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Why Not to Use Quora (waxy.org)
500 points by Reedx 73 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 186 comments

All philosophical views aside, there are some really core issues that got me to stop using Quora and unfortunately the case to stop using it is made by the site itself:

* The content quality has deteriorated significantly since the site's inception. The content is far cheaper than before and far less interesting in very obvious ways.

* Moderation systems have not done a good job of growing the site as a community. The site has lost the character that drew many people to it in the first place.

* The machine learning models terribly over-fit to user signals, creating a frustrating experience.

These 3 core issues with the site are what got me to gradually stop using it as someone who was initially an early adopter.

I never found the quality to be anywhere near as good as Stack Exchange, even when Quora first launched. Why anyone would knowingly use Quora over Stack Exchange is a mystery to me; I suspect that most Quora users simply aren't aware that Stack Exchange exists, since SE traditionally catered primarily to a technical audience.

Edit: One of my biggest gripes with the platform is that it's always solicited a large number of promotional answers. Anytime I end up on Quora, I'm usually stuck scrolling through a long list of "Use my product, it's the best!" answers. It appears to make no effort to discourage or remove such content, and, for whatever reason, those answers tend to get heavily upvoted.

SE and Q do different jobs.

Q is better at "soft" knowledge - psychology, personal history, experience, opinion.

SE is better for "hard" knowledge - clearly-defined problems with specific solutions.

Having said that, I find SE very, very frustrating.

Given any problem, the answers invariably seem to include multiple takes with distracting or irrelevant side points; show-boating comments, often nit-picky, about very minor issues; just plain wrong answers that have been massively upvoted; no account of chronology - later answers always have fewer votes than older answers, even if they're better solutions; moderator show-boating with questions closed for no good reason (e.g. when dupes aren't really dupes.)

SE's problem is that accretion wins over refinement. IMO it should have been more like a Wiki, with a much clearer distinction between content - i.e. stock answers, with comments - and debate about content.

I enjoy my Quora feed, but I treat it more as entertainment. I wouldn't use it for anything mission critical. I actually agree with Q and not the WB comments - comments about private experiences or opinions are the property of the authors, not communal property, and authors should have the right to withdraw them.

Also - FB isn't archived either. Do the WB people have the same negative attitude to FB groups?

As for SE - sometimes I try to use SE for mission critical problems. Usually I get a few hints from the answers, then end up having to solve the problem independently.

Yes my biggest pet peeve with Stack Overflow specifically is that instead of an answer to the question, you'll often see a lecture about how the poster is doing it wrong. Usually this is because the responder didn't actually read the question and is trying to get their internet points in before someone else answers it.

It's not a bad idea to outline a different approach, but it's almost always better to first answer the question and then add your opinion afterwards. I've even seen questions where they poster will state "I'm not doing it the accepted way because..." and still see useless responses saying "You should do it this conventional way instead" etc.

I think this is just a negative of having a points reward system that encourages answer sniping. However, without a points system you'd see far less content. I've accepted it as a necessary evil, and overall I'm pretty happy with the quality of SO content once you learn to filter out the nonsense.

I'm sympathetic to some of your complaints about SE, but I think this is a mistake:

> SE's problem is that accretion wins over refinement. IMO it should have been more like a Wiki, with a much clearer distinction between content - i.e. stock answers, with comments - and debate about content.

You can see the effect of this approach in many cases where the community has tried to establish a "canonical" Q&A about some recurring topic, and it's frequently not pretty; every tangentially relevant detail that somebody thought to tell the world about gets edited in, and then never gets edited out. Unless somebody is willing to purge lots of users' contributions entirely (which they generally aren't), this one great beast of an answer just continues to grow and grow in scope, gradually losing any sort of coherent narrative or direct relevance to the question.

The failed Stack Overflow Documentation project failed in a similar way. Wikipedia articles about programming topics also seem to me to generally be tedious, confusing and riddled with inaccuracies.

The competition-based model that SE uses certainly has failure modes, but a more collaboration-based model also has failure modes - ones that I think are more serious and crippling.

Agreed I have seen many SO answers in areas where I have expertise where wordy waffly feel good answers - that don't actually answer the question asked get preferred of short and to the point 3 or 4 line answers.

There is also to much vote whoreing going on with people chipping in with non relevant answers. I wish I had a pound for every employment answer that mentions "right to work" when its not an American employment question.

SE has a very strict notion of having the "correct answer" to each question which is enforced in all communities except some (Interpersonal SE and "soft questions" come to mind). Even in those contexts, answers must be well cited and be credible in a certain way (e.g. in Interpersonal SE all answers must be grounded by personal experiences). This makes it a fundamentally different website than Quora. Quora is about expertise, opinion and anecdotes. SE is about facts and answers deemed credible enough by the community.

Personally I think this is a reason to sometimes use quora. The one right answer cult is a huge limitation of se, which frustratingly often closes good questions just for being subjective. This is not site policy but over zealous modding.

"We never claimed that subjective questions were horrible abominations that should never be asked." https://stackoverflow.blog/2010/09/29/good-subjective-bad-su...

SE has a very strict notion of having the "correct answer" to each question

Probably had. The secret of SE’s success was the rigorous curation as encouraged via the gamification system, explicitly at the design of the site’s founders. Now there are various interpretations of their change in direction, but the quality has noticeably deteriorated for both questions and answers. There’s no sign of a credible rival right now but when one appears it will do to SE what SE did to ExpertsExchange overnight, and for the same reasons.

ExpertsExchange was also a UX tire fire, whatever SE is, it's not that.

I asked someone who uses Quora. the same thing and they said quora is for reading opinions and experiences and Stack Exchange is for finding the facts.

The only time I ever found the posts on quora valuable was when I was thinking about applying for one of the big tech companies and I wanted to know a bit about what the people who have worked there think about it. That kind of stuff would be off topic on Stack Exchange but thats also the reason why Quora is mostly junk because of a lack of quality control.

The vibe on many of the technical branches of SE is one of exclusivity and pretentiousness. Just Friday I was stuck on using some old CLI tool that nobody uses any more, and my problem was two some obscure settings in the myriad options that you can set that had to be configured for this case just because. Somebody at SE came back to an ancient question on the site last year and updated it with the answer last year.

