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January 25, 2013 1:18 PM   Subscribe

Right before this post was deleted, I wrote up a bit of a rant about Quora for those interested, explaining my theory of how the site is structured and why it is evil.

If you're interested: Quora does something interesting and very, very evil that breaks the web. Notice how these pages show some of the content but not all of it? You'd expect this to be an overlay HTML element, right? No. What Quora is doing is indexing its own content (probably using Cairo) and scanning the text into PNG format so they can put a blur-radius overlay on top of it be absolutely certain that the public can't view it.

How do search engines crawl their content? Probably they have something built into their web app framework that puts relevant content on a CDN and monkeys around with 301 redirects and canonical URLs to make Google think it's serving up publicly available content when that's not what a human user will see. Since the web is built on the assumption that I can click on your link and get the contents (provided it is not secure content, like user login data), Quora is doing something ethically questionable here. I encourage you to block sites like Quora that refuse to "give away" their content without making you log in. It's one thing for a newspaper to put up a pay wall and require subscribers to have an account, quite another for a forum/Q&A site to force you to login via one of their spyware marketing "social media" partners. Pretty skeezy.
posted by deathpanels to Etiquette/Policy at 1:18 PM (109 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

What does this have to do with metafilter?
posted by dfriedman at 1:20 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


quite another for a forum/Q&A site to force you to login via one of their spyware marketing "social media" partners

Can't you just get a Quora login on the site itself? My whole gripe with them is how they basically remove attribution from who asks questions and a bunch of other coll-kid haterade that is probably just me grousing but that place sure is into itself.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:21 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I believe he's framing this as a "don't make FPPs to Quora" policy plea.
posted by phunniemee at 1:21 PM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Huh, I never knew that.

I remember when everyone was really obsessed with Quora. I signed up and looked at some threads and it all seemed so much more noisy than AskMe. It doesn't matter if you have famous people on your site; you need moderators, bro.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:22 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am fine with leaving this up as a "problems with sites metafilter sometimes links to" discussion, since we have historically been anti-login-only sites but not absolutely so.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:22 PM on January 25, 2013


I dabbled in Quora and backed out because of the same signal:noise issue that roll truck roll had. I'm OK with discouraging frequent Quora links.
posted by arcticseal at 1:29 PM on January 25, 2013


"we're the experts exchange of general knowledge!"

no thank you.
posted by boo_radley at 1:32 PM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not too excited about Quorn either.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:33 PM on January 25, 2013 [12 favorites]

What Quora is doing is indexing its own content (probably using Cairo) and scanning the text into PNG format so they can put a blur-radius overlay on top of it be absolutely certain that the public can't view it.
This also raises the worry of accessibility, as those who use programs to overset text into speech are effectively cut out. Even if they choose to log in they find the page "empty". Boo for needlessly lessening inclusiveness.
posted by Jehan at 1:39 PM on January 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


I half expected to scroll all the way down and the find answers unobscured.
posted by kmz at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not too excited about Quorn either.

Very interesting at first, and then progressively less so.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:41 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would, however, support any pastors who advocate for Burn the Quorn Day.
posted by perhapses at 1:51 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


If this is a discussion about problematic sites that are being linked here, my usual haterant is against www.wimp.com which is nothing but a content thief
posted by growabrain at 1:56 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like Quora, as it is a place I share knowledge (ok maybe type incessantly) about space related topics.

Now I'm sad because I have been helping evil win the war against something.

Are you happy now deathpanels, you dream murdering hooligan?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:11 PM on January 25, 2013


I'm not too excited about Quorn either.

Very interesting at first, and then progressively less so.


All I could think about when that stuff first came out was Tleilaxu axlotl tanks. Needless to say, I have not sampled any of the vat-grown fungal goodness.
posted by killdevil at 2:16 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


At some point, someone should really make a page on the wiki titled, "Derail Bait"

Let's see....

Linking to any of the following sites may increase the likelihood of a thread derail:

Buzzfeed
Cracked
The Blaze
The New York Times
Media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch
The Atlantic
Slate
The Onion
n+1
Photographer websites that use flash
Sites requiring Silverlight

What did I miss?
posted by zarq at 2:17 PM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I poked around on Quora in their early days, so it wasn't too noisy, but all the questions seemed to be in the same kind of format and they lost all their individual "voices."
posted by rtha at 2:18 PM on January 25, 2013


Is this a new thing they're doing now? I don't remember seeing the blurring before on links from previous Quora FPPs.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:19 PM on January 25, 2013


zarq, you missed The Daily Mail. I myself believe that a Mail link should be grounds for automatic deletion of a post.
posted by Jehan at 2:21 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


What did I miss?

