I seem to answer a question like this every few months. This is this trimester’s iteration:
- No transparency
- Low clarity
- The policies are often as vague as any article of the US constitution
- Low visibility
- No visibility of updates
- Nick Nicholas’ answer to What is Quora’s policy on adding images and videos to answers?
- No equity (consideration of circumstances)
- No accountability
- Worse still, if you aren’t aware of Tatiana’s email address or role as a user: random accountability. There are any number of moderation decisions that Tatiana has publicly repealed and apologised for, but only when they were pointed out to her in public. Most users don’t know who Tatiana is; and less do now than did 6 months ago. Whatever is happening with appeal, the normal avenues are clearly not always working or getting escalated up to her.
- Infantilising tone-policing, as part of BNBR
- Enforcement by robots
- Robotic enforcement (even if they aren’t robots)
- Culminating in Bodnick’s Bodnickism that moderation does not consider content when judging infractions. Not context. Content.
- Low community confidence in enforcement
- Widespread suspicion of selective enforcement
- I think we can all name the TWs who seem to repeatedly get away with murder. I’ve blocked most of them already.
- Breathtaking arrogance on the part of their defenders
- No, just because Quora is a private company does not mean it is morally neutral.
- No, just because Quora is a private company does not mean I should joyfully accept their constraints on my speech or others’.
- No, just because you follow the letter and not the spirit of BNBR does not make you a better person, argumentative and arrogant TW from my home town that I have already chosen to block, and who has expressed shock that people don’t do BNBR in real life. Thank God they don’t do BNBR the way you choose to, anyway.
- Breathtaking radio silence on the part of their implementers
- Although it’s not much better when they aren’t silent
… How would I fix it?
Going back to 2013 would be a start. There are things Achilleas Vortselas or Christopher VanLang or Tracey Bryan or Marcus Geduld have written here over the years as community moderators, that I’ve disagreed with. But when Marcus says that community mods used to agonise over decisions to ban people, I believed him, because I trust people who’ll show their face in public, and take accountability for what they do.
Trust in-sourced Quora Moderation, on the other hand? Whatever unholy mix of bots, contractors, and employees behind the curtain it may be? With so many visible errors and so little effort to restore trust in its processes? And with even former leads quite happy to throw them under the bus, as has happened on the pages of Cordially Resistant?
I’d fix Quora Moderation by having Quora be the kind of organisation that feels it is important to rebuild trust from its users. In fact, by having Quora be the kind of organisation that pays any attention to its users at all. Over and above giving a few of them a jacket and snacks, circulating the occasional SurveyMonkey form, or measuring their clicks when Quora makes the notifications menu piss-coloured.