And I can't even thank him. Quora is much easier to assimilate into.

SE is much more difficult to start using than Quora, which is also probably why it has higher quality content. Quora has absolutely no quality control.

That's definitely true, though I find that the less technical platforms are laxer. However, that level of quality control is exactly what keeps me coming back. If you ask a stupid question, SO is going point it out rather bluntly. Quora will give you a best-effort answer so someone can plug their latest product.

Ask a vague question on Quora, and you'll get a vague answer.

Ask a vague question on Stack Overflow, and you'll get downvoted along with comments to the order of, "You haven't provided enough information for us to give you an answer."

quora did SEO right. It has huge visibility, and thus, high quality answers get huge votes, even from people who aren't from that field of expertise. So perhaps post quality is lower than SE, but vote quality is magnitudes higher in my experience.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but I've looked things up on Google and frequently see Quora answers at the very top.

I'd say at least half the time I click on the link, the top answer, it is either highly biased, anecdotal, just plain wrong, or a combination of those things. Many of the answers are also in broken English. Despite this, the answers get thousands of upvotes and it makes me question whether or not the Quora userbase is competent at identifying good content.

Over time, I've grown to not trust the first answer on Quora as I trust the top answer on SE. At that point, the Quora result becomes a waste of an entry on Google's front page.

As others have said in this thread, Quora seems to be suited towards personal questions and opinion-based questions, in which case, maybe Quora and SE are compliments to each other.

>I never found the quality to be anywhere near as good as Stack Exchange, even when Quora first launched. Why anyone would knowingly use Quora over Stack Exchange is a mystery to me; I suspect that most Quora users simply aren't aware that Stack Exchange exists, since SE traditionally catered primarily to a technical audience.

SE has nowhere near the breadth of Quora, and almost no social, personal life, and politics related topics. At least any SE site I've chanced on, and I'm a member of several.

There are SE sites specifically for social and personal life issues.

Quora still has some incredible gems and answers from people directly involved with the question. Unfortunately, as all content sites, their growth has led to a rapid decrease in quality, and their efforts to inflate questions has only made it worse.

I’m actually surprised at how bad their ML model is. Funny to see someone else mention how overfit their model is. There’s literally no content discovery, it’s the same extremely specific topic. But you know what? I’ve also noticed this phenomenon on YouTube, maybe there’s something to it from an advertising revenue perspective.

A coworker of mine was recently sharing an encounter with an engineer at Quora to me. The gist of it was that the Quora engineer was saying that they've built the best engineering team in the entire industry -- that they're the 'smartest guys in the room'.

Both my coworker and I were impressed by the gall of such a suggestion and then began to wonder how much self-deception and double-think must be occurring, culturally, within a company for its employees to be suggesting such a thing to others.

At least they didn't decide to create their own programming language in order to build their website, unlike another company founded by early Facebook employees (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2191800)

If you were an early employee at Facebook it takes significant self-awareness to realize that that success may not be directly linked to your formidable brain power. Especially if you that was your formative professional experience in your 20s.

Probably, for the majority of users, it's best to show content which aligns with their opinions and interests to increase engagement. It's similar to the Google "Filter Bubble".

Filter bubble is one thing. It's another thing to filter content so aggressively that over 50% of the site's content stays the same from one day to the next while still showing content you already upvoted.

That's the reason I stopped using it a few weeks ago - it got so bad I had to scroll down multiple pages of collapsed answers in order to find a single question/answer that I hadn't seen yet. Which is exactly the opposite of what should happen.

Despite the fact that I use YouTube only for music videos and technical content and have never watched a Jordan Peterson video, YouTube recommends only Jordan Peterson videos to me.

Have you tried watching one or two? You might be the type of person prone to find them interesting, that's what the machine thinks of you anyway.

I tell computers what to do, not the other way around :)

I have also seen the content quality decline. Online community management and moderation policies seem like an important research area but I have found little that explores the dynamics of these communities and analysis of which policies work and which don't. Why, for instance, are the comments here on HN generally quite good but not so good on other technical sites? What kind of moderation would enable people with differing political views to discuss them without the usual flaming?

Very well put. I deleted my account about a year ago. I kept seeing a few good answers, old ones, over and over in my feed, juxtaposed with boring answers to questions that would have better gone unasked. And the questions in my areas of expertise had turned from thoughtful inquiries to pure garbage. If Quora think they're sitting on a goldmine by locking up their content, they're sadly mistaken.

I've also noticed clickbait links to spammy external websites in the main feed.

Yes, they introduced that "feature" this year. Like the new "spaces" which seem to have replaced the interests/topics users can select but actually don't work as a replacement because they seem more like Facebook groups where you can post random stuff and questions related to a topic.

This combined with the horrible feed made me quit recently.

> The content quality has deteriorated significantly since the site's inception.

I just find it funny that you can say this about literally any site with any content whatsoever.

Heck, even Mad made this joke about itself... in its second issue.

The first post on /biz was “I remember when this board wasn’t shit”

I can tell you why the content quality deteriorated. The Partner Program... Encourages weird questions with primary purpose of gaining most viewers. I happen to be selected as one of these people (not too sure why), and I refuse to take part in that nonsense.

I'm gonna say that #1 is caused by #2, possibly due to an over-reliance on #3.

Which year did you sign up for Quora? Asking coz you said you are an early adopter

I joined in late 2010, shortly after the site launched because iirc you couldn't read answers without signing up. I think one time I clicked on a question like "what is 1 + 1"? And now my quota is full of nonsense.

Can you expand on your last point? What makes your experience frustrating?

If you search question X on Quora, you start seeing all sorts of rephrases of X as if X is the only thing you could ever be curious about.

The impression I got is that they more or less just show you duplicate questions, when such duplicates really shouldn't exist in the first place.

If I open a question then I basically get nothing but that question (and similar questions) show up in my feed. For someone who has passing interest in random topics (so I click on a random question every so often) suddenly having nothing but repetitive WW2 tank questions in my feed is annoying. All those topics I was told to select, btw, mean nothing apparently and never show up in my feed nowadays.

I took the chance with their data breach and required password change recently to just stop using the site altogether.

