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Quora goes permanently remote-first (twitter.com)
488 points by swyx 11 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 256 comments

There's an insightful series of comments from Sid, CEO of Gitlab about why this is not likely to work over the long term:


It might be different for Quora given that their CEO and SLT will be remote.

But I still believe that whenever you have an office you are creating a community of employees who will have a different relationship to those who are working remotely.

Sid explicitly says he expects we (Quora) avoided the pitfalls of hybrid companies in this comment: https://www.quora.com/q/quora/Remote-First-at-Quora/comment/...

Two Stanford grad students explicitly stated how they expected to avoid the pitfalls of advertising-based search engines.


Inherent system dynamics in the mirror are larger than they appear.


Thanks for linking. I missed the 6 hour 'coordination time' when I made that comment. I think that async as the default is very important to be remote first https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/asynchro...

Based on this I mentioned Quora as an example on https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/stages/#...

> But I still believe that whenever you have an office you are creating a community of employees who will have a different relationship to those who are working remotely.

Fully concur. Senior leadership needs to lead by example, whether it be remote work, taking paternity leave, or using a healthy amount of vacation. As some have pointed out, remote work as some companies has the potential to become the new "Unlimited Vacation"-- i.e. technically the policy but employees worried about advancement are unlikely to take advantage.

Props to Quora leadership for leading by example.

>Senior leadership needs to lead by example

I was having dinner with a friend of mine who is a senior manager at a well-known SV company that has "unlimited vacation." He was telling me that the CEO absolutely sets an example of taking unplugged vacations. In fact, he told me that they had a PR person a while back who just couldn't deal with the CEO being out of pocket for an extended time to the point where they just quit.

I don't know, I don't really personally need "leading by example". That would mean a leading position getting into the details of the code and that's not going to happen. I need clearly defined goals though and freedom to choose technology to achieve them. That is possible remotely the same as in an office, only that in an office costs me time unnecessarily, which is frustrating.

"Leading by example" does not mean a leader doing the same job as you.

OK, that's fair and constructive criticism, I take that! You got a point there.

Now it would be great to know, in what aspects a leading person can act in certain ways, that I can copy while doing my job. It also needs to be things, that I don't already do. That would be even more constructive criticism.

You got a point though, and I will think about what those things could be, that someone in a leading position does, that I could copy as behaviors, that are ethically good and also good for the job.

I think the context here is that if a company advertises perks like unlimited vacation, and remote work, then you want to see that employees who take advantage of the perks are not at a disadvantage when it comes to the work they do or advancement in the company. If company leadership is taking frequent vacations and working from home often, it's a better sign that you won't be disadvantaged for doing that than if the company leadership was always working and always in the office.

My first question after someone mentions unlimited vacation is "how much vacation did the boss use last year?". If it's less than 4 weeks, I would view that company as being dishonest about their vacation policy.

The same thing applies to the number of hours worked. I value work-life balance and so if my boss is working 60 hours a week, I will know that company is not for me, because the boss would view me and my insistence on working 40 hours or less as uncommitted to company goals.

I'm as big of a remote work supporter as you'll find. I'm often crucified for how anti-office I am. Having said that, a hybrid model is absolutely not remote work. It's not distributed. It's a nightmare. Every single person in the company, including executives, needs to be remote.

My company has made the hybrid model work. We've had a mix of fully remote along with two physical offices. It's really not all that complex, conference rooms have to have a video conference system that is added by default to all meetings. Ad-hoc meetings can start video with a single button press and a short code/url sent over slack.

We strongly encourage employees to keep discussions in 'public' slack rooms rather than private messages. This can be noisy but allows for inclusivity. Team members are free to choose which channels to join and are encouraged configure alerting to manage the noise. Only takes a few minutes to set up.

Performance needs to be measured by work output rather than time in the office, but companies should be doing that regardless.

Face-to-face on-boarding and intros to the team are preferable so we would fly in new-hires wherever possible for the first couple weeks. Beneficial but not required.

Meetings where some/most of the people are in a room and some are dialing in suck for those dialing in. We started requiring everyone to dial in, even if one person was, and it levels the communication playing field immensely.

"Suck" is maybe too strong a term--though it can be the case if most of the team is co-located and there's one person who always has to dial in. A number of teams I work with also have an "everyone dials in" rule even though they're pretty distributed anyway.

As someone who is mostly remote, I never had too much of a problem with hybrid meetings. People in a conference room are pretty respectful that there are people on the phone in my experience. That said, the current situation where everyone is dialing in individually is something of a meeting upgrade overall. People have also gotten better at collaboratively edited agendas etc. not that they were bad to start with.

Why does it suck? We try to ensure that everyone's voice is heard plus remote members have some advantage in that people in the room can see them unmute as an indicator that they have something to say. Some also use the text chat attached to the meeting allowing them to raise a point without verbally interrupting the person speaking (although this is more rare).

Seems pretty extreme to require everyone to dial-in even if they are present in the office.

The dynamic is just different for those dialling in. People are simply not on the same level than those on site who have a clear advantage. I saw this working relatively well when the person remote is some senior person coming with a lot of experience to insert himself in the conversation. It's maybe even better because others may now have the chance to say something (lol) Generally speaking, this works well, when the main persons of the meeting are not all on site so that the videoconference becomes the primary communication. Otherwise, it's just that those who don't say that much will say even less (or nothing).

Btw, I'm also a big fan of remote working, but no matter how good your communication skills are, you're left behind on the longer term within an hybrid team. You just can't build all these relationships with smalltalk etc. that's another problem

I guess it also depends on the company and the style of the employees you work with - in my old organisation we made it work because it was embedded, but also everyone was just genuinely nice and not trying to score little political points here and there.

Even with over 500 employees, the lack of a career ladder as such meant there's little to gain by being the loudest in the room or trying to work the room. Perhaps that's also an ingredient - it might be easier to minimise others' egos when you're also in the room?

People in a room communicate via gestures and body language. Leveling that is tough.

That's also one reason why many people on autistic spectrum prefer video conferences over physical meeting - responses have to be given more explicit.

And what is the breakdown of executives, managers, etc between on-prem and remote?

Ar my company, which is (normally) a mixture of on-prem (at many different offices) and remote/WFH, I'm sure all of the senior leadership team have offices somewhere. But many/most of their reports and other people they coordinate with are in different offices/remote and most of them are traveling most of the time anyway.

In think the opinions of a lot of people here are shaped by small companies where everyone is on a floor or two of a building. At global companies, the reality is that people are pretty distributed and you have late night and early morning phone calls.

West Coast to Europe is tough for day-to-day synchronous communications. We don't have many people on the West Coast and are pretty much East Coast-centric (and Europe to a lesser degree). And that coordination works fairly well.

Are you one of those working fully remote or in the physical office?

I worked fully remote for a couple years, then spent a year or so in the physical office, and now back to remote due to covid.

I used to work somewhere where you could work wherever you wanted to, but we had an office. Most people rolled in and out several days per week - you solved for it by creating habits and systems.

The single most important thing is that everyone has the option. You don't really need to sell the office to make it work, but that everyone from the CEO to even (perhaps surprisingly, the front of house team) has the same freedom to work from wherever suits.

