Bodnick vs Nicholas: the wager…


I’ll reiterate what I said under your cited answer here. It’s a truism that all online communities run out of steam. Including this one. Despite how much the UX does or doesn’t innovate.

When the company goes to war with its users as often as Quora does, that might limit the community’s shelf life whatever twiddling to the UX they do. But you’re betting on more new writers coming in than old ones flaming out, and so far, it’s worked.

Your answer claimed that Quora will do better than Wikipedia, because Quora keeps innovating in its UX. (Some of us naysayers have more colourful ways of describing what Quora keeps doing to its UX.) Well, Wikipedia predates Quora by a decade. Let’s talk about Quora in a decade, Marc.


Seems like there is a handsome opportunity to create value. Want to make a wager?


You’re on. 100 USD, 2027–08–09, that Quora will have less Alexa share then than now.

I will likely not be on Quora by then, but I am betting that Google still will, so: opoudjis at Gmail

Bet’s off if Quora is acquired. I win if Quora no longer exists. And I’ll pay up if I’m wrong.


I’m in.


I’m forwarding this exchange to The Insurgency, because I want witnesses.

EDIT: Current Alexa ranking of Quora: #112.

Alix contra Bodnick

From René Alix, comment on my repost of Bodnick predicting demise of Wikipedia. Several insights I think deserve wider readership.…

A lot of smart people I know feel the way I do, but aren’t willing to say so publicly.

I see; “lurkers support him in email” <scoff>; smart ones too, not idiots like the rest of us. You’d think Wikipedia had imposed a totalitarian state upon us all and Bodnick was leading the underground intelligentsia.

Pretty ridiculous notions about people not daring to say anything bad about Wikipedia, when a simple search shows exactly the opposite. Sure, there are apologists who will defend anything; Quora has plenty of those itself. But AFAIK various Wikipedia critique has pretty much been constant and wide spread, for years — and nobody I know is afraid to say anything. I am certainly not. Heck, Wikipedia has comprehensive pages about it: Criticism of Wikipedia. People have written papers on it, done academic studies. After all, what can Wikipedia do stop us; they have zero power over us.

IMO Wikipedia is somewhat better now than it was 10 years ago. I don’t see the degradation. It also has scale, which means editors who burn out are replaced by new ones (though it could certainly do even better at retaining editors; the rules are byzantine). And no, I am not an apologist; I find Wikipedia extremely useful (much more useful than Quora, which is IMO never going to be a replacement), but I am not at all blind to its shortcomings.

Innovation is great; most of my life I’ve worked at the cutting edge of it, in the service of creating better software for users who are themselves at the cutting edge of entertainment (in film and games). But innovation just so you can brag about being innovative, innovation for innovation’s sake? Not so desirable. Serious users don’t like that sort of thing in their UX. They do in fact resist it; hard. And if you develop software people pay a lot of money for, you notice that real quick. Quora seems to do too much innovation for innovation’s sake (excepting the AI aspects). I don’t see them doing much for the experience of their actual users at all, rather I see them ignoring most of the common complaints in order to futz around with aspects that nobody I’ve ever seen has requested any change on. If they actually had to make money from selling their product to their users, they’d be singing a different tune. The lack of communication with users in itself is pretty disastrous when it comes to innovation that is supposed to help the user. Quora doesn’t even obey the most basic rules. Keeping people perpetually off balance is not innovative.

But we already know who the real customers are — not the users — so it all makes sense. Razzle dazzle buzzwords draw investors and advertisers.

In fact one of the most successful aspects of user experience in recent years has been gamification. But Quora has removed some of its own and hasn’t replaced it with anything fun — the credit system is gone, and the only things left are the Quill (out of reach for most of us, for which the rules are arbitrary; never a good thing), upvotes/downvotes on individual answers (about which we are not fully informed and which are impossible to keep track of), and followers (this is probably the most “true” metric, but I can’t say it does much for me (might need to unpack why not some time)). All of Quora’s assessment that goes into how high our answers float is completely hidden.

I was just reminded of how ridiculously motivating it can be to gather points and levels/badges (if I understand exactly how I’ve earned them) when I started answering questions on TheQuestion and Fluther, both of which have reputation scores. I know how silly that is, and still it motivates me. Fluther also has levelling of sorts. All very cute, probably too cute for the more academic of Quora’s users, certainly a bit twee for me, but it makes me feel oddly cared for, particularly in contrast with Quora’s complete disregard for me as a person.

Why is “cunt” considered very offensive in the US but not in Australia?

Originally Answered:

Why is the word ‘cunt’ so offensive in America?

Because in America, as distinct from the Commonwealth, cunt is a reductive description of women, when used as an epithet. In the Commonwealth, the epithet mainly refers to men. It is certainly strong, but it can and is used jocularly, and even as a coarse affectionate term (if qualified with an adjective: e.g. clever cunt).

So in the Commonwealth, the word violates one taboo, and a minor one at that nowadays: sex. In the US, it also violates the much more salient contemporary taboo of misogyny.

Why are so many people upset that Quora removed the question details?

There are consistently changes in functionality without warning on Quora; the roll out of new anonymity was the only exception recently. Of course, if you don’t know about the blog Quora Product Updates, that doesn’t make much difference.