The moment you engage with Topic X, you will be inundated with Topic X in the feed, in your email digest, in additional follow ups asking "Are you still interested in X" and so on.

It leaves little room for true exploration and discovery because 1 mis-click on a topic could change your entire content experience for days or weeks.

I too agree on the above issues especially their feed is very poor.

For me I'm getting tired of being fed Trump apologist questions. Or nutty questions about Obama's place of birth. Etc ad nauseum.

I used to be a power user on Quora. It's how I learned about the coding bootcamp that eventually became the catalyst for a huge career change in my life.

I'd spend countless hours answering questions about my experiences and the school I attended, with the intention of just helping give back to the community.

Over the years, Quora became an relentless flood of "ask to answer" questions that were already on the site, ones asking me to compare "X coding bootcamp vs Y coding bootcamp" (like, how would someone know if they only attended one?), or just ridiculous comments from entitled people who expected the world with their questions.

I eventually deleted all of my answers and deactivated my account. It's just no longer worth contributing to a site that's very obviously devolved to "Yahoo Answers, with influencer spam"

Why delete all your answers?

Personally, I've considered deleting all mine because quite often years old posts will get flagged for spam or inappropriate material or some other rule despite it being the top voted (and often only) answer. I used to reply and send them their own rules back that they claim I violated and get 90%+ lifted, but after a couple old answers got flagged in the same week and it locked my account for x amount of time I stopped dealing with them. And often I'd have to appeal the same post over and over again anyway. It would get blocked, I'd get it reinstated, and then it would get blocked again so it was just frustrating.

I used to be top 7 in a specific niche but it wasn't worth dealing with their moderation appeals constantly. It's not quite as bad now that I am not in the top lists.

Id like to learn more about your bootcamp experiences. Do you still recommend it?

I was a bootcamp instructor (hello HN -- I'm for hire as one! See my email in my profile). Since I'm in between jobs I can be frank (to potential schools wanting to hire me, I care about the right selection of students).

There are 3 types of people in bootcamps:

1. People who are too good. They should run away from bootcamps.

2. People who are the right fit.

3. People who aren't able to understand what if-based thinking is (if I am cold, then I will put on an extra layer of clothing). These people shouldn't do a bootcamp. All people in this group seem to have less education or less high quality education.

My tip: go to freecodecamp.org and do 2 weeks to 4 weeks of JS. If you notice that you're motivated enough to learn alone then continue and don't do a bootcamp. If you notice that you struggled (motivation-wise) then do a bootcamp.


I wish you had phrased your answer better, but this is exactly what I thought of the OP's comment (and the vast majority of former power users' complaints, as someone that used to hang out there since the early days).

This comment is not in line with the site guidelines.



> When disagreeing, please reply to the argument instead of calling names. "That is idiotic; 1 + 1 is 2, not 3" can be shortened to "1 + 1 is 2, not 3."

Site guidelines aside, your wording is rather rude. You probably could've said the same thing without the "get off your high horse" bit.

They're making a joke.


Please don't post to HN like you did here and elsewhere in this thread.


> I'll express my opinion when I feel like it.

You're welcome to do that in a way that is constructive. What you are not welcome to do is be rude when doing so, like you are here.

Quora used to be good before 2012-13(?), what with its credit system and all. You had a fixed pool of points to ask questions. Potential people who wanted people to ask them questions could arbitrarily set their points, and these points were deducted from questioner's pool, and added to the answerer's pool.

When this was removed, it was the beginning of the end. Clickbait, self-promotion, rabid people-centric cults, unrelated answers (no person X, you should not answer with a sob story for 'what's the weather like in Seattle these days?'), no question details allowed, answers catering to the lowest denominator, crappy feeds, and (imo) the worst - fabricating actual relationships, sob stories, and credentials (IIT/MIT/etc.) to garner more views and become a top writer (w/e that's worth).

And the rabid and toxic community is nauseous, to say the least. No enforcement of community standards means that every non-mainstream opinion (or even an opinion that goes against the Quora mainstream) is lambasted as if you had insulted the commenter's family.

Although HN's moderation policy may seem caged to some, it is the reason for the quality of the community's discussions. Quora is a textbook example of what happens when users are given freedom to do whatever they want to. It is the reason why I deleted my Quora account happily (even though I had 1M+ views on my answers, and I liked answering the most mundane of questions) - the site is not worth the time you devote to it.

I was a hardcore user of Quora till a few years ago. In fact I was in the top 50 or so most followed users back when the site was growing (mostly thanks to a couple of my answers that ended up blowing up)

For me personally, Quora was special because the people on it were so different from each other. My first few follows were a NASA engineer, a published author, a student with radical views on theology etc.

But over time, with popularity, the site has devolved into a homogeneous mixture of people with similar views on most topics, from the same strata of society, mostly from the same country(/ies), with the same educational backgrounds, same sense of humour (My friend used to joke that the average writer on Quora is INTP Engineer from IIT who is working at a MNC but wants to change the world through NGO-work).

I think the change came about when Quora stopped charging for asking questions. This led to a flood of nonsense questions and a flooding of experiential questions over factual ones (eg. What is it like to be an older sibling vs. Why is the Attack on Normandy considered a turning point?). And of course experiential questions have waaaaaay more people who want to share their experiences on the same.

I think the day I lost hope entirely was when I was A2A "If Pakistan kidnaps Sachin Tendulkar, what would India government's response be?" (Yes, I'm Indian, but this question is silly in itself and the chest-thumping answers on this were even sillier).

Today, I still use Quora, though the last answer I wrote was about 3 years ago. I still have about 9K followers, but I follow a carefully curated list of about 70 accounts. It's utility as a website to "share knowledge" is very limited and I look at it today as essay-Twitter (Similar noise, similar debating, but just like Twitter, once in a while something good shows up)

> Contrast that with Q&A competitors Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange, which offers an API, a wealth of user-made tools and support community for it, a powerful Data Explorer for querying and exporting data, a liberal crawling policy, and doesn’t attempt to hide questions and answers behind authentication. They even proactively upload anonymized data dumps of all user-contributed content to the Internet Archive for posterity under a Creative Commons license.

I was unaware that Stack Overflow/Stack Exchange did this. I'm very happy that I deleted my Quora account a couple months ago and that I've been contributing more to the SE sites lately.

