A few minutes ago I deactivated my Quora account. Deactivation isn’t that much of a deal, my answers will still remain on the site, people can still comment, upvote, downvote, and send me PM. So it’s more a statement than an action – “he ain’t liv’n round them parts no mo’”.
My love with Quora started early, sometime in October 2010, when I answered a question about desserts. I’d link to it, but you’d see something like this:
and I just can’t stand people who want all manners of data about me just to show me content someone else created and linked to. As much as I respect and love Quora for giving me the bandwidth and harddisk space, not to mention Google juice, my answer is still somewhat mine and I dislike it when people I am not sleeping with or who don’t pay me decide who gets to hear me speak (or read my writing).
Quora has changed since then. First it created Pinterest-style boards. Then blog-style boards from those. Then board-style blogs from that. It removed topics, one of the greatest things about the site, changed its algorithms to show answers ranked not by their usefulness but by some weird magic sauce that promoted answers with five upvotes and fifty words over one with five hundred upvotes and six hours of original research behind them (which made them, as you can see above, unreadable to non-logged in users since only the first answer is visible).
Its “be nice” policy turned into a “don’t question junk science or religious bullshit” policy. Its “no jokes” policy collapsed answers that were sincere while it left insincere and outright false ones (see above about junk science and religious bullshit).
Today Quora introduced “reviews”, a move I am insanely skeptical about. Reviews are opinions, not facts, and Quora has a history of nasty admin reactions when it comes to opinions (as opposed to opinions disguised as facts). I offered people 25,000 Quora credits to review me, which some did. For a bit, at least, before an admin locked the review board citing a “only professional capacity” rule. Rightfully, more or less, but nevertheless annoying, especially since reviews of “Jews” and “The Holocaust” are still possible. This was the straw.
I will be forever grateful to Quora and what it did for me. It introduced me to friends, even lovers. It gave me publicity and it became a temporary home for me to do what I do best, rave lunatically about cooking. But both the recent Posterous debacle, as so many before it (heck, I of all people should never forget this, being I started blogging on Geocities in the mid-90s, even before Yahoo! bought it), and some deletions, collapses, and otherwise removals on Quora drive home the one point we all should be thinking about more often: there is no place like /var/users/, no place like home, no place like our own domain. Content outside of it is liable to be judged and removed, sold, reused, trashed, or hidden behind deletion messages and sign-up walls.
I’ll spend the hour and a half I spent answering on Quora elsewhere, likely here. It’s safer that way. And you get to read all of it without giving a corporation that won’t pay you for it all your data.
If you’re done here, please read on at Coming Home.