Daily Mail. Vice. Feministing. TV Tropes. Wikipedia.

But realistically our pack of nerds can derail anything. It's just worth understanding that some of these debates will come back again and again.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:21 PM on January 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


jessamyn: "But realistically our pack of nerds can derail anything."

Is it ok that I picture you tousling our hair while telling us this? I guess I like the idea of being part of a "pack" of something.
posted by boo_radley at 2:23 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Media outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch

You know what's kind of funny is that even given the overall biased shittiness of Fox News, they still generate a fair amount of decent web news articles, and their overall layout and design is mostly unoffensive and easy to digest. I only know this from seeing their stuff linked from Google News, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:25 PM on January 25, 2013


But realistically our pack of nerds can derail anything

Who you calling a 'A mass of large pieces of floating ice driven together' ?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:27 PM on January 25, 2013


reddit.

A reddit thread could simultaneously cure cancer, end world hunger and find the solution to the Voynich manuscript, and you'd still get several assholes saying that its users are pedophiles and its threading is impossible to read.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:27 PM on January 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


A reddit thread could simultaneously cure cancer, end world hunger and find the solution to the Voynich manuscript,

So while I'm sure the denizens of /r/trees have done all of those things and more, yes, reddit's threading is hard to read and there's a lot of weird stuff there. Saying those things is hardly hatorade.
posted by GuyZero at 2:29 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Basically like the Brat Pack, but with albuterol inhalers.
posted by boo_radley at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


What did I miss?

Anything written by a female blogger with an idiosyncratic style.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:32 PM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Or any Gawker property.
posted by chrchr at 2:33 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Some of Gawker has gotten kinda... decent... over the past months. It's odd.
posted by boo_radley at 2:35 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


What did I miss?

A pdf.
posted by Jpfed at 2:36 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


my usual haterant is against www.wimp.com which is nothing but a content thief

With sites like this, if people post an alternative link in the thread, we can often just replace the content-thief link. So the solution is to post an alternative link and then flag your comment so we'll see it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:36 PM on January 25, 2013


Also Quorn is not that bad if you're in the mood for that sort of thing.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:37 PM on January 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Photographer websites that use flash

You'd think I'd never been near a computer in 15 years when I admit this, but I spent an embarassing amount of time trying to figure out why photographers were suddenly against flash bulbs.

(You'd also think I didn't have Flash installed upon computers I've owned and operated.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:45 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Those Quorn Southwestern fake-wings aren't terrible.
posted by box at 2:46 PM on January 25, 2013


very, very evil

LOL
posted by dhammond at 2:48 PM on January 25, 2013


(Also I think the veggie-friendly Korn coverband would actually be best represented as QuoЯn... or maybe uQoЯn even)

As to the original point on Quora, I'm glad to hear the technical details, but maybe just because I always had a bad feeling about the site but didn't have a good, not-just-taste reason why. It's like finding out that neighbor you thought was creepy actually WAS stealing your mail. Not exactly a win but it does make you trust your own judgment.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Daily Mail. Vice. Feministing. TV Tropes. Wikipedia. Reddit. Gawker. PDFs. Anything written by a female blogger with an idiosyncratic style.

I'll add: Your Favorite Band's music video.

Also:
A pack of Mefites is a Meetup.

And MCMikeNamara, that's hilarious. :)
posted by zarq at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


So the solution is to post an alternative link and then flag your comment so we'll see it.

As fantastic?
posted by LionIndex at 2:59 PM on January 25, 2013


Photographers are against flash bulbs because they are inefficient due to their single use. Flash cubes are much better.
posted by perhapses at 3:23 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


oh i see i thought you were claiming metafilter was evil and wandered in seeing if blood had been spilt
posted by angrycat at 3:25 PM on January 25, 2013


Maybe Tron Legacy wasn't that great a movie, but....

..oh, wait, different Quora. Sorry.
posted by mephron at 3:39 PM on January 25, 2013


"we're the experts exchange of general knowledge!"