I avoid Quora links in search results because it hides content from unauthenticated users and I don't understand why I have to register only to read the answers. Stackoverflow is so much better.

I wonder what is the motivation for the users to contribute to a site that hides their knowledge from others?

Yeah ditto. Same reason I '-pinterest' on most google queries.

I ignore them, because there are lot of just plain wrong answers/ low effort answers along with the fact that often time the most upvoted answers are not the highest up and I will have to search for the brat answer instead of it being right there. Quora is also very annoying in the way it bugs its users to answer questions.


Or is that answer too simple? I think control, final answer. I don't know why control though.

Can you explain? Whose control over what?

This applies to Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and every other major 'social' platform today.

Data goes in - it doesn't come out. Can't explain it!

They're walled gardens.

What's frustrating is that users don't care. They simply do not care.

Their data leaks, it's sold to the Russians, and they keep coming back.

My favorite is when a product bends over backwards to make it easy to import data. And then pretends that it's never heard of the word 'export'.

Export data? Yes, it's very easy to import data!

i agree on that

Does the root cause of all these problems with quora come down to being vc funded and needing high revenue numbers and growth rates? Imagine quora was a site driven by the community...

It's a conundrum, only a vc funded site can reach such scale, have great growth etc but when the time for monetization comes, everything starts going downhill. A site driven by a foundation for example, rarely ever gets to any sort of scale. How can this problem be solved?

I do get a sense that they put more effort into marketing and growth than actually fostering a solid knowledge base. However, an interesting point was raised in another comment: comparable sites that focus on quality often come across as unwelcoming because they have strict guidelines. I'm not sure it can be entirely blamed on the fact that they're VC-funded--to some extent, it seems they're more interested in being newbie-friendly than producing quality content.

TBH, I'm actually quite impressed that Reddit has lasted as long as it has and is still as vibrant as it is. Yes, of course there are tons of cesspool and misogynistic/racist/tribal areas, but I've found that I still like and frequent my niche smaller subreddits, my city subreddit (tons of trolls there but they are always downvoted and good content bubbles up) and the larger "eye candy" subreddits like r/aww.

My guess is that Reddit explicitly did not try to put VCs number 1 in their priorities, unlike, say, Digg.

Reddit was ruined with the redesign. Its buggy and slow. I get stuck on a loading screen on mobile for about 20 seconds before the page loads and half the time just shows an error. The desktop version also keeps logging me out randomly and forgetting I opted out of the redesign.

I only use old.reddit.com, I agree I hate the redesign on mobile.

I still use i.reddit.com on mobile. Pretty fast, pretty good UX, and functionality wise has most of the non-power user features one needs. No ads either. I’ve tried to switch over the years to various apps as they’ve come up but in the end have always preferred the minimalist text with small thumbnails that runs quick on any browser.

I'm in the same boat here, hope they keep it up for a little longer. The new re-design is atrocious, almost makes the website unusable for me.

Recently Reddit began to insert a huge "you want to see this too" block into the comments section (at least for unauthenticated users). What an awful solution. People don't want to see our links in the sidebar so let's put them directly into content.

They think that I am a monkey that came from Google search and is going to click links that they show to me.

The Chinese copy of it "Zhihu(Did you know?)" has become a distribution center of misinformation and misconception, a haven for "folk-science", all driven by financial gains, why would "clever ones" waste time on the internet if they can't make a buck out of it afterall, and if it's not a pragmatism populist hangout, how can they make their most valuable eyeballs keep coming back.

But the sin of it is it makes you think your are "clever" too, and both the website and the answerers are willingly fabricating, promoting and propagating deleterious garbage.

These are some good points. I find it particularly annoying that answers get blocked out unless you're logged in. Stinks like a dark pattern from a mile away.

And I agree with a lot of the comments made so far. The quality of answers has detoriated a lot. In all fairness, this has largely to do with the fact that so many people now see Quora as the 'go-to marketing platform'. As a result, people write crappy answers in hopes that someone will click their 'educational and informative' links to full blog posts. And it's unlikely this is going to go away, since moderating at this scale isn't possible without losing a lot of money in the process.

Another thing that really annoys me about Quora is that the site promotes the same people and answers almost exclusively. You have a lot of 'self-made experts' who happen to have had exposure on a large TV network or something of sorts, and all of a sudden their answers have become the gospel of knowledge. This approach makes the site feel one-sided without any real depth to answers.

That being said, it's not all bad. I enjoy writing answers on topics I know about (200k answer views in 4 years), and you can generally get someone to answer something for you rather quickly.

I used to enjoy browsing Quora about 4 years ago. Then It started showing up in Google search results for any obscure thing I would search. Most of the time I view a question, there is some type of product placement in the answers. It's not of high value to me anymore. Stack Exchange is much, much better, and even reddit.

How do these guys honestly have a real business? I know the founder was Zuck's friend.

I haven't used Quora much over the years, so maybe it has an actual reason to exist, but I was under the impression that it's a site with fake/barely real questions, with answers by folks trying to sell something. I don't think I've ever had a search result where I clicked on a Quora link and there wasn't an attempt to sell/market something in one or more of the answers. Then you click on other questions, and you're supposed to register. I've always assumed it's a junk site.

One of the original draws was asking a question and getting an answer from a guru. Like asking a question on SO and having Torvalds politely respond. It was actually a feature, not too far removed from Reddit's AMA.

Honestly, in the last few years Quora answers are just terribly bad.

It's basically turned into yahoo answers but instead of the top answer being vapid, it's vapid and an ad for some service.

To be honest, most hits on Google with Quora results are spam. I don’t see any value, unless it’s tucked away in some industry specific topics that I’m not interested in.

I had decided to close my Quora account permanently when they just outright denied the ability to read answers on mobile (even if you're logged in) to force you to use an app instead. May be it's right time to do just that.

I have been a passive user on Quora for a while now. At one point several years ago it forced me to sign up for reading an answer. This sucked.

However, I started receiving weekly digests, which included interesting questions and answers. I enjoy reading those digests and learned a bunch, professionally and personally from life experiences from other people. I never interacted until this year. It's good Sunday afternoon reading material for me.