A counterpoint would be that other companies, including Stripe, have found ways to make this work with some deliberate effort: https://stripe.com/blog/remote-hub-one-year

The question is, does that 'community' effect offer a measurable, competitive advantage to businesses with offices vs those that don't?

If no competitive edge is present, it is wasted spending that could be redirected into more fruitful efforts: growing R&D, etc.

The parent comment isn't comparing fully remote with fully in the office. The issue they see (and discussed in the linked twitter thread) is in a company with some office, and some remote, remote workers will be left out from activities that take place in the office, and those physically present will do better career-wise.

The parent isn't, but considering the full range of options is still a useful discussion to have, which is why I added my comment. It all comes down to money. The twitter thread prophesied losing all of your best talent in a half office / half remote setup. Your best, most skilled talent sticks around first and foremost for their premium compensation, above all other factors.

> Employees will discover that the company didn't make the shift from rewarding attendance to rewarding output, and that remote workers are not getting promoted at an equal rate because they are less visible. Jeff Morris Jr. had a good take on this in [0]

Personally, I don't see this as a big problem. I never considered being promoted the way up in the (admittedly, just a few) companies I worked in. Mostly because I don't feel like working at the same place for a long time and because switching jobs will most likely give you a better pay too.

Obviously, this is coming from someone in his mid twenties that has only worked in 2 places and then went freelance and mostly remote for businesses in The Netherlands. So maybe people do disagree at other places.

[0]: https://twitter.com/sytses/status/1264345783433740288

Wholeheartedly agree I worked remotely for the first 6 years or so of my career and hybrid approaches turn the remote team into second class citizens more like contractors.

Wonder if it ever happens the other way around?

Does the office team ever turn into second class citizens?

I would say it depends on where the decision makers are.

So it would not be about remote-first vs office-first as others have said

If you are not invited to the VIP zoom meeting you are also second class no matter where you are

> CEO and SLT will be remote

What's an SLT?

Senior Leadership Team

I’m assuming senior leadership team based on Adam’s tweet.

a community of employees who will have a different relationship to those who are working remotely

Which makes it sound like a bad thing. I would turn that around and say that remote work changes the relationship an employee has with their family and neighbourhood.

Now what sounds better? I think it’s time we revived our relationships outside of work and started building communities to live in, not just to work in.

There are lots of reasons this will not work:

In several organizations, there are a range of middle management layers who only do communications and lights on work. These people will be laid off in as little as a year when their positions start becoming obsolete. Really once the brokers get separated from party the culling will be ruthless. To me the biggest opposition will come from middle management layers. The obvious reason cited will be 'collaboration','productivity' etc, but the real reason will be saving their own jobs.

There is also an added problem of work being easily shipped out to foreign lands. Outsourcing is likely to increase and that will invite more backlash. New hire onboarding is one more area of problem, mostly because of the absence of face to face initial assistance in getting onboard. This is true for big companies given the range of in house systems and tech some one needs to be aware of before starting to contribute.

Lastly, I feel even at individual levels this will effect us all bad. Most programmers are bad at exercise and sitting at home will only amplify unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits. I expect such people will get worse off over time, obesity and diseases will increase. Absence of peer pressure/influence on skill gaining is one area I suspect will suffer in the absence of an office.

One interesting aspect of this is that they still explicitly expect "synchronous" work, timezones be damned:

> We have initially designated 9am to 3pm Pacific Time as “coordination hours” where most employees will be expected to be available for meetings and impromptu communication, regardless of where they are located. This maps to 6am to 12pm in Hawaii, 12pm to 6pm Eastern Time, 5pm to 11pm in the UK, and 6pm to 12am across most of Europe

I know that I wouldn't work for them from Europe if those were the conditions.

It seems an excessively long window. Six hours isn't a "coordination window"; it's a workday.

It's reasonable to have a set time when you can ensure that everybody will be together, so that you have at least some overlap for synchronous communication every day. But one or two hours seems appropriate, rather than six.

Even within the US, there are workers who want to work shift like 10-6, or even 12-8, without seeming entirely out of touch with the staff. It's good to mix such people into your team: it means you get some kind of coverage later in the day for people working late, emergencies, etc.

European here, and the 6PM-12AM window is the one I feel the most productive in. I guess it will be a big change for a majority of people but I would definitely be interested by this.

Moreover when I work, I work, so if the sun is already down I'm ok with it; when it's up I can do all the active parts of my day that are more enjoyable during the day.

Still, it's not perfect. I don't think it would be that big of a deal for social life, because most events happen during the weekend anyway, but you'd still be expected to not be available for anything. Hopefully this is just the first phase for Quora, and they'll realize at some point that the whole point of working remote is that everything is asynchronous and synchronous is the exception

Doesn’t work for families. 6pm - 9pm is primetime for kids. But who cares about them oldies, right? /s

When I managed teams with flex hours, several parents explicitly preferred to work 4PM to midnight because they could spend the morning with their kids while their spouse worked their day job.

If the working hours are presented up front and agreed upon by all, I don’t see why this is any more problematic than any other shift work. There are a lot of programmers out there who are naturally night owls and would prefer those hours anyway.

Having direct experience with this, I can say that it’s not only not a problem, it’s a bonus for many. Including people with children.

Let the people decide what’s best for themselves and choose jobs accordingly. Don’t shame companies who don’t fit your own personal ideals of working hours.

People complain about this. People would complain if they said they only hire in North American timezones. That said, a big window of synchronous communications between US West Coast and Europe is tough. East Coast to Europe is much more doable on a day-to-day basis.

I was actually having a conversation with someone I know in the UK about this a while back. His feeling was that it was a something of an advantage for a company that wants both a large US and a European presence to be East Coast-based for this reason.

> East Coast-based for this reason.

Or anywhere east of Chicago roughly (a large chunk of US/Canada is in Eastern time).

Even Chicago (Central Time) isn't too bad.

It starts getting iffy with Pacific and Mountain Time zones and CET.

> Don’t shame companies who don’t fit your own personal ideals of working hours.

It's not "my" ideal - I don't set school hours. In fact, unsociable hours are defined in law, for many, many reasons.

Quora's approach is shortsighted and, in my opinion, fundamentally ageist towards their European workers - and I say that as someone who definitely prefers to work afternoons.

Trust me, there is demand for programming jobs that work night-owl hours. A surprising number of programmers loathe morning work schedules. If Quora wants to create a job for them, there’s nothing wrong with that.

You don’t have to work there. You don’t have to work those hours. But please don’t shame a company for creating an opportunity for the people who voluntarily prefer those hours.

The alternative isn’t that Quora is forced to let European employees work their own schedules while everyone else has to follow the rules. The alternative is that Quora simply decides not to hire in Europe.

> The alternative is that Quora simply decides not to hire in Europe

Well then, so much for competition for best talent and all that jazz. I'm sure Quora's competitors will be happy to pick up the slack.

> Trust me, there is demand for programming jobs that work night-owl hours.