"we're the expert sex change of general knowledge!" FTFY

Given a choice among Quora, Quorn, a Quarry in Minecraft and a Senate Quorum Call, I would put Quora last (I signed up some time ago and have been getting emails weekly hailing embarrassingly obvious factoids and the opinions of Usual Suspects ever since).

It is surprisingly true that some notoriously bad sources have been getting better. Cracked has pleasantly surprised me often enough lately to be almost unsurprising. Buzzfeed runs the gamut from the horrendous to the very OK. Forbes and Bloomberg seem to be in competition for audience outside of the usual 'business mag' audience, resulting in frequent content a non-rich non-asshole can appreciate. And within the Gawker Network, Lifehacker and io9 (a scifi/science mix blog that declares itself inspired by Omni magazine) have the most good content.

Meanwhile, Slate and Salon ain't what they used to be while the New York Times has declined to a position midway between The New Yorker and the New York Post. (Hint: for GOOD deadtree newspaper political coverage, look for anything owned by McClatchey.)

No one has mentioned the HuffPo. Probably because NOBODY links to the HuffPo anymore and emerges unscathed.

Of course, when I started posting NewsFilterish stuff here under another name in 2000, everything was safely filtered through Yahoo News (and ALL my old links are dead).
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:40 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


A reddit thread could simultaneously cure cancer, end world hunger and find the solution to the Voynich manuscript, and you'd still get several assholes saying that its users are pedophiles and its threading is impossible to read.

There's a happy symmetry here wherein you can switch reddit and metafilter in this scenario and the characterization still works. Fortunately most folks are pretty chill about the whole thing in either direction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:10 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, except instead of "pedophiles" it's "old people" and instead of threading the complaint is about the lack thereof.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:10 PM on January 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


Metafilter doesn't do sleeping puppies well.
posted by The Whelk at 4:21 PM on January 25, 2013


I wholeheartedly agree re: Quora.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:21 PM on January 25, 2013


I mean I'm as anti-old people as the next 37 year old, but surely there is no need to compare them to stamp collectors.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:45 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


This also raises the worry of accessibility, as those who use programs to overset text into speech are effectively cut out. Even if they choose to log in they find the page "empty".

Just to be clear, the normal page that you get when logged in has no text-as-images. They only do that on the logged out version, and you wouldn't be able to read the text there anyway even if you weren't using a screen reader, so it's moot.

If you want to view the answers but are too lazy to create an account, here's a copy of the page on a HTML pastebin type site.
posted by Rhomboid at 4:49 PM on January 25, 2013


Also Quorn is not that bad if you're in the mood for that sort of thing.

After seeing several comments on this I decided I had to look that up, though I was expecting it to be a porn site.

I had a quora account for a while but they left me a snotty note about my account for not using my real name. I was going to change my name to Fucka Duck but I decided it wasn't worth the bother.
posted by DarkForest at 4:56 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is it ok that I picture you tousling our hair while telling us this? I guess I like the idea of being part of a "pack" of something.

I thought we were a 'cabal'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:10 PM on January 25, 2013


Thanks for writing that comment/this post, deathpanels. I've been curious what they do, as Quora results pop up on Google fairly frequently. Time to start getting into the habit of using a different search engine!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:22 PM on January 25, 2013

Just to be clear, the normal page that you get when logged in has no text-as-images. They only do that on the logged out version, and you wouldn't be able to read the text there anyway even if you weren't using a screen reader, so it's moot.
Thanks. I must have been confused by the way deathpanels described it.
posted by Jehan at 5:27 PM on January 25, 2013


Cortex: Fortunately most folks are pretty chill about the whole thing in either direction.

Indeed. Did any of you see the post on reddit a few days ago reporting the death of 23-year-old OceanSkys, who had done a popular IAMA about his battle with kidney cancer a while back? One of the top comments in the thread was a single period. When its Metafilter origin was explained to redditors, hundreds responded in kind.

(Here is OceanSkys' IAMA and his last post, a chihuahua he submitted to r/aww.)
posted by dontjumplarry at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2013 [16 favorites]


The weird thing is, given the small size of their shared community, the folks at Google would almost certainly know what Quora is up to.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:02 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


zarq: "What did I miss?"

Stormfront is always a crowd pleaser.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:16 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


When its Metafilter origin was explained to redditors, hundreds responded in kind.

It's pretty touching to see HORSE_SHIT_LUBE_GOD and I_LICK_DOG_COCKS pay their respects to the deceased.
posted by desjardins at 6:29 PM on January 25, 2013 [19 favorites]


Stormfront is always a crowd pleaser.

