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Leaving Quora after 10 years of answering questions (thoughtstorms.info)
186 points by aarondf on Dec 13, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 130 comments

Leaving Quora was also one of my own better moves. Like the OP, I had also been a Top Writer a couple of times. I had many of my own fans, some of whom still follow me on Twitter seven years later. I even have the fleece. But I got sick of features coming and going, staff jerking people around, and particularly the incessant promotion of flippant intelligence-free non-answers over well thought out real answers for the sake of engagement. Many of those answers clearly violated the site's stated rules (e.g. excessive use of irrelevant images) and got shown first contrary to user upvotes which I consider dishonest and unfair to people who actually try to contribute positively. So I just up and quit. Loudly. Even as a non-user, their cozy relationship with Google to boost their search rankings pisses me off. Everyone should quit Quora.

"Engagement-driven" product development is a very poor choice. You might be optimising for the short-term and your personal product manager performance review. But other than that it will slowly kill your product.

Reddit has been "slowly killing" their product for a long time now, and it's bigger than ever. Problem is this stuff actually does work if you want to mass market.

You're right, they're bigger then ever before.

The relevant question for me is: how much bigger would Reddit be today without their shitty approach?

I never turned into an active user - mostly because I'm appalled by things like: being forced into their mobile app, for example. I just use reddit to read stuff and then leave. On HN I contribute a lot.

I wonder about that. I'm not on reddit anymore, nor is anybody I know.

Niche subreddits are still decent but the community as a whole is a cesspool.

The mistake was bringing internet to the masses, as opposed to keeping it difficult enough to be used only by passionate and/or smart people. Now that the cat is out of the bag maybe paid memberships to exclusive communities is the way to go?

Just late night riffing here after a few drinks and, might be wrong about all of the above.

You're being downvoted for "gatekeeping" but you're not wrong.

NSF has the L2 paid membership section, which is the absolute best place for information in the field - both public and insider information. Likewise airliners.net has (or had) an excellent paid option, and I can think of a few others.

Requiring payment is still a good way to let those passionate about a topic self-admit themselves while keeping the masses at bay.

I think the problem is the scaling of communication, rather than letting in the unwashed masses. In any community experiencing continuous growth, there will be a constant influx of people unaware of the social norms and conventions. Most of these "normies" are just regular people, that if they stuck around, you'd realize they were no different than the regulars.

If this is a one-thing event, the community usually stabilizes, but the problem with reddit is that the central premise seems to have become growth, so there's always a bunch of new faces, which makes maintaining an actual community nearly impossible. Only exceptions seem to be communities where the topic is extremely esoteric, or the moderators are super aggressive.

I agree. Any community can only scale at a certain rate and maintain its culture. Scaling too fast leads to the infuxed culture dominating.

We see the same issues with immigration as well, see for example how many European cities are struggling with the prevalence of Arab culture and Muslim customs. They welcome the immigrants (the people), but do not welcome the changes to the culture of their cities.

They could have left that part about intelligence out.

I'm extremely intelligent, probably in the top 0.01% of the world. I welcome the less intelligent into my world. I believe in democracy.

I suppose that you could invite quite a lot of people less intelligent than yourself into your world, and still be surrounded by brilliant people.

For some of us, inviting people less intelligent than ourselves into our world carries significant risk of being surrounded by idiots. ))

After a few drinks I'd expect you to say something more controversial, like it failed because it took sides in the culture war.

Bringing discussion to the masses is actually a known problem, and something reddit managed to solve with subreddits. Quite a few others before it fell due to this issue, notably slashdot and digg.

> After a few drinks I'd expect you to say something more controversial

The user name "spurgu" is a Finnish word for "drunk" / "bum". (At a guess, the GP is humourously exaggerating their drinking habits.)

> After a few drinks I'd expect you to say something more controversial, like it failed because it took sides in the culture war.

Haha that's what would happen later on in the discussion.

There's always 4chan if you want to feel exclusivity.

Left it when Reddit had better quality. Back to 4chan for higher quality discussion, shame it’s been poisoned by trump tourists

If you've been there 5 years I'm not sure you're a tourist anymore. And 4chan has been complaining about being ruined by tourists since project chanology anyway

They leak into other boards, like sci+math instead of staying on pol

I will leave Reddit in a week or so. I’m just waiting for this one potentially hilarious cat gif to load in the Reddit video player.

Is Reddit profitable yet?

Why do you think so? As long as you ignore the default subs, I felt fine.

It's fine as long as your sub doesn't blow up, then it turns to crap in a heartbeat.