That is not the point. There is demand for night-time-guard jobs too. That doesn't mean it's a particularly appealing job, or that night-time guards are the best guards, or that regular guards won't be pissed off when you tell them from now on it's night-time shifts only, or that society as a whole is happy to have all these night-time guards around.

It seems like a fair compromise to say “you have to work our hours because we believe it’s important to have this overlap” rather than “sorry we’re only hiring in North and South America”

> When I managed teams with flex hours, several parents explicitly preferred to work 4PM to midnight because they could spend the morning with their kids while their spouse worked their day job.

This seems like it would be good for the younger children and then invert once they started attending school.

Also not easy to stay in touch with friends, which is even more important when all your colleagues are across the ocean.

Why choose to work there from Europe if you have such constraints?

Indeed, I guess Quora will become (even more of) a singles-fest in Europe.

My point is that as a general model, it fails hard here.

The current general model for US companies is to not hire people in Europe at all. That fails even harder.

Meh, plenty of companies open European subsidiaries every day. Google, Twitter and Facebook are massive in Ireland.

Becoming a multinational company with foreign subsidiaries is a whole different ballpark than hiring a one-off foreign employee, though.

And those employees aren’t technically employed by US companies. They’re employed by Irish companies that are owned by US companies.

The vast majority of US tech companies are not multinationals and aren’t going to consider incorporating overseas to hire anyone.

Many oldies don't have families.

Can’t tell if you’re mildly trolling or serious.

The obvious point is that enough people in EU have children/families to make these hours a huge burden if not outright unworkable.

Presumably they think "workers in EU timezones will have to work unsociable hours" is a more generous policy than "we don't hire workers in EU timezones"

Of course, policies like "no cross-continent teams" or "no meetings whatsoever" would be even better - but that's an even bigger corporate re-organisation.

Definitely generous towards the taxman! All that extra taxable on unsociable hours...

> them oldies

Actually the real “oldies” are paying for their kid’s college tuition now.

Same, i do most of my work in those hours (amsterdam), being synced with the US is a nice bonus.

That’s a pretty insane expectation given that their physical office presumably don’t require working at midnight. (Good luck getting that one past European regulators)

I used to work from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a company in Sydney, Australia for few years. Interesting dynamics working for the company on the other side of the globe, I think it was 13h difference. Some aspects were good, you were basically left to do your job without interruptions for the day. You/they wake up to the updates on the other side.

Sounds like you had a pretty sweet gig.

In my European country you're required to pay 125-200% for night and sunday shifts, I wonder if they will do that.

Baseline pay is arbitrary, so if you're always working the same night hours it doesn't matter what part is called base salary and what part is additional payment for night work.

> Baseline pay is arbitrary

Nope. Most of Europe has minimum wage regulations, and especially tech workers have the freedom to walk whenever they choose and go to competition.

Of course I'm aware of minimum wages, presumably Quora is not paying it's tech workers minimum wage.

They'll just do the usual thing when regulations pose a problem: work around them or not hire in that region. That's the tradeoff with regulations, you lose some potentials business.

Why would regulators be involved in setting employees working hours?

> Why would regulators be involved in setting employees working hours?

That's what regulators do: they regulate stuff. That "stuff" includes – in particular in many European countries – employee working hours.

Let me introduce to something called labour laws. You'll find this surprising, but they exist in the US as well (even though they are much more lax there).

Another surprise for you: work is not supposed to be indentured servitude anymore.

Seems senior management wants the same amount of synchronous meetings rather than investing in more asynchronous communication. If they're just mimicking in-person approaches then that bodes ill for the whole initiative in my view. I say senior management because they're usually the only ones who have 6+ hours of meetings per day.

Timezones matter. London is a financial hub because it's able to work with both the US east coast (NY) and also most of Asia-Pacific. NY and Asia-Pacific though is doable but tougher (12-13h difference).

The toughest is when you need to include folks from SF, London and HK [1]. There's just no good overlap. Either you rotate the suffering or you get disgruntled employees.

One solution is to decide which timezone is most important to you, and then restricting hiring +/- 6 hours from that timezone. Or split up synchronous meetings to two different sessions for two different sides of the world (this might lead to content bifurcation but may work in some instances).

It's a serious quality of life issue that employers ignore or downplay at their peril -- by not respecting timezones, employers are signaling they don't care. Employees on the short end of the stick with respect to timezone feel unimportant and excluded (first hand knowledge of this), especially if it's imposed from above without consultation.

Even small timezone differences are annoying -- I'm in Central Time and people in Eastern Time keep scheduling meetings around my lunchtime. The only way to get around this is to add fake calendar items around lunch time to block off that time.

[1] https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html

> 5pm to 11pm in the UK, and 6pm to 12am across most of Europe

This is completely ridiculous and means abandoning any kind of family or social life. It also means they probably only hire young, single people with no kids. Based on this, they sound like a seriously insensitive and diversity-hostile company.

I think it sounds much more reasonable if you read it as them saying "We suggest you stay within the PST time zone. If you want to live in a different time zone that's fine, but we won't change our core hours for you".

> It also means they probably only hire young, single people with no kids.

I worked at a company that did this. It actually attracted a lot of parents who wanted to spend mornings with their kids while their spouse was at work, rather than send them off to childcare.

Just because it doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean it won’t be ideal for someone else. Always good to have options.

The parents I know who could do flex-time liked to spend the morning/afternoon with their kids and then work in the evenings. For younger kids that allows you to split-shift with your partner while for older kids you get to be there when they get ready/get home from school.

In France kids from 6 years old onward, get home from school between 5 and 6 pm and usually have extracurricular activities after that. Then they are supposed to go to bed at around 10 pm.

So if you're working 5-11 pm you're only going to see your kids at breakfast at best (if they don't skip it because they're late). You're also not going to have dinner together as a family, which, to me, would be unacceptable.

>I know that I wouldn't work for them from Europe if those were the conditions.

There is no system that would satisfy everyone. You wouldn't work for them but pretty sure many other people wouldn't find it a burden.

In this modern day the concept of working only during the daylight is slowly disappear. In most big city, night time can still pretty lively.

My assumption is that Quora is very CONUS-focussed, no?

So a 9-3 PT window is pretty reasonable for that region, especially if they're transitioning from offices where you were expected to be at a desk.

It's absolutely true that the work window is unpalatable much east of Nova Scotia, but they also don't have any people IN those zones now.

OTOH, being able to move to Ireland (e.g.) and keep your job -- albeit with super weird hours -- is pretty neat.

If remote-first with American timezone becomes a trend, I could see Indians and Chinese moving to South America.

I expect there to be a momentary burst in attempts to go remote-first, or at least hybrid. Senior executives will want to level the playing field between expensive areas and cheaper ones, and use that to drive down salaries overall.

But then, there are plenty of managers who really see a lot of value in spontaneous face-to-face interactions, or even planned ones, because so much communication happens just in body language alone. So I expect to see a rebound as the next generation of ambitious managers decide there is a competitive edge in an all-local team.

Im still waiting for the rebound back to a cubicle.

Fuck open plan.

I really wish people would get it through their damned thick skulls that their heads are not the same as my head. And my head is not the same as her head. And her head is not the same as their head.