Whenever I see cloudfront.com in a URL, I forget that it's the name of a content distribution network, and not Stormfront.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:37 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


When its Metafilter origin was explained to redditors, hundreds responded in kind.

That is oddly touching. I give it under a month before the larger media claims that reddit invented that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:55 PM on January 25, 2013 [17 favorites]


What did I miss?

Grantland, The Oatmeal, Hyperbole and a Half (back when it was still updating).
posted by Rock Steady at 7:01 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm glad ebaum was so easily forgotten, and I suppose I shouldn't have even mentioned it.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:05 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER: Now I'm sad because I have been helping evil win the war against something.
posted by philip-random at 7:11 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: Time to start getting into the habit of using a different search engine!

I know this whole "Google is evil" thing is a schtick or whatever, but if Quora can trick Google, it can almost certainly trick Bing, DuckDuckGo, AltaVista, etc.

If you are interested in deleting your Quora account (and not just "Deactivating" it), you can apparently e-mail privacy@quora.com with a link to your profile and they will delete it.
posted by grandsham at 7:54 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a huge difference between requiring a free login to view content (which is annoying) and showing different content to search engines and humans (which is unethical). The OP speculates that Quora is doing the second, but I don't think that's actually true.

Showing different content to search engines is called "cloaking," and it can get you banned by Google. It would be seriously risky for Quora -- if Google dropped their pagerank for cheating, they wouldn't have much of a business model left. And since Quora's userbase is mostly Silicon Valley people, it would be weird if Google didn't find out.

So are they cloaking? I tried searching for a phrase in the first answer, and a phrase in the second answer -- both of which have been there for months. The first answer pulls up that Quora page as the second hit. The second answer doesn't pull up that page at all -- just some Quora users who have the comment in their feeds.

So I don't think Quora is cloaking -- I think Google sees the same thing as logged-out users. Quora is being excessively maligned here. Having to log in is annoying, but it's up-front take-it-or-leave-it annoying, not an evil scheme.

(Of course having to log in makes it a bad fit for Mefi. And if I was a Quora contributor I would have some broader concerns as well, since they're not currently making money in any obvious way -- which means you don't know how they're going to monetize your content when they do start monetizing it, and that turned out badly with Experts Exchange.)
posted by jhc at 7:55 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Here's a little more: "Q: Why hasn't Google banned Quora for hiding answers from search engine visitors? A: Google isn't actually indexing text that Quora has blurred."
posted by jhc at 7:59 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Tried to click that link on my phone and got a screen telling me I'd need to download the Quora app to see the answers.

(Just amused...not complaining)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:12 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just in a weird mood, but this thread works really well if you imagine the posters as a bunch of cranky old people sitting around a lounge in a retirement home.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:50 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's a little more: "Q: Why hasn't Google banned Quora for hiding answers from search engine visitors? A: Google isn't actually indexing text that Quora has blurred."

I was just about to reply that my experience has been mostly the opposite of that, but at the bottom of your link :
Also note that blurring text is something Quora recently started doing, so it's possible that there were instances where Google hadn't updated their index to account for the blur.
Quora sucks and I hope it dies. Preferably in a fire.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:53 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually like Quorn. Back when I was a vegetarian I preferred it to soy based fake meat. Yeah I know, faint praise and all that. But I'll still eat it now and then as an alternative to animal based products.
posted by Splunge at 9:05 PM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd rather eat Quorn than factory meat, that's for sure. I really didn't mean to besmirch the stuff.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:07 PM on January 25, 2013


Heh. It is basically fishsticks made from fungus, I think you're on safe ground being skeptical.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:39 PM on January 25, 2013


Quorn is my go to Thanksgiving roast of choice. Great smeared with mayo with cranberries on the side. (but then I am a Tleilaxu)
posted by a humble nudibranch at 10:06 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ooh, do the Face Dancer trick!
posted by koeselitz at 10:09 PM on January 25, 2013


What did I miss?

Videos/TV shows blocked to anyone outside the U.S.
Cory Doctorow
posted by misha at 10:39 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Speaking of edible Eldrich things, corn smut quesadillas are fucking delicious.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:23 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I'm not too excited about Quorn either."
posted by Burhanistan

"Also Quorn is not that bad if you're in the mood for that sort of thing.

