The Final Appeal

In May you never see this, I published the notice of a rejected appeal against a ban. As many commented, this final notice was as vague as moderation ever is.

It is not apparently advertised on Quora as much as it used to be, but long-time users of Quora know that one can go outside the normal process of appeals, and lodge a final appeal of moderation decisions with the permanent staff member tasked with moderation. On occasion, this staff member has found that sanctions have been meted out in error, and conceded as much publicly. More often, according to her own posts, the staff member finds that the sanction was correct, but its severity was excessive.

And some times, she finds that the judgement was correct, and that the final appeal should be rejected.

I have been made privy to the response to the result of the final appeal from said staff member, to the ban in question. I haven’t sought permission to republish its wording, and I won’t. But I’ll give Quora Moderation its due here.

The rejection of the final appeal that I have sighted enumerates:

  • The (quite high) number of BNBR notices given to the user during their time on Quora
  • The number of official warnings given
  • The number of edit blocks administered
  • The fact that receipt of those warnings was clicked for acknowledgement

The rejection of the final appeal also indicates that the staff member has reviewed the last n policy violations, and finds them to be correct; and that the persistent violations indicate that the recipient has not been able to “self-correct”, despite the “clear message” sent to them and acknowledged by their click.

I continue to think that there is a lot about Quora Moderation is broken. I continue not to think they are doing as good a job as the community deserves with high profile cases, or with their messaging. And I continue not to think that they are as cautious about bans as they should be.

But having seen this, I’ll concede. The rejection of the final appeal looked like a fair judgement to me.

(And, FWIW, to the recipient.)

Damnatio Memoriae

Nick Nicholas’ answer to Can you write a limerick about a Quoran?, July 24.

Masiello. Pegah. Jimmy Liu.
Sophie Dockx. Laura Hale. Ulrich, too.
de Guzman. Lisa Lai.
Jian Sun. By and by,
all are gone.

And then, me.

And then:


Mary C. Gignilliat

You are breaking my heart.

Having banned Mary Gignilliat last week, Quora has just seen fit to delete the question “What is your opinion about Mary Gignilliat,” a week later.

The only answer on there that anyone might consider questionable was Michaelis Maus’, saying that she wasn’t as radical as she thought she was. Mary initially took offence at this, but they were able to work it out, and ended up on good terms with each other. Of course, Michaelis has just been banned too.

Whoever reported this question for deletion is, in my personal opinion, a ghoul, and I find this kind of erasing of personhood from Quora offensive. But of course, this is the site that deletes profiles from banned users, and makes them unsearchable. Erasing of personhood is what Quora does.

We’ve agreed to be fungible here. Even if it doesn’t say so in the Terms Of Service.

Why are questions from banned accounts filling my “Top Stories For You” emails?

Because the notion that the content of everyone banned on Quora is unworthy of being read is a regressive and untenable notion, and Quora itself acknowledges that. Users get banned for any number of reasons. Some of the best damn content on this site has been produced by users who have subsequently been banned. A website that would choose to repress forever all the content of Michaelis Maus or Mary C. Gignilliat or Glenn Rocess or Bill Streifer or Taza Gul Kamran Khattak or Basil Fondu—to mention only people banned in the last week—is not a website I want any part of.

At this point, I would normally say “Downvote what you don’t want to see, and upvote what you do.” Curating your feed is how to stay sane on this site, and it does actually work. You’re reporting that your problem is with the Quora Digest, though, which you don’t have as much control over. While I was not that impressed by the Quora Digest myself when I gave up on it, “garbage questions from banned accounts” suggests that your digest email is full of troll questions. The Quora bots are dumb, but I’m surprised if they’re that dumb.

But the Quora Digest you receive is still customised to the preferences you evidence while logged in to Quora. I’d suggest suspending subscription to the digest for a few weeks, some enthusiastic downvoting and muting of topics and content you don’t want to know about, and resubscribing afterwards, and seeing if it makes any difference.

Which city is better Athens or Thessaloniki?

What are the main differences, i heard Thessaloniki is more cosmopolitan

Oddly enough, my wife (who is not in any way Greek) spontaneously said Salonica was cosmopolitan when she visited it. So there’s something to that.

The hostility between Athens and Salonica within the Modern Greek state is of very long standing: Salonica was incorporated into Modern Greece in 1913, and three years later it was the capital of a government rivalling Athens during the National Schism.

As with all such rivalries between the First and the Second city or country, it consumes the Second, and is blithely ignored by the First. My relatives in Salonica would mutter darkly to me about how Athens diverted all resources away from the North, and how the Salonica Metro would never finish, and how proud they are that “AMAN The Scumbags” were the only national TV show filmed in Salonica, dammit (and their subsequent incarnation Radio Arvyla still is).

Athens’ reaction to all that, of course, would be… “Oh, they have a TV studio up there? How adorable.”