We all need our own accomidations. Some people like open plan, some people hate it. Some people thrive in an office environment, some people thrive at home.

These things arent mutually exlcusive. Someone isnt wrong. You can have both things be true.

Yes, in the real world you cant cater to everything everyone demands, but that also doesnt follow that you should just give up and cater only to the lowest common denominator - what some schlep in middle management thinks they know about productivity and psychology.

How about actual offices? You know, rooms with walls and doors.

My yearly salary could build a comfortable home for a family of 4 every single year in some of the cheaper places in this country, I'm pretty sure my company laptop at several of my employers has retailed > $4000, yet 4 feet of desk space and a chair that seemed to have lived a hard life on the streets has been my most common accommodation. Surely an office and a parking space for every employee isn't an impossibility. And if it is then you can't afford to be in the market you're trying to operate in.

I can guarantee that I would have been a happier more productive employee if I were given a private space, near colleagues but by default separated from them away from home.

Growing up on hundreds of acres where the nearest human was often more than a mile away, having the experience of daily being obligated to board public transit for 90 minutes and then spend 8 hours in an open office in the middle of a downtown area was subtly but deeply unsettling. Being constantly so far away from the ability to have any private space or space which was mine in any way, and worse the only way to get to a space which was was by being jostled on a packed train for up to two hours was simply bad for my mental health.

Because you attract talent by high salaries, so try to save elsewhere (especially when office rental prices are astronomical).

You yourself are yet another proof of this - you changed whatever rural environment you had to go into cramped office with very high salary. Clearly, the money was more important to you than vast open plains and remoteness. Most folks work this way.

You ask for private space near colleagues - that's a premium anywhere. I presume you don't mean tiny cubicle but actual quiet room. Almost nobody has these in corporate environment for various reasons, certainly not regular employees.

Aye, this. I need to fit 250 people in a single floor in a big city. One floor is already expensive as hell, and I'm not going to pick up 2-3 more. Hell, even my managers don't get offices.

Ah, a fellow sardine fan!

People near the senior levels of management spend a lot of time worrying about dollars, to the exclusion of everything else. And since they tend to do a pretty piss-poor job of quantifying employee morale as it relates to productivity, that gets ignored. My company saved a half million dollars a year by making the lease smaller. Great, right? Except that in our building we have hundreds of developers. Let's say ~100M in fully loaded costs. So if moving them all from cubicles into six-foot bench seating (no, not kidding) knocked down their productivity by 10%, then the open office was a net loss. But they can't quantify that, so it's not even considered. Well, until we lost about 10% of our developers in a single year, but I'm not sure if even then senior management got a clue.

My last company tried to end their practice of providing plastic spoons in the break area. Probably spent more money in wages to write the email than it costs to buy a box of spoons that'll last the better part of a year. That one actually got people riled up enough to complain, because it was both inconvenient and incredibly petty. We were just going to buy a box of spoons from Webstaurant Store and expense it. LOL. Silly managers trying to impress their own managers by saving every penny.

Your revealed preference is for this job and not one of the remote jobs or any of the private-office jobs. Perhaps employers are responding to your revealed preference over your stated preference.

I work from home. Have for 3 years. Its great.

I like working in a team room - several developers working on the same product. Great for collaboration. Almost without fail, proponents of remote work like to compare remote to open plan offices only. There are other ways of working too.

During the pandemic I have been working from home for three months. Mostly it has worked pretty well. However, I do think you miss some aspects of collaboration when you do. I hardly ever see anybody touch on this. Probably because many people see getting rid of the commute as such a big plus. I sympathise with that view.

But I tried to touch on what I think we lose here: https://henrikwarne.com/2020/06/09/working-from-home-cons-an...

I totally support team rooms. I have had great success with those. I'd happily take a cube over an open office, but I'd take a conference room for each team (with real desks, though, not a big table ;-)) over any other option.

The place I'm at now has six-foot bench seating for everyone below VP. The dividers between rows aren't even tall enough to block your vision when you're sitting. It's a terrible arrangement, very noisy.

Open office is great for covid world!

You're holding contradictory positions. Everybody has a valid preference, but you can't wait for companies to implement yours (cubicle)?

I think they’re saying that cubicle is less restrictive than open-plan for accomodating different personalities.

Hyperbole.. what are you ten?

Oh no i did it again, somebody stop me.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21990253 - "Personal cubicle is going to be a new dream of many software engineers. People will start hating open space."

> next generation of ambitious managers

Fuck, I really hope I am out of software by then. Ambitious managers are the worst


Can you please not be an asshole on HN? That's worse than being inane.

I really hope we see some specialized remote worker residential communities in the future. Actually, I’m sure there’ll be money in building them.

Imagine a small town with no cars or roads. The community has lots of events to socialize you with your neighbors. Lots of traditions and festivals. Some communities may look like Brooklyn—row houses, except just grass and trees lining the blocks. Maybe another community would have a quirkier layout, with maze-like walking paths between apartment buildings.

And perhaps when enough of these like-minded remote workers are living near each other, some of them will find that they enjoy working in the same physical location at the same time. Then some of the space in the community can be turned into hubs for in-person collaboration, or offices!

Not sure if you're being dismissive, but that still sounds great. It would lead to many small, livable communities with opportunity dotting the country. As opposed to everyone living in suburbs and and making long commutes to a small number of massive urban centers.

That’s basically the model IBM was actively pursuing in the 90s-00s (no idea whether they still do). They ran a bunch of studies in the previous decades, showing the various trade-offs involved into office locations; eventually they decided the best overall policy was to prefer mid-size offices in suburban settings, away from business districts and other high-density areas. At one point I think they had an outright ban on new city-centre offices.

(Or at least this is what I was told when I was a contractor for them in the mid-00s in Europe, wondering why they avoided getting a single building in Manchester city centre and spread over two separate locations in the surrounding suburbs instead.)

HQ is in Armonk which is Westchester County. Somers (since sold) and Poughkeepsie are there as well as is IBM Research at Yoktown Heights. Raleigh is in an industrial park (RTP). I'm by no means familiar with all of IBM's locations but, yes, many of them are suburban. IBM also sold their building in Manhattan in the 90s though they may still have some space there; they did when I last visited but that was quite a while ago. Most of the IBM people I work with work remotely.

I’m not sure RTP qualifies as “an industrial park” but suburban, sure

You ever try living in SF? You seem to have described it in a sense.

Also see this great South Park clip for an analogy: https://youtu.be/a3ezyTXFgYM

I don't follow. What part of my post described SF, and what is the analogy with that South park clip?

What I said was that if small communities spring up around places where remote workers converge, that is a good thing. It doesn't defeat the purpose of remote work.

I might have misinterpreted your comment, however I’m poking fun at the cyclical nature of change.

The fact that people want to go remote and distributed and then maybe start up these things called ‘offices’ is analogous to quasi anarchist hippies at festivals that want to move off the grid and let a new society flourish organically. Ultimately we end up in the same place.

Key difference is that in this model offices are built around the community, not the corporation. Seems likely to lead to very different results.