After seeing several comments on this I decided I had to look that up, though I was expecting it to be a porn site.
"
posted by DarkForest

I actually live near Quorn: it is small and dull and definitely not porny.
posted by marienbad at 5:41 AM on January 26, 2013


But its website does have a picture of some guys pulling it.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:53 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this a new thing they're doing now? I don't remember seeing the blurring before on links from previous Quora FPPs.

I have this question too. Quora is a pretty lousy site, but there is occasionally good content there, and the most favorited FPP I ever made was based on a link to a Quora thread, in Dec 2011; I don't remember having any problems with blurring then.

From the above, it sounds like there really has been some recent change.
posted by escabeche at 6:46 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was just about to reply that my experience has been mostly the opposite of that, but at the bottom of your link :
Also note that blurring text is something Quora recently started doing, so it's possible that there were instances where Google hadn't updated their index to account for the blur.
Quora sucks and I hope it dies. Preferably in a fire.


I'd be surprised if any search results you got in the last few months are because of stale Google crawls. It looks like the answer blurring started in June or July. That answer is from August. Five months later, if you're still getting Quora answers in your Google results it's probably because Google thinks from the actual text available to logged-out visitors that it'll be helpful. Google might be wrong about that, but that's a separate issue.

Note that the answer I linked is out of date to the extent it says that the full answer text is in the HTML source and hidden from Google by tags. It looks like the full text is no longer in the source at all -- maybe because of the bookmarklets and browser extensions and whatever designed to unhide it.
posted by jhc at 7:17 AM on January 26, 2013


For the longest time I'd had Stack Exchange and Quora mixed up in my mind, and my mental association with both of them was that there was some sort of shady would-be-expert-driven profit-scheme behind the scenes. And also that AskMe was in a feud with them on principle, or something. So even though I used StackOverflow all the time I always felt vaguely guilty about it, like I was betraying some deeply-held moral value or whatever.

I'm very glad to realize that I can go on being passively disapproving of Quora without compromising the only reason half my websites work.
posted by Phire at 9:09 AM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would flagging the Quora results in google search help?
posted by winna at 9:09 AM on January 26, 2013


Quora: no opinion.

Quorn: Oh, man, that stuff. I'll never touch it again. I had a really bad reaction to it that resulted in my basically turning into Hunter Thompson onstage at one of my band's shows, then driving home in a semihallucinitory state, pissing on my neighbor's truck, and then spending 36 hours in a horrible sleep/shit/vomit rotation. Evil fruit of the Tleilaxu axlotl tanks is right.
posted by COBRA! at 10:10 AM on January 26, 2013


Would flagging the Quora results in google search help?

Probably not as Google only indexes the non blurred portions, so technically Quora's not violating Google's policy.

I hope Google updates their policy to ban this. Another example sites getting around this policy is how expertsexchange pushes the actual answers on the page underneath what looks like the page footer so you think you have to sign up to read the answers, when in fact you just have to scroll down.
posted by zixyer at 10:59 AM on January 26, 2013


Man, it's a good thing www.experts-exchange.com puts that hyphen in their url.
posted by ChuraChura at 11:44 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Quorn is yum, it's definitely the best mass-produced nonmeat meat around, and bonus that it's not soy. It never *ever* goes on sale though, no coupons, no nothing, not even when you subscribe to their enews, and there's no shroom-derived chikn competition.
posted by headnsouth at 11:51 AM on January 26, 2013


Sorry, I got pulled into real life for a while after posting this and missed the responses.

Yes, my original intention in posting this here was to give some perspective on why we should consider if not outright banning links to Quora, then strongly discouraging them, at least as long as this policy persists site-wide. And yes this is a massive nerd derail. I apologize for the noise.
posted by deathpanels at 12:14 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only thing we really ban linkwise are things like Stormfront. Saying "Links to Quora aren't cool for these reasons" or "Links to Quora are now behind a login wall which you may not have known and so that's not great for linking to" is a totally good reason to discourage them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:28 PM on January 26, 2013


Quora is to AskMe as Miller 64 is to, say, a draught of Guinness on Irish soil. Or something like that.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:29 PM on January 26, 2013


And yes this is a massive nerd derail. I apologize for the noise.

deathpanels, I really liked hearing all the details. I tried picking off HTML elements with Firebug but couldn't get to the content. Now I know why.