Since I started answering questions this year (I became a top writer in certain topics), I've seen the other side too. I usually do not answer questions for pleasure only. I sometimes plug my business at the end of the answer but always make sure I answer the question and add value. I usually spend 1-2 hours on a question and I make Quora specific graphics to support my answer. Sometimes I do need to do extra research so this is where the 1-2 hours come from. I can see not everyone can spend this amount of time if it's not your business. The way I see it, people don't mind if you plug in your business if you provide value first.

Generally I'm a bit more positive than the average commenters here, as I received invaluable knowledge which changed and also solidified some of my own views. I've never compared Quora with SE, probably due to my use-case as to soak up experiences from other people instead of a source as factual information.

The value Quora provides for each individual depends on the selected topics when signing up and what you click-through in your digests. Somehow I ended up with interesting life experiences topics and never technical topics. I like airplanes but no aviation expert, but somehow I ended up receiving experiences from travellers, pilots, and crew. I find those experiences amusing to read.

I suggest to try to read and follow some of the niche topics outside programming, I think that's a better use-case for Quora.

I used to lurk on quora. Once I read an answer to anonymous question, my feed started to full of those anonymous questions. I tried hard to curate my feed, by closing the questions I didn't want to see. But I got the same kinds of things still, albeit with different questions. Agree I saw some of those questions, but it seemed as if I could no longer curate the feed with what I wanted and the algorithm especially popular on quora feed couldn't be avoided. So I started logging out and viewing answers of users I am interested in the answers of by directly going to their profile. But quora started pestering me to login if I viewed more than two questions, so I gave up and stopped using the site. It is a shame as there are some good writers whose content is only available on Quora as far as I know but now I cannot read it without reading all the crap answers in my feed.

What? Don't use Quora because it's Quora, not because of lack of APIs. Anyone can answer any question about anything. Like Reddit, Imgur, Wikipedia, this crowd sourcing of information leads to constant liquid garbage. People like to teach what they don't know and speak about nothing just to speak.

Anyone can answer, but I’ve found the Quora system to be pretty good at surfacing who knows about a given topic because of credentials attached to names.

Those credentials are just a textbox. You can say you're an expert in anything.

I believe there’s a verification process if you say you’re a PhD.

Because every question is some variation of "What should I do to become rich or financially independent before 30?". The whole site stresses me out, and is probably counter productive if that's the goal I even wanted to achieve.

It shows questions based on what you've looked up previously. You must have looked this up. I only see questions about research methodologies, for example.

I guess I'm stuck in a bad equilibrium/filter bubble then (which only hurts Quora because I haven't been on the site for ages, precisely for this reason).

Quota and Stack Exchange fail me in a particularly noticeable way. A few years ago I decided to really learn Java, I think this was around Java 7 time frame. I’ve programmed now for over 50 years, so naturally I knew Java well enough to read most of it even though I’d never developed with it.

This is where Quora and Stack Exchange seem like they would be very useful for answering questions about say type erasure or why my Eclipse configuration was giving me problems. What I discovered was that because of the almost universal use of Java by universities, the answers to every basic Java question were all over the place. So many questions, so many answers of questionable quality. It was like strolling thought a College stopping random students and asking them for help with Java. Somewhere, there is that really bright CS student providing good advice, the problem is finding him.

For just slightly more difficult Java questions (like “what does this Hibernate error message mean”) there might be no answers. Apparently, not to many students are using Hibernate.

Anyway despite having to take Java related answers with a grain of salt, Stack Exchange (and spin-offs) have been great for answering so many of my questions (LaTeX is actually fun to use because of Stack LaTeX Exchange).

Quora is one of my top Internet destinations at the moment -- you can find anything from [why farmers don't use silos any more](https://www.quora.com/What-was-very-useful-when-it-first-cam...) to [true facts about Jeff Dean](https://www.quora.com/What-are-all-the-Jeff-Dean-facts?ch=99...) to [how to compensate salespeople](https://www.quora.com/What-should-a-CEO-know-when-he-designs...).

I don't care about getting my data out any more than I care about not having transcripts of the conversations I had last month.

What I do care about is that Quora lets people delete comments on their own answers, meaning they can just lie with no way of being shamed and there's no point contradicting them.

In my experience, Quora was a godsend in the early 2010s when we were all still reeling from the prevalence of Yahoo! Answers results on the first page of Google. Quora was new and contributors worked hard to provide high quality answers.

Then people's worst instincts crept in. High profile users with lots of views in popular topics realized they could use Quora as a "brand building vehicle".

Within maybe a year (2014?), Quora was a very different experience. What used to be simple, to the point responses became lengthy, thought pieces peppered with references to one's own website, ebook or online course.

Unsurprisingly, the replies to people's responses dried up around this time as well. I remember seeing real discussions in the comments and the authors constructively discussing issues with the commenters. I rarely see that now. Usually it's just a display of view and likes.

There isn't really a Quora community anymore, just self-styled experts.

seeing what medium has become i truly think the methodology behind medium was "you know quora? i think we can do the same with a better UX and more of a focus on a western audience"

It's interesting that StackOverflow is mentioned. They make no secret of the fact that they set out to kill Experts Exchange - they recognised early on that locking up content was going to hurt their longterm prospects. They also recognized that traditional online advertising wasn't going to work for their kind of content and pursued other monetization strategies to supplement it. Which is why I'm surprised that the founders of Quora continue to beat down the same tired path that has killed so many startups before them. Do they seriously believe that what worked for their previous company is going to work for them at Quora. For a platform that's all about discussing big ideas they seem surprisingly bereft of them on the business side.

Well, as far as Quora's excuse for opting out of the archive goes... It is an admittedly great one.

One part of the article that I really disagree with is the part about the Wayback machine. As much as I believe it's important we retain the information we put on the internet, I fully support that if I put something on the internet and I am the creator of such content, I should be allowed to remove that content I created if I wish.

This is closely aligned with the GDPR's "Right to be forgotten", yes this is in relation to different information but I'm simply describing its intent. But eventually, this level of control should be given to all of us who share content on the internet. That we the curators of such content can ask of the provider to take reasonable steps to remove such content. And that if a provider wishes to restrict how widely dispersed its creators content travels then that's fine. Just because something has been posted online, doesn't mean it needs to travel far and wide.