Self-chosen hubs for work are dramatically better for the individual than a company office though. They're not the same thing.


- Employee picks the location, so it's likely far more convenient for them

- Because employee has freedom to pick their work location, they have far more freedom to pick where they live

- Because employees have freedom to pick their work locations, all of a sudden "work location" is a competitive market, everywhere, and multiple options appear vying to fulfil different preferences (how quiet should they be? are pets allowed? do you want sharp & suited & professional, or lively with events every night, or chilled and friendly, or...?)

- Employee doesn't need to change their commute or desk or _anything_ when they change jobs

- 'Office' social life independent of your colleagues: you meet a wider range of people, and you separate work relationships from those friendships

- Less presenteeism, because it's harder for people to tell when you're present (not impossible, but it pushes in the right direction)

this is the wework model. Instead of the companies running the offices, the companies pay the workers to use 3rd party offices.

It’s the AWS model applied to real estate: move that $$$ from CapEx to OpEx, woot!

Office leases were always OpEx mang

You're right, I was thinking Old Businesses who actually bought their real estate (long-term thinking, such madness!)

As it so happens, in the long term they were all dead.

Or coffee shops.

How do you get supplies to the houses? Presumably you aren't going to want delivery vans driving over the nice grass.

Pneumatic tubes (not sarcastic)? What about when someone needs a new mattress?

You'd be surprised what you can accomplish with a cargo bike.

Fair. And I think that would work for the day to day stuff. You would probably still need a central depot (basically a wal-mart) to get things in to town efficiently. It would probably need a road, but we could limit things fairly well.

But that's why I brought up mattresses.

Another perk of remote worker villages is their potential for upsetting gerrymandered districts in the US.

Sounds like a retirement village!

Sounds like Geocities!

(Ex-Quora here) This is great to see. I left Quora over a year and a half ago, and at the time, the company believed pretty strongly in an in-person culture (in particular, having one office)—even though a bunch of employees and managers were pushing for more flexible work/location policies. I know the company had started experimenting with a little remote work pre-Covid, but it really took a forcing function to demonstrate to everyone that remote can work.

Their careers web page is already updated to reflect this. They also state remote employees need to be available 9am to 3pm PST and they will be keeping their SV office open:


They are also hiring a Head of Remote role to manage all of this:


Blows my mind becuase I do not understand how Quora is still around or even generating revenue at all.

My first thought when I saw the headline was this is really just about self-preservation and runway extension. Most companies who pivot to a remote first approach are not going to be doing it for altruistic reasons - like being good for their employee health - they're gonna do it merely because it saves money.


Maybe 1 in 3 of the answers you see are just paid ads. They read like utterly normal answers, but work in a reference for why X is the best product to item #4 on their top 5 travel hacks list.

I too am surprised to learn Quora still exists "actively" and is even hiring! They almost never come up on any web search, where is their traffic coming from? A little mystery here.

I predict many companies will have to follow the trend.

Remote companies have a significant hiring advantage. As long as the number of remote options was small, competing on talent with remote companies wasn't an issue. But things are clearly changing and non-remote companies will soon feel the pressure and unless they can pay significantly above market (like FAANG companies) they will have no choice but to allow fully remote work so they can compete.

Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft will probably not move to fully remote anytime soon (they all have amazing and very expensive campuses and some business lines that cannot move remote). However, they can pay above market rate and have offices in so many places so in a way they are already hybrid. Not to mention, like all of tech, they are much more flexible about WFH than used to be and I know a few people there who have been fully remote even before covid.

At DrSmile we are switching to hybrid model now with German employees still being able to visit the office, but shifting hiring focus to remote work on engineering positions and designing special benefit and retention package for them. It worked so well during corona, that it doesn’t make sense to pay office expenses for the growing team.

Has anyone tried using VR for work? What, if anything did you discover that worked, and what didn't?

I know of some VR companies that do all their meetings in VR, whether its their own, or in a game.

No experience using it for work.

But I bought a Quest when it first came out, and used it for about a week before shelving it.

Wearing it for longer than 10-15 minutes is physically difficult. Dizziness, nausea, headache.

This is a common issue people have with VR. Also unsure if it’s a fixable problem. Until then, I cant imagine it seriously used to facilitate remote work.

While some people will never be able to handle VR, the choice of equipment can have a massive impact on the comfort of the user. One of the worries repeatedly expressed by people on subreddits such a /r/vive|valveindex is that companies releasing cheaper, less capable headsets "poisons the well" by convincing people that VR just doesn't work well, or makes them sick etc. Believe it or not, some people claimed VR was dead in the water and a gimmick after trying the Google cardboard.

In the case of the Quest, it has several issues:

1. Hand tracking - using cameras on the headset means it's easy to occlude your hands leading to un-tracked areas

2. Compute Power - You need a really powerful GPU to get the most out of even relatively complex scenes. I have a GTX 1080ti and will probably upgrade to a 3080ti when these are released later this year. It's not overkill. The Quest was at first standalone. Unless you're strapping a large power supply and a GPU to your head you're not getting the power you really need.

2. It operates at 72 Hz - Research that companies like Valve have done (they've been working on this stuff a lot) has shown that refresh rates are a huge component in the sense of realism felt, and importantly sickness. The Oculus DK2 was 75Hz (ISTR). The Vive was 90Hz because it turns out people het less sick at 90. The Index is 120Hz with an experimental 144Hz mode, because the higher you push it the less people get sick, and at the very high resolutions people feel more "attachment" to the scenes they see. 72Hz is woeful.

3. Head tracking - The inside-out tracking method the Quest uses is (anecdotally, from user reports over time on reddit) inferior to the lighthouse style outside-in tracking of the Index. Knowing where your head is is very important to not making people feel ill, so better tracking here is critical.

Points 2-3 there are critical for your comfort, and the Quest just doesn't do VR justice. Sure, some people handle it fine, and the "real" equipment (and Index and a PC powerful enough to drive it) are substantially more expensive, but it would be unfair to bucket all VR after an experience with only the Quest.

While Valve Index is clearly superior I don't think you should dismiss the Quest. Not a single person I've shown it have thought it was a bad experience. On the contrary they finally "get" VR after it and many bought one immediately after so I truly believe the Valve Index community is wrong here lumping Quest together with subpar experiences such as Cardboard.

Don't get me wrong, Quest is suited for completely different games than Index but for titles like Beat Saber and Superhot it's the perfect hardware and they are also the kind of games that will bring VR to the masses. Also of course the fact that you can just put it on and start playing without any setup whatsoever.

Subjectively I disagree with "Hand tracking" and "Head tracking" (you have duplicate bullet points for 2). I haven't noticed inside-out tracking being inferior at all when comparing. It works much better than I ever would have expected.

I also think talking about feeling ill being something common is doing VR a disservice. It used to be a common problem most people experienced but not anymore. I'm not saying people can't get ill or feel dizzy nowadays but the problem is not in the same ballpark as before. However, if people do experience the same even on the Quest they should definitely try the Valve Index before dismissing VR completely.

I'm planning on getting a Valve Index myself soon so I'm not a fanboy.

