Who are some people on Quora you love to debate?

Here, then, are my nominees for Quorans offering me the most gentle yet most relentless disagreement. The people to whom I exclaim, “God I hate it when you’re right.” (And they tend to counter, “You don’t, actually.”)

When and why did Quora start making banned user-profiles inaccessible?

When: January 2017:

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


Well of course Quora isn’t going to explain its implementation of moderation policies here. That is not the Quora way.

At the time, I guessed and dismissed some rationales here:

Natural Justice by Nick Nicholas on The Insurgency

What percentage of Greek Macedonians were Slavophones in the early 1900’s?

We have statistics published in a Belgian magazine from 1912 (De Godsdiensten op den Balkan.), just before the Balkan wars divided up Macedonia, and cited in Manastir Vilayet – Wikipedia and Salonica Vilayet – Wikipedia. Of course, the Ottoman Vilayets do not coincide with the modern borders: Salonica Vilayet is now 3/4 Modern Greece, 1/4 Bulgaria; Manastir Vilayet is 1/2 Greece, 1/2 FYRO Macedonia.

The stats in 1912 were:

  • Salonica Vilayet: Orthodox Greeks: 168k, Orthodox + Muslim Bulgarians: 144k
  • Manastir Vilayet: Orthodox Greeks: 62k, Orthodox + Muslim Bulgarians: 355k

As a result of the Balkan wars, Slavic-speakers in the part of the erstwhile Salonica Vilayet that was incorporated into Greece were subject to population exchanges with Bulgaria. As Niko Vasileas’ answer reports, that involved 66k Slavic-speakers; Slavic speakers of Greek Macedonia – Wikipedia puts the total from 1900–1920 at over 100k. People who read me here will be familiar with my constant quoting of The Tale Of The Stairs; its author, Hristo Smirnenski, was born in Kilkis (Bulgarian Kukush), now in Greece.

The Slavic-speakers in the part of the erstwhile Manastir Vilayet that was incorporated into Greece were not subject to population exchange, and they constitute the Slavonic-speaking minority present in Western Greek Macedonia.

Slavic speakers of Greek Macedonia – Wikipedia:

The 1928 census recorded 81,844 Slavo-Macedonian speakers or 1.3% of the population of Greece, distinct from 16,755 Bulgarian speakers. Contemporary unofficial Greek reports state that there were 200,000 “Bulgarian”-speaking inhabitants of Macedonia, of whom 90,000 lack Greek national identity. The bulk of the Slavo-Macedonian minority was concentrated in West Macedonia. The census reported that there were 38,562 of them in the nome of Florina or 31% of the total population and 19,537 in the nome of Edessa (Pella) or 20% of the population. According to the prefect of Florina, in 1930 there were 76,370 (61%), of whom 61,950 (or 49% of the population) lacked Greek national identity.

Of course, the 1928 census was conducted after the 1922 population exchanges, where Muslims in Greece were exchanged with Christians from Anatolia speaking Greek, Turkish, and in one idiosyncratic instance Bulgarian (Ἡλληνιστεύκοντος). The majority of arriving refugees settled in Macedonia, though the majority of departing refugees were also from Macedonia. So the proportions reported in the 1928 are likely smaller than they were in 1920.

That said, the prefectures of Florina and Pella were not traditionally Greek-speaking at all: the Greek–Slavic linguistic boundary ran south of them, halfway through Kastoria and Kozani, and most of Thessaloniki prefectures. (See the description in Sandfeld’s Linguistique Balkanique.) See e.g. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wik…

What fraction of your BNBR appeals were successful? Can you share some of them?

3 out of 4.

What does ‘withholding answers’ mean on Quora?

To those confused: yes, it’s my coinage over at the Necrologue, and Heather Jedrus’ answer nails it. Sorry about the confusion: as comments at Heather’s answer have ably dissected it, the blog reports not only punishments, but also reasons for users voluntarily reducing or ceasing activity on Quora, that have to do with reactions to Quora as opposed to Real Life.

Category definitions by Nick Nicholas on Necrologue

  • User-triggered
    • […]
    • Quit: The user has made an explicit statement that they will no longer participate in Quora. Where publicly available, such statements will henceforth be linked to from the post itself. Bear in mind that users have various reasons for declining to participate in Quora.
    • Reducing Participation: The user has made an explicit statement that they are reducing the level of their engagement on Quora. Where publicly available, such statements will henceforth be linked to from the post itself.
    • Withholding Answers: The user has made an explicit statement that they will no longer answer questions on Quora. They will still do other actions on Quora, such as comment or message. Where publicly available, such statements will henceforth be linked to from the post itself.