Now yes, if I post something on the internet and I never touch it again I'm happy for it to hit the Wayback machine. However, I believe it to be important that if I did ever want that information I created to be removed, I'd have the ability to do so. Now if the Wayback machine does not allow this replication, then I understand why Quora do not allow them to use it.

If anything its a battle on both sides, a battle to provide control to the content creators around the content they create. And a battle with trying to archive everything that exists on the internet and making it publicly available regardless of the content creators current wishes.

Don't get me wrong, if you post something online expect it to be on the largest most accessible encyclopedia of information of all time. But times are changing, and we are starting to implement controls to protect our digital identity and the information we create online. My argument, is that if a content provider wishes to restrict how far and wide the information I curate on its service is spread, then there's nothing wrong with that. We should not be shaming content providers who wish to provide as much power to the curator as possible.

You don't actually have the right to be forgotten, even within GDPR. That provision was heavily modified before GDPR passed, and the final phrasing doesn't really grant you the ability to erase all of your content from the internet. (If I recall correctly, the term "right to be forgotten" was also largely replaced with "right to erasure" in the actual text of the law, with the intent of indicating that you had the right to erase certain content stored in certain ways by certain services, but you couldn't truly be "forgotten.") Remember, a lot of this information isn't actually personal, so it's mostly not covered by GDPR anyway.

If you post something to the internet, it's permanent. Lawmakers can say all they want, but someone somewhere is storing it regardless of laws, and it can get out again at any time. From a security perspective, it's irresponsible to provide people with the illusion that they can erase their tracks; they'll believe they can truly eliminate all trace of what they said and prevent any future consequences when that's clearly not the case.

Of course, let's not get too wrapped up in the GDPR's actual text. It is "Right to erasure" but is still known and referenced as "Right to be forgotten" as well.

My intent was to put forth what it is describing, which is to allow the user to request the erasure of their information and subsequently that provider should then take reasonable steps to do so.

If that provider, chooses to keep content creators information more central to itself and not allow it to be as widely spread. Then that's more power to the curator and could be something that Quora wants to uphold.

On the same token, just because something has been posted on the internet doesn't mean that the provider of such content is obligated to spread it as far and wide as they want. They are allowed, to take efforts to restrict is movement.

GDPR is almost exclusively for personal content (as in: name, email address), whereas most of the content on Quora isn't personal. GDPR makes no effort to allow you erase that.

You can certainly take efforts to restrict its movement, as Quora has done here. It's mostly futile, though, especially in this case. Archive.org might not be willing to save it, but I guarantee plenty of comparable services are.

Zenexer, again you fail to see what I'm trying to say.

I'm simply taking one of the GDPR principles and applying to them a wider variety of information outside of just PII.

>I fully support that if I put something on the internet and I am the creator of such content, I should be allowed to remove that content I created if I wish.

I disagree. Whatever is put on the internet belongs to everyone on it, just because you made it doesn't mean you should have any kind of control over what people do with it. Enforcing redaction is obviously impossible but why would you even want to? You'll never get a guarantee that it's gone but also telling other people they cannot access information you originally created is kind of a jerk move.

The reality is that 99.99% of people will never care about their phony "right" to be forgotten and the 0.01% who do most likely do so because they posted something worth wanting to be forgotten, which will be picked up by interested parties and reposted ad infinum because that's what people do with that sort of thing (dox, embarrassing pictures, etc), while the information of the 99.99% who don't care will be lost when Quora inevitably stops existing and then nobody gets it.

>If anything its a battle on both sides, a battle to provide control to the content creators around the content they create.

They don't have any, and they shouldn't either - everything on the internet should be given freely as virtually everything is received freely as well. People should be allowed to retain or repost or modify anything for any purpose, and they pretty much do. Allowing "content creators" to control their work would mean any modification of it unacceptable to them (which encompasses a lot of territory) would be impossible to distribute, making remix cultures like YTP and others impossible. This is completely unreasonable, they should just learn to deal with other people using their work for things they never intended and move on.

> phony "right" to be forgotten

That wording might be a tad harsh, but, essentially, yes, the "right to be forgotten" that most people seem to believe the GDPR provides is just an illusion. It only applies to very specific types of information gathered for specific purposes. It most certainly doesn't apply to the overwhelming majority of content posted to Quora.

That being said, there are other laws that could be at play here, such as intellectual property laws, but I'm assuming Quora either has you turn over ownership of anything you post or has you grant them an exclusive right to distribute it as they please. And if they were to decide to allow archive.org to archive it, you probably wouldn't have any right to request removal.

If you choose to disseminate information on the internet, there's no going back. You're broadcasting whatever you post with the world's largest megaphone. It's foolish to think you can reverse that process. If a government passes a law banning a book, people who've read that book still know what it said--and chances are there are still copies of the book floating around.

If you write something on the internet that you regret, that is your burden to bear for the rest of eternity. You chose to broadcast it with full knowledge of the fact that you would lose any semblance of control over the content the moment you hit Submit. It might not be ideal or fair, but that's the way it is, and laws aren't going to change it. Next time you're about to send a nasty email, think back to this comment, because what you're about to do is irreversible.

Edit: Grammar

I think in the vast majority of cases people don't actually care about deleting their content, they care mostly about disassociating something from their identity. Maybe they asked something dumb or controversial years ago and they don't want it to show up with their name on it.

I think maybe there should be more of a trend of websites not showing usernames next to posts and just an identifier like "Purple" that changes when you post on a different thread/post so you can still follow the flow of a thread but not be able to link it to unrelated posts from that person.

I cant say that knowing the usernames of posters has ever helped me on stack overflow. Mods would still be able to see it but regular users and scrapers can not.

Not a bad idea, essentially limiting your risk exposure from the start.

I agree. It also aligns with the 'right to one's own image' for example, which is important in jurisdictions like Germany and gains increasing relevance with the prevalence of facial recognition and finding oneself on social media without having given consent.

There is a real danger of the internet becoming a macabre and voyeuristic zoo where people lose control over their own data in the name of ever more transparency or public interest.

It has always been particularly interesting to me that this is an especially big issue in the US, where you would expect the opposite given how it handles these matters of privacy and non-interference in the analog world.