From what I've heard, having a consistent high framerate helps with this a lot. I've seen people who report feeling sick with older generation of headsets, but feeling comfortable with the Valve Index.

The quest is ~72Hz. We (the VR community) moved on from 75 Hz many years ago through 90Hz, and my Index currently does 120, with an experimental 144Hz mode.

Research (mostly by Valve I think) has shown that the higher the framerate the less the incidence of sickness. 72Hz just isn't enough.

The same applies for Oculus Quest. Most of my friends have an Oculus Quest and I read the Quest subreddit a lot. This is the first time I've ever heard anyone experiencing those problems on it, while it was very common on older headsets.

It used to be common but the problems causing it for most users were fixed and are not present in Oculus Quest. I don't doubt there are still people experiencing it but saying it's common is not correct.

Regarding 10-15 minutes max I use mine for 1-2 hours at a time on most days and only stop because I get physically exhausted playing Beat Saber.

Why would anyone do that? What's the point?

If you're not a perfect touch typist then it's difficult to take notes or edit a shared document while wearing a VR headset.

I think if you tried it for a couple of weeks you'd probably become a perfect touch typist. It's not a difficult skill to pick up. Being in VR all the time would kind of suck though IMHO.

It's probably doable these days (Pixel Density) but what's the point.

The most productive way to use VR in such a context (remote work I assume) would be to work normally for a bit, thrash around in beat saber for 30 minutes to burn some calories (Mind and Body etc.) have lunch and get back to work.

What an awful idea; people go to work for the social connection. This feels like another episode of ‘Silicon Valley reinvents management,’ and will likely end in the same way.

I have ~5-6 years of remote work experience, started off as the only remote employee of a company, then was partially remote at my next company, then worked from an office for a local startup, and have been working for a fully distributed company for the past 4 years.

While my 2 years working at a startup in my mid-20s where we would sleep at the office and worked 24/7 did end up producing some of my closest friendships and a relationship with the company and the CEO that is strong to this day, my last few years working at a fully distributed company has also been really social.

We build friendships, we gossip, we argue, we share interesting tidbits about our lives - I don't feel like the social component is lost. It is usually not as strong as when you have to see the other person every day but it is more than enough for most purposes.

Our company also does meetups 3-4 times a year where we all fly to locations like Bali, Mexico, Iceland, US..etc. and spend a week socializing and working together. Remote work does not mean that you are basically a freelancer contracting for a company, there are ways to build strong enough social connections.

> What an awful idea; people go to work for the social connection.

Heh, I disagree. I work remote and I go to work to do work and get a paycheck. The office has only helped to whiteboard or do some interviews, but other than that I avoid it

This is not true of everyone.

An interesting sea change in knowledge work is happening.

Does anyone know if any other companies have made a permanent switch to remote like this during the pandemic?

Quora is a pretty small company, and the sum total of all startups (not including FAANGs) all going remote will be a small fraction of the population of workers. I guess that’s why you specified knowledge workers.

I dunno. Here’s why I think it will and will not happen.

My company has been up to 50% remote in the past six years (way earlier when we were smaller) and have gone fully remote since shelter-in-place.

We have a really well established remote culture, so it was pretty easy. We’ve had people join in remote roles who found that they were not able to work well in that way.

I think it takes a confluence of the company culture, the individual, and the management’s willingness to do new and different work to accommodate a remote work culture.

This will not be broad, and some who try it will fail miserably, others will discover new inefficiencies and problems they’ll sink a lot of time into trying to solve.

A bulk of the population will go back to their normal day-to-day, and as long as the rest of the world isn’t adjusting, I think it’s unlikely for such a dramatically different work style to take hold outside of a few niche areas.

I would love to be proven wrong though, as I really dislike living in the Bay Area, and I’ve become a lot more comfortable working and managing fully remotely over the past four months.

Related: My company is fully remote until 2021 - and we’re actively considering what to do after that. I am pretty convinced I will be moving forward with assuming my own team will be fully remote (support and services) if they want to, and I plan to only visit the office for important company/management meetings, but we’ll see what happens after the economy crashes completely.

Definitely an increase in percentage of remote positions in the June who’s hiring thread. Around 50% I think

Even the Indian software service companies are going remote which suggests remote work is going to be future https://www.news18.com/news/business/tcs-says-75-of-its-3-5-...

Tracker for all companies remote work policies: remote.lifeshack.io

With so many companies going WFH permanently even after COVID, how will this impact Uber/Lyft revenue?

Positively, perhaps. If you don't need a car to commute, you're more likely not to own one and use ridesharing when you do need to go somewhere by car.

Most people don't use Uber/Lyft for their daily commute (yes, no doubt some on HN do). It can't make economic sense compared to driving yourself.

a ton of people I know who live in metro cities (sf, nyc, chicago, etc) used rideshare daily for commute, it's slightly more expensive than public transit and many employers either pay for or subsidize for it.

just re: your last statement, it could make sense if parking costs are high enough. but otherwise, good points

I think they will do just fine. Uber has Eats which many people who WFH use. Also, remote companies mean lots of travel as employees need to meet in person at least twice a year. Uber and Lyft benefit greatly from business travel.

Uber Eats is a dumpster fire burning cash, so I don’t think it helps Uber’s bottom line very much to increase that side of their business.

Why do HN cares so much about uber and lyft?

Is it just me or does Quora straight up not work on Firefox? Whenever I click the Continue Reading button, it fails to load more and gives me a generic "Something Went Wrong" error. Do people just not test on Firefox anymore?

I had this and solved it by clearing the cache and cookies for Quora (and maybe facebook) several times. If it works in private browser mode it's definitely corrupt data.

Did you know that Quora PAYS for most of the questions people ask on Quora?

Like, there are people making a full time living asking questions on Quora.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/AMA/comments/alc5hy/i_am_a_quora_pa...

Yes, this is how I have a huge number of people blocked and muted for asking stupid questions by the thousands. They used to offer something to top writers, but no longer; the last one was a subscription to NY Times.

But not many really make a living by asking questions, I don't think the pay is good enough.

Quora is not user friendly. Asking me to login every time to read some answers to marginally interesting questions is not a value proposition to me.

for me it goes even beyond. expects me to download app or doesnt allow me to read. Its crazy. I stopped going there. Reddit has better answers anyway

“Growth hacking” / getting investor money

Is that bad?

Yeah, it's pretty bad. Questions that they pay for are generally of poor quality. When you pay for something, people rush in to produce as much quantity as they can. Even if they are also attracting good ones, they can be hard to find in the onslaught.

My intuitive understanding of Quora, formed about five years ago, is that it’s a WikiHow with VC mojo.

It's most accurately described as a yahoo answers with generally higher quality answers and SEO.

“Higher quality than Yahoo answers” is an extremely low bar.

There is a lot of genuinely good content on Quora. They went out of their way early to attract some high-level Silicon Valley talent, and that brought in a fair number of good writers. It was really cool, for example, to have physics professors explaining the Higgs Boson at the time of the CERN announcement.