The canonical instance of Withholding Answers is Matthew Sutton, who has participated on Quora only through comments for the past two years:

I’ve returned to Quora after a 3 mo. edit block (10/2014–1/2015) for answers apparently considered not-helpful by moderators. I’ve decided to keep my account open before being banned from the site permanently; consequently contributions will be kept to a minimum going forward. As a passive user of the site I won’t be accepting A2As and upvoted content may be deleted at any time.

This question has been asked because I’ve used the term to describe Michael Masiello’s “hiatus that may turn into a quietus”. I picked a description that came short of being “quit”, and Michael was clear that he would still be checking messages here (and had still been writing comments).

Do Top Writers or verified people have some privilege on Quora?

Top Writers:

That’s it to my knowledge. There are other classes of privilege for users on Quora, but they do not extend to all Top Writers:

  • Trusted Reporting (Quora feature): the ability to instacollapse any answer.
  • Access to the Facebook Writers Feedback group, and (presumably) greater access to Quora staff.
  • Being one of the tableful of Quora users that get pulled for actual consultation by Quora staff during meetups.
  • It is unknown whether Top Writer status on its own increases one’s PeopleRank (Quora feature).

Then of course there is the perception of privilege by the community, which is a vexed issue, but a distinct one.

Did the Greeks in Athens see the Anatolian Greek refugees as Turks after the Greece-Turkey population exchange?

There was indeed nativist animus against the Anatolian Greeks arriving in Greece in 1922. The term used wasn’t Turks, but it was τουρκόσποροι, “Turk seed” (i.e. born among or from Turks).

Ο Αγκόπ στην Αφγανιστανούπολη reproduces some anti-refugee rhetoric in the Vradyni newspaper of 1923. To translate:

It is incredible how quickly these myriads upon myriads of arrivals gain rights which we natives do not have in our own country. As soon as they arrive, before they even know what street they are on, they head to the central welfare agency. And they like nothing in our unfortunate country, except for the central welfare agency. (1 Dec 1923)

(Parodying the dialect of “two formerly unredeemed” refugees.)

Eleftherios Venizelos with empty hands will not come. Will bring us money, will bring us Pastirma for to eat. Must come Venizelos.
Aman canım (Alas, dear). He come, why he not come, because we will eat.
Yaşasın Venezuelo (Long Live Venizelos). Yaşasın President. (3 Dec 1923)

A caricatured refugee in the newspaper is named Hagop Hemhemhemdendendenjerenrenrennenrenrencoğlu. [Hagop is of course Armenian for Jacob.]

—My good man, why don’t you get a simpler surname? Abacoğlu, Cabacoğlu, Arpaktoğlu, Venizeloğlu? [Coatmakerson, Freeloaderson, Grabwhatyoucanson, Venizelosson]?

—What you will give me so I take name Demokratiezoğlu? (3 Jan 1924)

And a piece headed “Afganistanopolis”, 3 Dec 1923, laments how Athens has ended up a shanty town:

But since those who have piled in arriving in Athens and Peiraeus insist on settling in those two cities, though their erstwhile abode was some insignificant village, they all demand to occupy its most central locales, with their trays of goods, their huts, their fried liver, their cod, their halva, their galaktoboureko, their sacks and their belts.

We have thus ended up a town of Afganistan, while there was no need for it, and though such a state is undesirable. (…) We have become so accustomed to this depravity as a normal expression of Athenian life, that we think it an irregularity to see the authorities appear without wearing a turban. Se we advise all our city officials to start wearing turbans, as well as robes with a hookah pipe in hand. What sort of leaders of Afganistanopolis can these men be, while still wearing ties and hats?

EDIT: as Achilleas Vortselas points out in comments, there was violence, robbery, and murder against refugees in Macedonia; excerpts from the contemporary press are included in Σφαγές στην Τουρκία, τρόμος στην Ελλάδα.

Can I use word ‘ζωναρου’ in a Greek text for a female belt maker, or is zonarou idiomatic and maybe too demotic?

Ζωναρού would be the feminine of ζωναράς; that is the word for “belt-maker”, but it is far more common as a surname than as a profession. The feminine is grammatically correct, but you’re right, -ού feminines are now regarded as pejorative, because they are old-fashioned, and in olden times women either didn’t exercise professions, or exercised looked-down on professions—or else the suffix denoted a professional’s wife.


  • μυλωνάς > μυλωνού “miller’s wife” (known from the proverb “from the miller’s wife’s arse, one expects no orthography”)
  • καφετζής > καφετζού “café owner’s wife; fortune teller reading coffee cups”
  • (modern, but unfortunately also pejorative) στριπτιζτζού “stripper” (as a peculiar mélange of English, Turkish, and Greek: striptease + Turkish – > Greek –dzis + Feminine Suffix –u).

All of them with negative connotations.

What’s a less stigmatised feminine? All of them would be awkward, but ζωνάρισσα is the least awkward to my ears.