And for me, the nerd derails are the music of MeFi, not the noise. (Well, it's kind of noisy music, but you know what I mean.)
posted by benito.strauss at 7:34 PM on January 26, 2013


The best music is the kind that flirts with noise.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:45 PM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Which explains why my music isn't that great; my music is on the other side of the room, palms sweating profusely, glancing nervously over at noise and admiring him but far too frightened to actually go over and say anything.
posted by koeselitz at 7:49 PM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best music is the kind that flirts with noise.

Arvo Pärt would like to have a word with you.
posted by Doleful Creature at 7:58 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, Arvo Pärt was making out with noise behind the gym last friday and everybody in school knows it
posted by koeselitz at 8:12 PM on January 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a traitor who went over to the Quora side for few months, I'm pleased to report my findings.

There were some good content on Quora. But their search engine sucks so bad that I can't never find those good content anymore. Some people there were so full of themselves. They were constantly amazed by their own brilliance. I feel like most people on Quora have ulterior motives, they want to sell me some shits.

Pictures in the thread is a distraction. The voting system is a distraction. Some users voted for answers not based on how good the content answered the question but how many followers the person have. What happen then, was bad answer would often reach the top because the person who answered the question have most followers. I don't like the social aspect of Quora, it's detriment to good content.

Quora have so many epic bad questions. It's bad enough that I want to threaten violence against the person who asked the question. The user base of Quora will seriously answer those bad questions which only lead to more lulz questions.

The demographic of Quora was a lot younger and a lot more international. Unfortunately, that wasn't always an advantage.

I'm pretty confident Metafilter will be here ten years from now. Quora? I'm not so sure. The company is trying very hard to monetize their content but so far without success. So, I'm not surprise they are indexing their own content.

In conclusion, Grab a beer with Mefis? Hell Yes! Quora Meetup? No thanks.
posted by Carius at 8:53 PM on January 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


There's this sort of... veneer of desperation that you pick up on with certain sites, this sort of feeling you get that there's a lot of VC behind it, and there's gonna be hell to pay soon if the site doesn't start turning out golden eggs...yeah Quora has that in spades.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:21 PM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can always tell when a site's management is trying to milk its golden hen to death.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:10 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Arvo Pärt and noise, sitting in a tree, R-E-A-C-H-I-N-G A C-R-E-A-T-I-V-E S-Y-N-T-H-E-S-I-S
posted by en forme de poire at 2:33 AM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I joined Quora for one question. Then the post I made on Metafilter that the Quora question helped me a little bit with, well, heck, y'all, it was swiftly deleted. So... I took that as a sign: Quora is not for me.

But since I joined I've had several emails informing me that this person and that person and the other person are following me on Quora.

Damn. I'm not really so sure I wanna be followed.

Anyway, fuck all that, I had a great gig this afternoon, part of a craft beer (small brewery) beer festival in Yokohama, Japan, and my band rocked ye old muhfuggin HOUSE, and we all had a fabulous old time, and I saw a MEFIER there, good golly moses! A Mefier who I hadn't seen in AGES (since a Tokyo meet up waaaaaay back when, to be exact) who informed me that he's just been pretty much lurking all this time, since then. Anyway, what does that have to do with Quora? Fuck all, that's what.

The internet is a weird and wonderful place. And to all a good night.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:55 AM on January 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I fucking hate Quora. The regwall thing was the straw the broke the camel's back. What a bunch of bullshit. I don't log in ANYWHERE using my Facebook account, I'm certainly not going to do it for Quora.

No, the worst part of Quora is their fucked-up, opaque moderation system. Every time I tried asking a question, their "mods" (or whoever, I was never quite sure), would hack it to pieces, completely changing the question text, the "more inside" and the tags. And when I say completely, I mean COMPLETELY -- like, you couldn't even recognize it anymore. And of course they would make it as lame and bland as possible, so then nobody would fucking answer it.

Fuck Quora. I hate that site worse than cockroaches, dogshit, and people who talk on their cellphones on the bus. And who the fuck needs Quora anyway, when we have AskMe? AskMe is better, and its crowd isn't limited to Silicon Valley geeks. Fuck, if I wanted to know what Silicon Valley geeks thought about things, I'D JUST ASK MY FUCKING FRIENDS and eliminate the middleman.