I completely agree. I’m the copyright holder of text I published on my own website years ago; the fact they hold on to my written copyrighted work without my permission, ignoring my explicit request to remove it from their internal database is infuriating.

They honor formal takedown notices. Follow the instructions here: https://archive.org/about/terms.php

I really don't see why not choosing to archive their data for privacy reasons is that big of a deal. I personally find it much better than having everything stay forever. I've always found the notion that everything must be shared with the whole world quite strange.

The other reason is that it's turning into Yahoo answers ...

> Nearly every major online service has had a security breach: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Tumblr, Uber, Evernote, eBay, Adobe, Target, and Sony... Security breaches like these are a strong argument for using a password manager...

I don't recall a major password manager security breach, but I am afraid it is only a question of time. And the consequences will not be just compounded, they will be multiplied.

This is why most password managers use encryption to store your passwords. They should never be sent to the provider of the password manager in plaintext form.

And if you are still afraid of that, use a password manager which does not store it's data on somebody else's server.

I never signed up to Quora, but they made me an account and started sending me notifications anyway. Several of my peers found the same thing.

Same here. It’s likely a Facebook partnership since for me at least the email was one I used on fb only. Not sure how someone else would guess that email.

Someone probably signed up using your email address. It happens to me weekly.

Don't they verify that you own the email address?

Most sites don’t, at least outside EU. They have to let you unsubscribe, but can otherwise email you all they want.

For me Quora has improved, I get really interesting answers emailed to me on topics I find interesting, Roman history is one

I agree, while I don't visit or use the site anymore, I enjoy the newsletter. Also fan of history so in that aspect it improved. Not in some other areas though.


My experience with Quora is that it is a modern Yahoo Answers. Every time I end up there (because it appeared in a Google results page) the answers are always somebody trying to promote their product, page, etc related to the topic at hand. Not an expert but a biased entrepreneur.

It’s a bit odd that the author did not seem to take on Quora’s legitimate concern over a writer’s ability to edit or remove content from Quora and to then see that reflected in Archive. There are consequences to that, sure. But honestly that makes me want to contribute to Quora more.

I don't like Quora. But I'm still looking for a good alternative.

A proper subreddit.

I'm curious, doesn't the GDPR require sites allow users to download all their data, in other words their questions and answers on Quora? The article claims they don't allow this.

I agree with this article 100%. I have posted answers on quora to only have them disappear. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason on posts, moderation, and who sees what answer.

I agree with the view... But how do you get non HN people to stop using Quora? Ultimately it's that much larger audience that determines if it lives or dies.

I am a bit late to the party, but I also dislike how Quora blurs the text if you are not logged in. Sometimes I am incognito mode so this is a problem.

I followed the “Math” topic and found my feed filled with silly, primary- and middle school- level homework questions.

That’s when I stopped to use Quora.

What is a good alternative to Quora?

I know of Stack Overflow/Exchange however you can’t ask open ended questions there

I asked it directly to Quora, but they didn't answer (so wondering if someone knows the answer here). According to GDPR, if I request them, they have to delete all of my data they ever had - Is my understanding true here? I want to do that, but I'm afraid if they'll actually do it.

Has Quora not peaked already? I was a fan of it in the early '10s, but around 2013/14 it seemed to experience an influx of users who turned it into an alternative to Yahoo! Answers. With no way of filtering them out, it seemed pointless continuing to use it.

spammers with Indian sounding names killed it. Question how much is 3*3?

You'd get 40 answers spamming their website, 20 life stories of completely uneventful event, and then answer 9 repeatedly posted like 11 times.

Holy shit I just logged in for the first time in years and on my homepage was pretty much that. No life stories but way more than 40 answers.


I know I shouldn't, but I'm awfully tempted to test this.

Just block answers by Indian users. It will be alright again.

system2 72 days ago [flagged]

Sad but true, but it will never happen. Quora is traffic hungry and get millions of visits (if not all) from India region. It is literally cancer at this point.

Quora was great years ago, but now it’s just a glorified Yahoo Answers full of Indians giving non-answers and fake stories in broken English.

Exactly. Essays on essays being written on irrelevant, hell even if you decide to skip and scroll past any answers that look like ebook you can't scroll enough to skip to the precise and meaningful answers.

This is my go-to example of the type of hilariously terrible Quora answer that plagues the site: https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-learn-competitive-programming...

90% of that "advice" could be copy pasted onto any "how do I learn something", and the remaining two sentences related to competitive programming are so vague that he links to the wikipedia page on "Algorithms" and the wikipedia page on "Programming Language"

And that gets you 460 upvotes, far above some of the better answers at the bottom of the thread.

This answer looks to be written by an AI.

Yes. Apparently from an 'Idea machine'

As an Indian, I have to agree. My feed is filled with questions about salaries and IT jobs, even though I've never held an IT job or want one. The answers are insipid, the burden of proof is entirely anecdotal, and brevity is apparently not a thing.

Plus, the platform is now filled with spammers just promoting their own companies. Ask a question about how to manage a project better and you'll only get some spammer promoting his software instead of actually sharing tactics.

This bizarre racism seems quite off-topic.

On one hand I feel the same reaction you have to the parent, phrased this way it sounds like he/she is denigrating a whole nation.

On the other hand, there was something that happened here that we should probably talk about.

A few years ago some of the topics (especially human-relationship subjects) experienced a sudden surge of content from people from India. I know many smart and erudite Indians, and these new users... weren't. I don't know what happened. Maybe Quora suddenly became a fad with the pre-teens in India? Kids online are generally insufferable from all cultures.

The platform didn't digest this well. Quite a few topics that used to be interesting suddenly became filled with garbage. I stopped watching many. Now I seem to just get bombarded with WW2 trivia, which is ok I guess, but I kinda miss "the old Quora".

It's an awkward subject but the parent's comment can't just be discounted as racism.

Eternal September.


What happened in India was from mid-2016 usable internet access became super cheap. This suddenly added at least a hundred million new users to the Internet in a short span of time, people who were being exposed to totally new communities beyond their facebook friend circle. This is not about India, this happens whenever there is a clash between new users and old users and the number of new users is overwhelmingly larger than the old ones. This should have happened when China started getting internet, but I guess their government policies coupled with less number of English speakers than India prevented it. But this is not the last time this is happening. After the Indians settle down, I guess next will be Africa and we will start again.