It degrades over time, partly from simple reversion to the mean, partly because a number of topics have simply been talked to death. That's why they started paying people to ask questions. There's still good new content in a lot of areas, such as history and language, that are very broad and deep. But topics like physics and mathematics are largely moribund, because there's only so much that can be talked about at the roughly high-school level that most people can follow.

So it does look increasingly like Yahoo Answers, but there's still good content if you know where to look. It earned a very good reputation early and that high rep still has some carryover.

What's the word for that? Astroturfing?

When a company needs to generate fake content pretending to be real questions from real users.

Would you spend an hour writing a really thorough answer to a question if the person who asked the question got paid to ask it, and never reads any of the responses?

It's fake.

How many employees are left at Quora?

Silicon Valley real estate crash when?

As soon as protesters start to create an Autonomous Zone in the middle of each city and town.

On somewhat related note, I've always wondered how come links from the Quora digest email just have the URL "quara.com" with no direct link to the question/answer?

I get that it links to a SPA. But this seems intentional.

Is this that site that's always wanting my PI to sell off? Whenever I mistakenly click a link to it to see the whole answer? Maybe this will be the death knell.

Well, good for them. I hope they'll hire more moderators now. Their auto-moderation sucks. It lets spam run free and punished people who give actual answers.

> All existing employees can immediately relocate to anywhere we can legally employ them

Even to India? What about time zone differences, and will you pay the same amount as in USD?

They'd pay the local salary of course - this move to remote is a hr/accountings wet dream to reduce to amount spent on pay.

I wonder if there is a way of projecting this as discrimination (e.g. accusing the company to be a racist, because you pay less to your Indian/Non U.S. employees) and get activists attention.

Its paid by location.

Having said that if you audited any of the FANGS US employees you would find discrimination on grounds of Sex, Disability and Race (and I suspect Caste )

Would it be harder or easier to unionise or make employee actions if the workforce is all online, compared to meeting in the same place?

That rather depends on which country one is in. In most European countries it will make no difference at all as far as the law is concerned (everyone has the right to belong to a union), in the US I imagine it will be complicated and vary from state to state.

Reminder that quora was part of a huge data breach, yet they still, to this day, employ dark patterns that force you to make an account.

Angelo says "I will not work out of the office and I will visit the office no more than once a month.", isn't the opposiite of each other?

It really is amazing that Quora still exists. In the very early days it was interesting, now it just seems like Yahoo Answers 2.0.

I'm not particularly prophetic when it comes to how businesses play out, but I remember thinking that quora was a cool idea on a small scale but knew that it would turn to garbage as soon as it got popular.

For the entrepreneurs out there: Everything doesn't have to be social. Sometimes you can build a business around great, curated content and it can be beautiful.

> For the entrepreneurs out there: Everything doesn't have to be social. Sometimes you can build a business around great, curated content and it can be beautiful.

Examples? I can't actually think of a curated content business that has no social features. Social is textual gold. People love interacting with other people.

Certainly not an information content business. Perhaps curated physical products.

Quartz.com, Wired.com, NYTimes.com, (although it seems that nytimes does allow comments on some articles).

Yeah, seems like now half the questions on there are someone pushing some random agenda with "Why is [statement that isn't true]?"

I can't believe this site still exists, who goes there?

I actually have enjoyed a lot of the content there - it’s like Q&A with an emphasis on the personal experience of the person answering. Tons of stuff that would not be appropriate for Stack Overflow, but interesting nonetheless.

To me Q&A is not the interesting part; discussion, rhetoric, and bigger context behind questions are. That's why I always found niche subreddits or niche StackExchange websites a lot more interesting than Quora. I don't remember finding interesting content on Quora on something that's not already on reddit or stackExchange. The only time Quora shines is when some celebrity makes an interesting, historical comment. Like when Alan Kay himself defines OOP, it's clearly some interesting shit. But reddit AMAs and StackExchange celebrity accounts do scratch that itch as well. So, Quora is pretty meh imho. I still read it (without an account) but I don't find it irreplaceable unlike the other two.

Why does it surprise you (and the many dismissive commenters in this thread)? The way I personally get the most value out of it is by asking questions from people who are active and have clear expertise. Some examples are questions about the Swift compiler and standard library from people who worked on it, or from Alan Kay about the history of computing.

Most of my interaction is from seeing it in a web search, clicking on it and seeing an objectively incorrect answer.

The following is slightly off topic and very subjective. I remember Quora when it first launched. So many interesting answers from people that „have been there, done that“. Like first hand experience from working on IE5 in the browser wars or working at Nasa.

Quality was very high in general. Today it has become a shadow of itself with generic questions and answer that are just marketing plugs.

It makes me a bit sad because it was unique and there still is nothing like it in my opinion.

Reddit (so long as you subscribe to good quality sub reddits) is my go to for long form information. Quora is garbage now unfortunately - I don't know how but they completely lost their way.

Agreed, really like Reddit. Only issue is their obnoxious push to use the app all the time. I wish Reddit and Wikipedia had a child.

Awesome place to work for!

Actually it is a miracle they still exist, their revenue is not so good.

citation needed?

It is almost impossible to find clear data, but in 2017 they were still raising funding and in 2018 they closed the Top Write program, the one that was giving minor benefits. Since then, there is no reason to believe their revenue grew significantly, while the quality of new content is horrible. I followed the situation for the past ~ 4 years, this is what it looks like.

I hate when Quora pops up from searching for something. I loathe Quora and wish they never existed. They make searching for things a lot more annoying.

Many have made this observation, but I wish there was a way to blacklist sites from my search results.

I literally never want to see results from Quora, ExpertsExchange and a bunch of other grotty spam dens with low quality user generated content.

I don't get why Google is not doing this. If I could block these sites, I'd get much more value out of Google, and it would be sticky value - because over the years I would have added hundreds of sites to that list, and I wouldn't want to transfer that over to some other search engine.

Some nice extras would include:

- blocking sites for e.g. 12 months only

- sharing black lists

- being able to search without the blacklist applying

Same deal with pintrest too, it spammed Google Image results so badly and there was no way to actually get to the source of the image without signing up for an account at one point.

Think they might have taken action because it's not been as bad lately and the results haven't been as spammed but it rendered image search close to unusable for almost a year.

Really think Google should invest more in being able to trace data back to it's source. Pintrest is all just data scraped from elsewhere, point me to where it's scraping from now the 400px wide image from Pintrests cache.

There's plenty of browser extensions and user scripts that will do this.

Reminder to those who aren’t aware: Quora is a rich man’s hobby business. You aren’t going to get practical knowledge from their decisions.

Why has it become such an SEO driven BS filled website if the owner doesn't care about the financials? Why can't he pay people to curate the answers and generally drive up the quality?

They have to at least pretend it is a real business.

It was kind of interesting at first when the answers were good and there were some "celeb" participants.

But seems pretty stale now with lots of lead gen answers.

They claim huge traffic numbers which could be possible given the pretty good Google placements.

I don't really get it.

Can we go ahead and coin this the as 'The Yahoo Answers Effect' because it seems they are following in the exact same fashion. High quality question and answers, that slowly (and rapidly) devolves into SEO spam and useless commentary.