I was a top writer too. The part where it completely went to hell for me was when they started recklessly combining all the questions. I had a lot of answers that were thoughtful or clever and specific to the actual wording of a question but quickly became part of an irrelevant mess.

Now it’s just a spam magnet and functionally useless. But it was not a single step into oblivion it was more like a series of bad decisions.

Still have the top writer fleece though somewhere.

Yeah, burying good painstakingly-written answers beneath crappy non-answers to different questions was not a good move in any dimension. You have my complete agreement and sympathy on that one. Personally it was the "must have a bio for each subject" thing, and the harassment from staff over it, but it could have been any of a hundred other things.

As an active StackExchange participant I've tried to get into Quora multiple times but the purposefully, grey-pattern-ridden UX is the real barier to entry. I still can't figure out how the darn thing works.

I occasionally find myself clicking on a Quora link Google search. When I did so yesterday, I found it hard to tell the difference between promoted questions/answers and answers to the actual question I was looking at. It’s like open a pack of hot dogs and trying to find an actual hot dog amongst a pack of assorted eraser colored, fleshy, slimy tubes with rounded ends.

Hahaha that is exactly it. Especially on mobile. My God.

I open a quora answer from Google. I start reading, then realize I'm reading an ad. I see a number badge on the Home button in the top nav menu. But I also see a Notification Bell button. Why are there notification badges anywhere but there?

I see a Globe button. I imagine it would send me to a search page or something? Or a map? Nope, it's a modal to change the language, but the only option is "English (current)". Hmm. Seems like a lot of ambiguity and real estate and code and clicking for nothing.

Ok, I try to reorient myself and find the heading related to my search. Oh cool, they have RSS feeds?! Oh wait, when I click the RSS icon it makes me follow... the question? The user who wrote the question?

On this same bar on the end is a an ellipsis menu. Holy crap. There's 10 options in there!

I scroll down to an answer. Finally! Wait, crap, I forgot what the exact question was. I have to scroll back to the top to see the question! But each answer's engagement options bar is sticky while I scroll past them... Why not make the question sticky?! And wait, what?? Did I upvote this answer previously?? Oh, no, the upvote icon has a color border as opposed to the grey downvote icon.

Ok, this answer's author claims to be the CEO of Quora. I check, and yep, I can add the same "credential" to my own profile. His profile picture on the answer has a checkmark. Does that mean he's verified? Or is this answer verified? Or is this the accepted answer?

My God this site is a piece of shit.

Also, 9 out of 10 it’s some very shitty answer written as if the author would have any reasonable knowledge on the topic.

A recent example, I was looking at Gluon Mobile, which can presumably compile to ios, but not much info is available on it. One “relevant” google search was a quora link for “is android slower than ios due to java”. I am unfortunately somewhat addicted to flame wars so I read some replies and.. the first one was someone going on an on about how OpenJDK can be quite fast, how there is benchmark game, etc etc, while failing to realize that android does not run OpenJDK, nor does it have a traditional java runtime.

This really makes my heart sink. It's not just that a top poster is leaving because they feel it hasn't been worth it in any real sense ("financial ... socially ... acclaim ... personal growth") but also because all that knowledge is now effectively behind a gate that will almost surely be lost within a couple decades.

The Quora terms of service forbid "automated tools" and have a system that provides at least some answers that explicitly forbid reproduction [0]. Contrast this with Stack Overflow, where a condition of posting your content is that you put it under a libre/free license (CC-BY-SA) [1].

The author spent ten years of their life creating quality content and now the most likely scenario is that it fades into obscurity without even the hope of it being reproduced or retained for someone in the future to benefit from it.

[0] https://www.quora.com/about/tos

[1] https://stackoverflow.com/legal/terms-of-service#licensing

How do we know it was quality content? This whole article confuses me. I’ve got nearly a thousand comments on this site. If I deleted all of them, no one would care and rightly so. I get that a Quora answer and HN comment are different, but my point is that he may be just some dude who likes to pontificate. Despite saying he wanted to grow out of his comfort zone, he’s back at the same thing, now pontificating on YouTube.

I don't know about the author, but Quora at least had a takeout feature when I left it.

In the article, the author mentioned that that feature didn't include contextual links (like what was the URL of the question), and all inside a huge HTML page.

Yeah it seems like a waste, although he said he combined all his answers into a book and said it wasn't good?

If the answers are good, then I feel like the e-book should be worthwhile. I'd be interested in seeing it, but he didn't link it? Why not?

Personally I've enjoyed several books that are just non-linear collections of essays or excerpts from other material. It's fun to flip through even if you read the whole thing.