When AOL first created its portal to Usenet newsgroups in the 1990s, there was a similar effect.

Very true. Funny anecdote:

I used to be an avid reader of alt.best-of-internet. When AOL put newsgroups online, alt.best-of-internet was at the top of the alphabetical list and suddenly got a deluge of nonsense. Please to AOL went unheard.

Someone got the brilliant idea to keep a thread bumped to the top whose title was:


I don't know if this was cause/effect, but shortly afterwards alt.best-of-internet was hidden or moved to a less conspicuous location in the UI and the deluge stopped.

vtesucks 72 days ago [flagged]

If you're okay with pointing out that statistically Indians are much more likely to make stupid answers, what's wrong with saying statistically blacks are much more likely to commit crimes.

Choose both or none.

Crimes are/ might be more likely to be committed by blacks, in some countries. Being black doesn't make you more likely to commit a crime.


I think he's talking about the difference between correlation and causation.

You're right though in that from a law enforcement POV the two look roughly the same.

> Kids online are generally insufferable from all cultures.

Hey man thats ageist! I know X kids that are probably smarter than the average adult!

Maybe we should have a conversation on ageism now.

Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?

Maybe we should. Because assholes of all ages tend to be blamed on kids - thirty years old someone being toxic on the internet is assumed to be teenager even when his/her age is known.

The follow up question is: if we truly assume it is all kids being jerks, why do adults dont voice disapproval the way they would in real life, but rather sheepishly enable it? Role modeling and it takes a village and all that.

He absolutely 10000% correct, it is not racism. Quora is 98% Indian (or similar region country people) asking fake questions to "market" their crappy service.

It is incredibly obvious if you ever visit once. (Probably will be your first visit because you didn't notice it.)

It is indeed not racism. I was an editor at Quora in its early days as a way to make some easy side money. I'd say something on the order of 90% of the unedited content in the queue originates in India, and it's terrible. Loads and loads of repetitive, already-answered questions (a seemingly never-ending flood) about IIT or body shops and worried queries about which engineering school is the best or the most competitive, all badly written and horribly spelled. And that's before you even get to the scammy stuff!

Not just people marketing their services but people marketing themselves.

People post questions about themselves and then proceed to answer those questions to build an online presence.

This bizarre racism where nobody states what's blatantly apparent because it can be misinterpreted as racist and people claim racism so as to seem not-racist seems quite off-logic.

Have you used the website? It’s not racism if it’s reality

Quora was great years ago, but now it’s just a glorified Yahoo Answers full of ... non-answers and fake stories in broken English.

Tell me about it. I was probably among the few thousands of Indians using the website during 2012-2013. It helped me so much with learning programming, asking experts, reading about their experiences about working on large scale projects. I thought Quora was the go-to place for useful advices. A year or so and a Quora popularity boom later, I had hundreds of followers, feeds with all kinds of life stories and experiences, and all stuff I deemed useless. I decided to delete my account. The shitloads of crap that Indians have spewed on Quora is most probably the only thing I feel shameful about as an Indian.

There's a weird/fascinating subculture of "Indian Quora," a bit like the ruNet. Check out /r/indianpeoplequora, or just this question: https://www.quora.com/What-is-Indian-thug-life-like. It's a deep Indian circlejerk that's invisible to most of Quora.

What's wrong with Indians?

reddit.com/r/IndianPeopleQuora is pretty active

Well, in the tech world (especially online), they tend to provide low-quality service and bad codes. Quora is an free Indian-web-service-provider advertising platform. Nothing else. It is frustrating to see all off-shore "developers" coming up with a solution to your problems.

It's pretty ironic, that 2 of the top tech companies have Indian CEOs.

Statistically, it is very insignificant.

Market cap-wise, not quite so insignificant.

Accomplishments of few people are not enough to fix the epidemic.

Reminds me about the Quora's "India Problem" in 2013. I am an Indian and I stopped going on Quora within a month of joining the service. Now, from the looks of it, it has actually worsened.

Yet you have the Indians to thank for your username: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guru

How is the etymology of "Guru" relevant to this discussion?

It is relevant because the parent made a disparaging remark about Indians on Quora, while having a username with a borrowed word from India. I dislike the antipathy shown towards Indians online (and off), and I try to combat it where I can.

There are more civil and polite methods of expressing dissatisfaction than the kind of blanket statement that gurumeditations has resorted to above.

Quora logs you in automatically if you're logged in to google.

Also makes it extremely hard to log out.

Not to mention they have no respect for users.

I don't know how you think this is actually possible. It sounds to me like you just logged in using oauth…

Edit: Hey, downvoters, it's not possible to just use Google's login mechanism without prompting an initial OAuth flow at some point in time. If it is, instead of proving me wrong here, tell Google how and you can make some good money out of it.

As was said below, if you want, you can revoke tokens here: https://myaccount.google.com/permissions

When a service typically uses an external identity provider, they usually still have local accounts that are created and linked to that form of authentication. Of course the user will always need to authenticate using that same external identity provider ,but it can be forced by the application server by initiating oauth without provocation in the backend.

What this seems like is after the user initially logged in and consented with Google, Quora went ahead and decided that they would initiate the oauth flow whenever the user visits the page regardless of whether the user explicitly hits the login button or not.

I did, once. But after that one entirely new sessions, they automatically "click" the sign in to google button behind the scenes and log me in with the token.

Very creepy

The first time you logged in with Google, you were presented with a User Consent screen that said "this website wants access to this information, do you agree?" and you clicked yes.

To break the link, go into Google and see what sites, apps, etc you granted access to. That's a good thing to do regularly anyway with every social provider.

I wrote about the implications of poorly implemented and abusive social authentication practices last month: https://www.scmagazine.com/home/security-news/using-social-a...

Revoke the auth with google and clear any cookies you have with Quora. Worse that will happen if they redirect you to google to login.

I don't like Quora, but... that's just how OAuth is meant to work.

I will say I appreciate Facebook's approach to this - after 60-90 days, you have to affirmatively reconfirm your initial authorization when they send you through the OAuth flow.

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