Fuck Quora.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:20 AM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey I like Quora!
posted by Mister_A at 9:27 AM on January 27, 2013


their "mods" (or whoever, I was never quite sure)

grumblebee is a volunteer mod over there and it sounds like while they are trying to be really SRS BZNS about moderation over there, their basic approach is "have volunteers manage almost everything" and then do the reddit-like plausible deniability thing as far as exerting any top-down-paid-staff mod control. I feel like it's always been built-to-flip. As someone who was around there when it was just getting going, I was surprised at how navel gazing it seemed to be, like there were a lot of questions about the Quora community and how awesome the place was when there was barely a community there in the first place. I really think they want to be the reddit for Q&A in which case more power to them (and good luck being better than Stack Overflow for technical stuff) but lack of perspective may be a problem. They really sort of seem to want to take the community OUT of community based Q&A stuff there, that you sort of need to accede to the Quora groupmind (or be a real power hitter) to be valuable to the place. I answered a lot of questions there in the early days and asked a few. This one is years old and never got answered. I went through and marked my favorite answers "not for reproduction" when that became an option because who knows what they're planning to do.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:50 AM on January 27, 2013


Yeah, I dunno. I just totally resented having somebody monkey with my questions like that. And they were so damn invasive about it. Like, I actually took the time to phrase my questions in a useful way. And what did they do? Fucking put them in a blender and turned them into bland, indistinguishable mush.

Seriously, fuck that site. Last time I asked a question, they fucked it up so bad, I felt dirty for ever having used the site. They should go out of business and feel bad about themselves while they do it.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:01 AM on January 27, 2013


Really though, Quora's BS moderation practices really only help me appreciate the mod policies over here. I mean, nobody likes having their post/comment deleted, but I'd far prefer having something deleted than have some random, heavy-handed "moderator" actually edit the text of my contribution.

I feel like "the system" (or whatever) works really well on AskMe. I think of what would happen if random users on AskMe were allowed to edit other peoples' questions and ... ugh, I really don't want to think about it.

Bottom line : good job, MeFi mods. Thank you for creating a system that works well and respects its users.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:24 AM on January 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't have to use a Facebook account to log in to the site. There's a "Create an account with an Email address" link that lets you create a regular user account in the traditional way. I did that with a Mailinator throwaway email to see the thread and post its contents above, and it worked fine. The account will probably eventually be flagged for not having a valid real name, but who cares. I'll just create another one then. After creating an account they try to force you to choose interests and categories before continuing, but if you just go back to the thread without answering their questions the account should appear valid.

That reminds me, what ever happened to Bugmenot? I don't hear people talking about them much any more. Did too many site administrators start monitoring Bugmenot and disabling the accounts?
posted by Rhomboid at 12:50 PM on January 27, 2013


Making sure people have to go through hurdles to see your content is the fast lane to irrelevance.
posted by Mister_A at 2:40 PM on January 27, 2013


It would be easy for Quora to allow Google to see the un-blurred text (without even using redirects!), but I don't think they actually do this. Google has been known to swiftly punish sites that serve some content to search engines and other content to users -- it's a classic content farm technique. I haven't done any real testing but I don't see any evidence that Quora is risking retaliation by doing this.
posted by miyabo at 6:34 PM on January 27, 2013


Making sure people have to go through hurdles to see your content is the fast lane to irrelevance.
It seems to work for Q&A sites. People don't like it, and there's plenty out there about how quora or Experts exchange sucks, but the business model seems stable.

Saying that though, if you compare Experts Exchange against StackOverflow, the latter is a factor more popular than the latter. I think this whole thing comes down to visitors vs income.
posted by zoo at 7:40 AM on January 28, 2013


"grumblebee is a volunteer mod over there"

Yup. I'm not an employee, so I don't have knowledge about plans to finance the site or search-engine policies, but if anyone has questions about Quora moderation -- or the Quora community from my perspective of have spent years on MeFi and much recent time on Quora -- I'm happy answer.

I'll say that a lot of folks on Quora are unhappy with the link policy. I've stopped posting links to my Quora posts on Facebook, because friends have complained they can't read anything without signing up.
posted by grumblebee at 12:11 PM on January 28, 2013


Also, I'm not a Quora fanboy or apologist. There are some specific reasons I use the site, and being an admin has been an enlightening, valuable, life-changing experience, but I will say that -- like it or hate it -- there's some amazing content on the site. I'd like to link to it, but ... Doh!
posted by grumblebee at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


If meat is murder, is Quorn public misconduct?
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:13 PM on January 29, 2013


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