I recall one prolific HN commenter did that (but I wasn't in the target audience so I can't judge either way)

I saw that they said they collected their Computer Science questions into a book (and "it was less than the sum of its parts") but maybe I missed that they collected all their answers?

It's good that the poster retains copyright and can do whatever they want with it but it's still not by default given to the community. Also, the answer sits in a certain context with the question, comments and other answers, which could give a lot of different perspectives on the same issue (as often happens for SO Q/As). Picking out only one answer will lose something and chasing down every participant in every question and answer to get them to consent to a libre/free license is untenable.

Sadly, HN has the same exact problem [0]. They provide their dataset in an easily downloadable fashion but the licensing terms are just as bad and so it's only a matter of time before this site and all of it's content slowly fade into irrelevance.

[0] https://www.ycombinator.com/legal/#tou

Quora is a cesspool of dark patterns nowadays and I avoid it or should I say it avoids me. It doesn't work without javascript at all, you can't even view any comments without an account, it's following the same pattern as LinkedIn, Facebook, even Twitter is moving in this direction. They've abused the goodwill of their legitimate content-creators to the point that most those still hanging around are trying to not-so-subtly peddle some product vaguely related to your question.

You need supply and demand in the content space. You can't put up walls like this and expect to just ride name-recognition, network effect and past success forever -- especially when your main offering is essentially just a glorified Yahoo Answers.

Unless you're a Google property where this level of scumminess is countered with at least a Newtonian level of practical convenience, you can't pull this crap. Quora is finding this out, Medium and maybe someday Youtube if Google keeps putting an ad on everything that moves.

Recently I was looking for directions on how to reset an instagram account without access to the email (there is a way to do that, using a device one was logged into).

I made the mistake of clicking on the quora result. The first 5 or so answers were all obfuscated ads for some bs 'hacking' service.

That is, they would start their answers with stretching, generic phrases and then include a whatsapp number and the hacking nonsense.

I'm going to ban Quora from my search results now.

Way too much ads/affiliate marketing.

> I will soon be gone from Quora.

Were people ever in Quora? Isn't it one more of those 'free' sites that exploit the free labor of random people to sell questionable content? I don't get how someone can get so attached to his own image that considers himself to be part of a company that he s clearly not a part of.

In the early days, Quora has exceptionally high quality content. I enjoyed the experts writing answers on Quora platform. It was not only just gaining some random knowledge, but it was also entertaining reading from them. I read pretty much every night before sleep during that time.

Then it gradually degrades (maybe the pressure of putting ads on to make money), the quality has gone downhill dramatically. It's been a few years, I have no longer considered answers from Quora as worthy.

Agree 100%. Quora in the very beginning was great. It gradually became less useful as they tried to monetize and prioritized engagement over everything else. It’s now something I actively avoid. I unsubscribed from their digest email a while back, it had devolved into clickbait - mostly thinly veiled prompts for salacious responses, most of which were Letters to Penthouse style fiction.

It’s something that had a lot of potential, but like so many other things it fell victim to the quest for profit and engagement.

People like helping people, it gives them a sense of self-worth. Answering questions also can make you feel smart. Now think about how many important websites are functionally built by free labor due to this: Wikipedia, Stack Overflow, subreddits you like, this site etc. It doesn't seem sustainable does it?

It’s not all altruism. Answering interesting questions is a fabulous way of improving your own knowledge of a particular topic. It’s not until you start to explain something to someone else that you realise all the gaps in your own understanding. Many times, I would see a Stack Exchange and think “that’s a quick and/or easy question to answer” – only to discover there are more subtleties and possible edge cases to consider once you really start thinking about it. Before you know it you’ve spent over an hour trying to answer the question as comprehensively as possible.

> Answering questions also can make you feel smart.

Not so much. Though, when I read answers that I wrote years ago, I think my past self was a lot smarter than my present self.

I’d also view Wikipedia and Stack Exchange with their GFDL and Creative Commons licenses as being the textual equivalents of the FOSS world. Both are projects that I’ve benefited a lot from so it’s nice to be able to give something back.

> Though, when I read answers that I wrote years ago, I think my past self was a lot smarter than my present self.

I was trawling back through my Stack Overflow answers which go all the way back to the closed beta. Some of them I looked at and thought "am I getting old or stupid, past me seems super decent at this stuff". I wondered if it was just me but it's a relief to know someone else has these feelings.

How not? I think the desire to share expertise is inexhaustible in some people. God bless them for that!

It's been a long time since I went to Quora but they used to have some really high quality answers from real experts. Quality was always a little hit and miss but the good answers were really good.

