below: vëllam, byrazer.

What do you think of the Urban Dictionary’s definitions of Quora? If you added your own definition, what would it be?

Whenever I see too many people agreeing on something in their own interest here, I grow contrarian. It brings out the inner Michaelis Maus in me; there are uses to nihilism.

Others have spoken well, and to applause, about the anti-intellectualism and bias of the Urban Dictionary definitions. Michael Masiello has conceded in comments that there is plenty of vapidity on Quora, but that the anti-intellectualism of the Urban Dictionary definitions is the greater enemy.

I’ve given up on anti-intellectualism as something I can have any engagement with. Fight with the dullards of Urban Dictionary? Why bother? As we say in Greek, “from the miller’s wife’s arse, one expects no orthography.” But I do expect better of the vapid than of the stupid, and I’m going to be contrarian about this.

I’ll do my own close reading of the infamous first definition, and I’ll ignore its stylistic infelicities:

The internet’s self-conscious act of intellectual validity and authority.

Well, https://www.quora.com/about:

Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. […] We want to connect the people who have knowledge to the people who need it, to bring together people with different perspectives so they can understand each other better, and to empower everyone to share their knowledge for the benefit of the rest of the world.

Quora Inc claims authority, and markets itself as such—whatever its actual users are doing. There’s a fair bit of hubris in that mission, and in those aligning to that mission—particularly in the notion (naive in so many fields) that there is a best or right answer to a question, and that that answer is to be had here.

Unsurprisingly primarily self-centered and authoritarian instead of rational.

This could be the response of a disgruntled libertarian, but the same Quora Inc would tell you that the Quora users had no business making the libertarian feel like that to begin with, because users should be made to feel welcome regardless of their ideology: hence Bodnick saying that BNBR applied to Trump during the election campaign.

Appeal to authority, to self-interest, or to one’s own righteousness in political debate are certainly nothing to take pride in—even if right wingers’ construct of “rationality” is often blinkered.

Some of the more objective or positive entries might at first make one assume that most people there are not just as insufferable as anywhere else and like any community on the internet,

Hold on to that concession. Have we not all felt that Quora is better than other fora, because of the elevated level of discourse, the relative civility, the conscious exercise of scholarship and objectivity?

albeit maybe at the same time with an even more all-encompassing entitlement and smug self-satisfaction.

… and have we then not all been disappointed to see that some popular writers here are still smug, self-righteous, know-it-alls speaking outside their domains of knowledge, and hostile to any questioning of their premises?

Surely it isn’t just me.

And assume that the triviality of most of the questions would be self-aware and not lost on most of the people.

The bizarre use of “self-aware” notwithstanding, have users not been complaining about the quality of questions, and political questions particularly, for years?

Highly restrictive, not only in the artificial question and answer format,

Is the Q & A format not restrictive? Quora is not Medium; that’s why blogs on Quora exist. That’s why plenty of users use the questions as springboards rather than as requests for information. And let’s not even get started on Survey Questions, solicitations of anecdote rather than answers to questions—which are so contrary to what Quora thought it was about, they were on limdist for the first few years of the site.

You can retort that if you came to write on Quora, you came to answer questions, and if you want Medium, you know where to find it; yet there is clear evidence here of people wiggling against those constraints.

but also the ultra-strict length limitations

Hands up who has come up against the length limits on questions or question details. Even if you accept the rationale for them, they are restrictive, and Quora users feel those restrictions.

and rampant auto-correct functions, Content Review and straightforward censorship.

I’ve seen answers decrying the protest against censorship, as being democratic or in the cause of moderation decency. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone praising Quora’s auto-correct, topic bot, and certainly not Quora Content Review. And radicals of both left and right will tell you how tone policing and sanctions on speech is a repressive instrument that quashes dissent and advocacy of change.

I think BNBR is overall a useful thing too, sure; but do not pretend BNBR is politically neutral, or that Silicon Valley corporations are, just because they aren’t an arm of the US Government.

Moderation is more concerned with keeping up appearances than with moral tasks, consistency and transparency.

I’m actually not convinced Moderation is particularly concerned with appearances either, although I can see why a right-winger taken to task for the vehemence of their opinions might think so. And I certainly would not entrust morality policing to Quora moderators or mod bots, just as Quora itself is reluctant to.

But complaints about Moderation consistency are legion, and have been for years; and Moderation is notoriously not transparent by design.

Sanctimonious, arrogant, prejudiced and irrational and with a cult-like devotion to their brand and policy taken literally and subjectively.

I’ve seen all of this here. Again: haven’t you?