(There was warning about this change from German and Italian Quora, which had no question details from the beginning, but few would have been aware of it.)

There is always much push back against sudden feature changes. But this time was quite unusual, even before Bad Hombre Bot (as Viola Yee called it), the spurious attribution of question details to whoever last edited them. The pushback included a lot of high ranking users, including users that normally defend Quora. The Top Writer Facebook lounge was baying for blood, reportedly.

The severity of this time is less to do with the suddenness of the change, I believe, and more with how it impacts users’ aims for using the site. This was not just a UX tweak: this went to the core of what Quora is used for.

And remember: users use any website for their own purposes, not for D’Angelo’s. Hence me alluding in comments elsewhere to Die Lösung.

A lot of question askers needed details to make the answer useful to them, whether because of personal particulars, or because of of the specificity of the question.

Question details are not necessarily as salient to those writing an answer, particularly as many of us use questions as prompts for writing rather than as pleas for assistance. But clearly, a lot of users really do treat questions as the latter. So the change got in the way of them feeling they were able to be helpful.

Even those that weren’t as invested in those two aims were surprised at such a disruptive change. The Mantra of Reusable Questions was known, but many questions ignored it in practice, and most users didn’t mind it being ignored, given the two benefits I’ve mentioned. This change was not just an annoyance: it was a reduction in users’ freedom of action. Even if they weren’t going to make use of it, users aren’t going to like that.

The changeover was handled abysmally, and should be a classroom example about how not to do things. (Much of how Quora does UX is, as Leonid S. Knyshov once mused.) But it’s the nature of the change, not its implementation, that made the uproar truly generalised this time.

What does the following phrase that I heard several times in central Greece mean, “tha paw na koitasthw” (“θα παω να κοιτασθω”)?

Dimitris Sotiropoulos reports in his answer that in some areas of Central Greece, this means “I will go to bed”. The normal meaning of the verb in modern Greek is “to look”, but the current accepted etymology of the verb is indeed from an ancient Greek verb for “to lie down”. This was not always the accepted etymology (it’s not terribly obvious, after all), which is why the verb used to be spelt as κυττάζω rather than κοιτάζω.

Dialects are often repositories of archaism, of course. In Cretan, “to lie down” is θέτω, a remodelling of ancient τίθημι “to set” — the meaning the verb was revived with in standard Greek.

OP’s expression will remind most Standard Greek speakers instead of the idiom να παίζει να κοιταχτείς, “you should go and get looked at”. Meaning “you’re crazy”. (The person who implicitly will do the looking at you is a psychiatrist.)

In what ways are Albanians in Greece mistreated?

My answer to this is a historical anecdote, but the quite informative answers here do talk about what happened in the 1990s, as well as what’s happening now.

The reports now are that Albanians are on the top of the totem pole of immigrant privilege. They are of course still below Western Europeans, who are treated as a separate category entirely—though I’m not sure if Greek goes as far as English, to have a separate word like ‘expat’ for them. Albanians now are well-regarded, as householders (νοικοκύρηδες) and small-businesspeople, even if they are still often regarded as the hired help rather than equal members of society.

I’ll add an anecdote from 1995 that left me puzzled.

I was in Greece for six months, doing archival research for my PhD, and staying with relatives. At the end of the first three months, I had to go to the local immigrant processing centre, to renew my visa. (I am an Australian citizen.)

The courtyard of the centre was chock-a-block full of Albanians, waiting to be processed for the holidays. None of them was being processed, and noone was going inside. I am Australian, so I believe in queues; so I hung about for maybe an hour, trying to listen in on the Albanian all around me. (From linguistic research, I knew a bit, though certainly not enough for listening in to work.)

After a while, one of the Albanians turned to me and said (in flawless Greek):

—You’re not Albanian, are you.

—… No, actually, I’m not.

—Well what are you waiting with us for? Go to the front.

… I guiltily skulked to the front. The doorman said:

—You’re not Albanian, are you.

—… No, actually, I’m not.

—Well what are you waiting with them for? Go inside.

Thinking back, it may well have been that there was no queue, and there was a designated Albanian processing time. Still, the fact that Albanians themselves pushed me to the front of the queue was something I found chilling.

Does the Georgian word ‘portokhali’ come from the Greek ‘portokali’?

As Konstantinos Konstantinides says, no, both come, likely independently, from words for Portugal:

Orange (fruit) – Wikipedia

As Portuguese merchants were presumably the first to introduce the sweet orange to some regions of Europe, in several modern Indo-European languages the fruit has been named after them. Some examples are Albanian portokall, Bulgarian портокал (portokal), Greek πορτοκάλι (portokali), Macedonian portokal, Persian پرتقال (porteghal), Turkish portakal and Romanian portocală. Related names can be found in other languages, such as Arabic البرتقال (bourtouqal), Georgian ფორთოხალი (p’ort’oxali), Turkish portakal and Amharic birtukan. Also, in some of the Italian regional languages (e.g. Neapolitan), an orange is portogallo or purtuallo, literally “(the) Portuguese (one)”, in contrast to the Italian arancia.