You can't throw out a comment like that and give no follow up. In what way is it a hobby business?

I’m guessing they’re referring to the fact that the CEO is very wealthy [1] and has self-funded the company, and suggesting that he’s not as concerned with the financials.

1: https://www.forbes.com/profile/adam-dangelo/#657861427cb4

It's not self-funded by D'Angelo. Quora has raised several hundred million dollars, the overwhelming share of that from traditional venture capital firms.

They also don't have the luxury of treating it like a hobby business, which is why they've been focused on quantity over quality for years now. They have to scale up the concept massively or find another business.

In contrast WikiHow is an example of a successful knowledge service that is operated with more of a focus on quality and less on quantity. They're not owned by venture capital firms and don't have to seek an exit or try to force growth at any cost. It's a route Quora could have taken if it weren't for the VC firms, now they have no choice. Their former competitor, eHow, took the paid spam content route and got destroyed for it.

> Quora Raises $50M At $400M From Peter Thiel, D’Angelo Puts In $20M Of His Own Money [0]

[0] https://techcrunch.com/2012/05/14/quora-raises-50-at-400m-fr...

Wikihow is garbage though. How can you seriously claim it's focused on quality? What is this shit: https://www.wikihow.com/images/thumb/f/f5/Laugh-Step-6-Versi... ?

Why link to the image out of context? https://www.wikihow.com/Laugh

The context doesn't help.

How is it any different from Stack Overflow or Yahoo Answers, except generalized and civilized?

About half the answers devolve into a sales pitch after a lengthy and confusing intro that seems to be written for SEO purposes only. The answers tend to be of substantially lower quality than what you'd see on SO too.

Yahoo Answers might be similar, sure, but that's not a positive comparison.

Inevitable when you try to turn something small and good into a “venture scale business”.

There are two criticisms here: one is that Quora is a bad business, and only operates because its CEO funds it, and second is that it is a bad source of information. The first is definitely an unanswered question at this point: revenue is low but the site has a vast amount of evergreen content which ranks highly on Google -- they have a ton of traffic but it's not clear to what extent they can monetize it.

The second is a matter of opinion, and whether you're looking at the average content or the best content. There is great content on Quora but the average question/answer is of course absolute dogshit.

so, like every VC startup

I made an honest effort to read that and I just couldn't.

I actually can't imagine any kind of reading medium that's worse. There's chunks of text interlaced with a bunch of visual noise, random images, links to separate threads which are huge images and bigger than the surrounding text.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23647028.

I really, truly wish HN would moderate and remove comments about a link's medium. Every single post here has at least one person complaining about the layout of the source. Every time. It's exhausting. I hate it. It contributes absolutely nothing, and I don't know if anyone's noticed, but people keep using Twitter! Gasp! If you hate Twitter so much, reach out to the tweet author and ask them to publish elsewhere. If you hate Medium, e-mail the author and ask them to switch platforms. But dear God, can we please stop complaining about it in HN comments? Either read it or don't.

Please just stop.

Then let me add that this is a particularly bad case.

I know there's a user called foone that has gotten posted to HN enough times that they explained why they use twitter to make posts instead of writing a blog (they have adhd, and they find it easier to write on twitter). Which is reasonable since there's an empathical justification. And I've read other twitter threads in the past, which were fine.

Usually, people just write out a paragraph but broken over multiple tweets. This is the first time that I've seen someone try and link other videos/posts/images which is somehow so much worse.

It's a valid point of discussion. What isn't is you actually complaining. You could take your own advice and write to Dang about the moderation?

You literally just repeated his own point, but about his comment.

If only nobody would write comments on HN we wouldn’t have this problem!

How on earth can this individual’s speech vex you to such an extent that you need it silenced?

It adds 0 to the conversation. It is very weird, almost borderline autistic behaviour...

90% of links, have some kind of: "doesn't work on my mobile... format sucks, i don't like the colors, etc... etc.." comment.

It is pure infantile/juvenile bikesheding and distracting from the point of the conversation/link that has nothing to do with formatting.

We could consider adding a guideline asking people not to post such things. The problem is that sometimes such comments are helpful for the owner of a site, who either shared their own work or happened to be on here when someone else did.

My guess is that's pretty unusual, and that if you looked at a sample of, like, 20 of them, in at least 19 cases whatever was being complained about would remain the case on the website in question, indicating that the site owner did not get value from them. Meanwhile: those comments really are a pox on the threads; it'd be better if users were in the habit of downvoting them to keep the top of the thread clear, which a guideline would accomplish.

Care to suggest a wording for it?

Discuss substance, not presentation, unless presentation is the topic of the story. Comments about web design and readability are off-topic. Advice for authors is best delivered through a polite private email.

Just to calibrate: would you say "this site breaks the back button fuck I fucking hate that" should be under this umbrella?

Extremely yes. Sites that break the back button aren't going to stop doing that because HN complains about it, right?

Ok, I added it. A brand new guideline is a rarity. We should have a ceremony.

I worded it more concretely: "Please don't complain about website formatting, back-button breakage, and similar annoyances [etc]" I find that giving concrete examples and inviting the mind to generalize them works better than giving an abstract rule and inviting the mind to instantiate it. I learned this trick from spreadsheet development.

I was about to complain bitterly that the guidelines are now too long and there isn't a single one that can be taken out...but then I saw one that could be taken out, and I took it out. That was "Please submit the canonical URL. Avoid link shorteners." It's covered by "Please submit the original source." We added it a few years ago to try to convey that link shorteners are banned on HN, but it can be pushed out of the constitution and down into case law. It's the ones that aren't derivable from other guidelines that are hard to remove.

The list still feels too long to me. The longer it gets, the less people will take in, and I really want to avoid the mistake of accruing a big list of rules over time. They've grown like tree rings (and about as slowly) as we've learned about what feedback helps regulate the system. But the longer the list becomes, the more it starts to feel like a bureaucratic artifact rather than, let's say, a philosophical one, and that is out of sync with the intended spirit. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que...


Devil's advocating here, because I agree more with your sentiment:

That comment has sparked a larger subthread specifically about Twitter as a medium, rather than the content of the post. This specific subthread is so popular, it's near the top of the page every time I refresh this post. So we could say it stifles discussion, also because people are prone to voting up a comment like that despite the fact that it's not really relevant to the post.

And that's why the [-] button is so awesome.

Squeaky wheels get the oil. Sorry dude...

Twitter is awful for conveying longer text. Here's an unroll of it: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1264341436138270720.html

The key text is: @threadreaderapp unroll

If you reply to a Tweet thread with that, it'll unroll it and create a link like that.

You can also just go to the threadreaperapp website and paste in the tweet url.

Amen. Not to mention the non sequitur replies from randos trying to insert themselves, grasping for fifteen milliseconds of microcelebrity.

I recently read HG Wells’s Island of Dr Moreau; the protagonist describes one of Moreau’s creatures, who specialized in Big Think: big-worded, incoherent rambling intended to confuse and impress in equal parts. The argot of Twitter, in other words.

Mmm Quora was a promising platform, now is just Yahoo Answers 2.0 with ML

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