Actual psychopaths, either self-proclaimed in order to effectively show off or those whose practices are harboured there, are the hipsters of the place.

… Yeah, ok, that last bit made no sense. 🙂

And what would I offer to Urban Dictionary?

To its users, Quora is a site where people who think they are clever write essays answering questions. Often in dot points, sometimes good. Quora is smarter than Yahoo Answers, more unfocussed than Stack Exchange, and less free-flowing than Reddit.

To its owners, Quora is a Google Trap that is going to make them gajillions of bucks in perpetuity.

What do you think of the Quora community?

There is not one community. Something anticipated as far back as 2010: Seb Paquet’s answer to Does Quora actually need a community? There are clear splits in the community, enabled by the fact that different Quora users see very different feeds, determined by the topics and people they follow.

quora numbers by the departed Laura Hale demonstrated this with what statistics she could glean, and it is corroborated in all your experience. American Quora users notoriously know very little of what happens in the Indian Quora, and their demographics and interests are vastly different. Most Quora users have no idea who the Discord teens are, or who the Insurgents are. I certainly know very little of the Venture Capital old core of Quora.

What are the unusual punctuation marks in your language?

Survey question, and I’m looking forward to someone bringing up the Amharic sarcasm mark.

Greek punctuation functionally corresponds to English punctuation—mostly.

  • Upper dot <·> corresponds to semicolon.
  • In Ancient Greek typography, the upper dot is usually also used in the function of the English colon. Modern Greek typography uses the colon.
  • Ancient punctuation had a middle dot as well as an upper dot, for different length pauses. Modern typography does not differentiate a middle dot from the upper dot.
  • The Greek interrogative is identical to the Latin semicolon <;>.
  • Quotation marks in Modern Greek typography have traditionally been the French guillemets <« »>. Through English influence, you will now see more English double quotes.
  • Like French, Greek uses the quotation dash <―>.
  • There is a native counterpart to the ampersand, the kai ligature <ϗ>, but it is no longer in wide use.
  • Abbreviations are occasionally marked with double prime <″>, although that is quite old fashioned. The only instance anyone living is likely to have seen is Χ″ as an abbreviation of the surname prefix Χατζη- “Hatzi-”; e.g. Χ″μάρκου “Hatzimarkou”. Much more common now is the solidus </>; e.g. παν/μειο = πανεπιστήμειο “university”, Κων/πολη = Κωνσταντινούπολη “Constantinople”.

What are Quora’s rules about naming specific Quora users in a Quora blog?

As is so often the case, Quora’s policy is vague enough to need interpretation, and this is a question that I welcome Christopher VanLang’s feedback to.

The chapter and verse is:

Quora’s answer to Does Quora enforce its moderation policies on blog content and comments?

Blogs on Quora are generally unmoderated. Most policies that apply to question-and-answer pages do not apply to blogs.

The catch is,

1. Blogs whose primary purpose is to attack, insult, and/or derogatorily label people are not allowed.

That appears to me to be a higher bar than BNBR: there is, I would think, some breathing room between “nice” and “attack”, and there is some room between “blog whose primary purpose is to attack” and “occasional post which attacks”. But I don’t know what the test cases have been.

2. Blogs which aren’t aimed at attacking people but still have a purpose of attacking content will no longer generate notifications or repost trackbacks.

Which means that attacking bad content is allowed, it’s just not particularly facilitated.

Were Trojans Greek?

Troy – Wikipedia

After the 1995 find of a Luwian biconvex seal at Troy VII, there has been a heated discussion over the language that was spoken in Homeric Troy. Frank Starke of the University of Tübingen recently demonstrated that the name of Priam, king of Troy at the time of the Trojan War, is connected to the Luwian compound Priimuua, which means “exceptionally courageous”. “The certainty is growing that Wilusa/Troy belonged to the greater Luwian-speaking community,” although it is not entirely clear whether Luwian was primarily the official language or in daily colloquial use. (Latacz, Joachim (2004). Troy and Homer: Towards a Solution of an Old Mystery. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 116)

See also Trojan language – Wikipedia

Greek legend gives further indications on the subject of language at Troy. For one thing, the allies of Troy, listed at length in the Trojan Battle Order which closes book 2 of the Iliad, are depicted as speaking various languages and thus needing to have orders translated to them by their commanders (2.802-6). Elsewhere in the poem (4.433–38) they are compared to sheep and lambs bleating in a field as they talk together in their different languages. The inference is that, from the Greek point of view, the languages of Trojans and their allied neighbors were not as unified as those of the Achaeans.