Michalis Rizos’ answer (one of the very few pro-Athens) points out a truth: Salonica was cosmopolitan before WWI, and for a long time it was the more liberal and progressive of the two cities, but it became insular and downright claustrophobic for a while in the 90s. It is one of the oddities of Greek TV that I watched a quite intelligent and insightful discussion of Salonica’s turning inwards on Themos Anastasiadis’ chat show—in between the strippers and the facile mocking of politicians.

Thessalonica is a much loved and much-sung city. All together now, my fellow Greeks: you all know how these songs go.

My Thessalonica. Θεσσαλονίκη μου. Lyrics: Christos Kolokotronis. Music: Manolis Hiotis. 1955. Singers: Stelios Kazantzidis & Manolis Hiotis.

My Thessalonica, great mother of the poor!
You who give forth the finest people.
My Thessalonica, great mother of the poor!
Wherever I go I have you in my heart!

I’ll never deny you, my Thessalonica!
You’re my home, I say it and I feel proud!

Beautiful Thessalonica. Όμορφη Θεσσαλονίκη. Lyrics & Music: Vasilis Tsitsanis. 1950. Singer: Glykeria.

You’re the pride of my heart,
sweet, beautiful Thessalonica.
And even if I live in Athens the temptress,
I sing of you every evening.

Oh! Beautiful Thessalonica!
Oh! How I miss your magical evenings!

Salonicans don’t love it when Athenians love her patronisingly (“the most romantic city of the Balkans”), but Salonica is lovely and loveable. There was a brief time around 2008 when I fell out of love with her (stumbling over Salonica Metro roadworks), but the restoration of the beachside promenade has made her the true Queen of Cities once again. My Salonican coauthor and I ended up dedicating our monograph to her.

Athens? Poor Athens. If you veer off the tourist haunts in Plaka and wander the backstreets, you’ll see that Athens used to be lovely once too, in the 1890s. But Athens is now a machine for living in, much like a Le Corbusier edifice. It has nice bits. And it has the fearsome heritage of the Classics. But it doesn’t gel into something lovable, like Salonica does. It’s too busy encompassing half the population of a country.

It’s true that there are plenty of songs about Athens too; Αναζήτηση στίχων ( αθήνα ). I just didn’t know any of them. Many of them struck the same tone as those two Salonica hits I posted. Yet this song—another I’d never heard of, even if it was sung by the inevitable George Dalaras—gives you a taste of what a mixed blessing the town is. A very brackish taste. Ignore the panegyric highlight images of the vid, and pay attention to the lyrics.

Athens. Αθήνα. Lyrics: Sotia Gatsou. Music: Christos Gartzos. 1978. Singer: George Dalaras.

I know a town where the ashphalt burns
and you’ll find no tree shade.
Great history, important ancestors,
the lantern of the world, and its tomb.

Athens, you remind me of a woman sobbing
because nobody desires her.
Athens, Athens, I die with you
and you die with me.

I know a town in the new Sahara,
a desert full of concrete.
Foreign fleets, smuggled cigarettes,
and children who don’t know how to play hide and seek.

I know a town in the land of the Abyss,
an island of pirates and winds.
In the streets of Plaka you sell your body
for one glass of wine.

What day of the week are sad songs associated with in your culture, and why?

I’m OP, and this question comes from a discussion I had with Evangelos Lolos at…

For Greek, it seems to be Sunday. Cloudy Sunday (Συννεφιασμένη Κυριακή), the #1 sad song for the postwar generation. I want it to be a Sunday (on the day I die) (Θέλω να είναι Κυριακή). Hammer and Anvil (Σφυρί κι αμόνι) compares the singer’s life to Good Friday Mass; but it also asks for a nightingale to console his Sunday.

As to why: I offered in that comment thread:

My guess it, the end of the weekend is when you have more free time contemplate things.

Evangelos replied:

As for Sundays and why they’re good songwriting material, I think you’re right, free time is certainly an element. I’d also add the fact that the next day is a working day (== sad) and that certain things in Greece mostly take place on a Sunday (football matches, weddings, elections etc.)

Is it possible to speak Klingon without sounding aggressive?

As Jarno Peschier’s answer says, the brief for Marc Okrand was to create an aggressive-sounding language, that would map onto the “Blakh Vakh Gakh” aggressive sounds James Doonan had made up for the first Star Trek movie. And Okrand accordingly went shopping for gutturals: /x, q, qχ, ʔ/ <H, q, Q, ’>. I guess you can add /tɬ/ <tlh> as an honorary guttural, because of its affrication.

Does a language full of gutturals have to sound aggressive at all times? I’m sure Tolkien would say yes—which is part of the reason I haven’t gotten into Elvish. (Cellar door. Pfft. That’s just effete.)

Well, look at languages that have one or more of those gutturals. Is it possible to speak Arabic without sounding aggressive? Chechen? Nahuatl? German?

The human spirit, much like intonation and pitch, is suprasegmental. A couple of gutturals aren’t going to make a mother’s lullaby sound any less soothing to a baby.

I wrote a Crown of sonnets 22 years ago. It was a love poem sequence. The frontispiece was in Klingon. Here’s my reading of it. You tell me.

Rachel’s Crown