What killed Quora for me was their push towards canonical question/answers, not allowing for any context to a question, ridding it of a lot of the nuance that made many discussions actually interesting. Now there seems to be just more and more rehashing of the same questions that have already been beaten to death waiting to get merged together.

I was somewhat active for a while writing answers, but every time I wanted to ask a question the algorithm "forced" me to generalize it more and more to the point where I'm no longer interested in the answer. And I also felt the same with the questions Quora wanted me to answer.

> What killed Quora for me was their push towards canonical question/answers, not allowing for any context to a question, ridding it of a lot of the nuance that made many discussions actually interesting

I've stopped using Quora because of that move, too. I remember it was actually done in two parts - first they limited the context (to something like 300 characters, I think), then entirely removed it. Sigh.

The new anti-feature of blending different questions/answer is... one of the worst functionalities I've ever experienced. I guess they're trying to focus on the addict/timewasting audience at the expense of the more balanced one.

It basically was the anti-Yahoo Answers. Over time, it became just like Yahoo Answers.

There should probably be a Zawinski-like law for this. "Over time, all question-and-answers sites attempt to expand until they become Yahoo Answers."

It still has quality content. You just have to pay attention to interact only with the type of content you want. Otherwise social network algo kicks in and starts spamming your feed with 'undesirable' content you interacted with. My feed is so full with stuff that I have real interest in that I avoid visiting the main feed to avoid getting stuck reading stuff.

>Were people ever in Quora?

It briefly had hn like quality to it.

Then they got acquired (I think) stuck a login wall in front of it and the spark died.

The login wall probably marginally increased whatever signup metrics they were tracking and some middle manager at Quora probably patted themselves on the head for a job well done for that genius idea, but it killed my interest in Quora too. I can't be bothered to try and login every single time and I just started purposefully avoiding Quora links going forward once that was implemented. And it's a shame because the content is pretty great and a site geared around answering questions could be the most amazing source of human knowledge out there. But it doesn't work if you purposely try and restrict the content.

seconded, every point.

In as much as quora connected you with other real people, of course it was worthwhile.

The problem was that quora paid people to flood the site with "quality" questions they didn't really care about the answer to. So the other people were often an illusion.

It’s a game, winning feels good. They also do pay top contributors.

300 million monthly users as of this point in time. Were you living under a rock.

What’s crazy is that all that effort and skill can still be accumulated into something valuable.

Off the top of my head, they could start a YouTube channel dedicated to answering silly or crazy Quora questions/answers.

They could start a Substack accumulating the lessons they learned.

They could try developing a competitor to Quora (something very, very small for starters), since they’re familiar with the common issues the site has.

You can leverage a lot of that experience into something valuable that wasn’t immediately obvious in hindsight especially because it seems to come so effortlessly for this person. You just have to spend some time developing your business skills, knowing where to look for opportunities.

When I look back at some of the masters of their craft, it was always non-obvious connections. I’m not saying everything you do in life will be economically or even creatively valuable, but you’d be surprised at what you’d find with a little effort.

Even the art of researching and answering questions is in of itself a valuable skill that you can sell on Gumroad for $5.

Of course you’re free to move on to different project whenever you want but I figured this author should get some financial compensation for all the experience they accumulated.

That’s really the great thing about the Internet. Even the most niche fields can be valuable if you package it in the right way for others.

"Let me tell you what Quora really is: Quora is the plaything of a couple of toddler luck** who, not content with having somehow pocketed generational wealth by the age of 25, felt obliged to bestow upon us the be-all, end-all: the world’s “best source for knowledge.” I’m serious about that s** – it’s their actual tagline. Not the writings of Isaac Newton nor the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Not the dozens of pre-existing question-and-answer sites. Not Wikipedia – a publicly-curated, global encyclopedia containing more than 25 million articles on literally every subject known to man. Not even, f**, the very rise of the Internet itself – unarguably the greatest explosion of information delivery and content creation in history. No, these were but stepping stones for the unadulterated perfected brilliance that Charlie Cheever and Adam D'Angelo bequeathed in the form of Quora. Inimitable, quintessential Quora."


The original version without weird censorship that made the text really difficult to read:

“Let me tell you what Quora really is: Quora is the plaything of a couple of toddler lucktards who, not content with having somehow pocketed generational wealth by the age of 25, felt obliged to bestow upon us the be-all, end-all: the world’s “best source for knowledge.” I’m serious about that shit – it’s their actual tagline. Not the writings of Isaac Newton nor the notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci. Not the dozens of pre-existing question-and-answer sites. Not Wikipedia – a publicly-curated, global encyclopedia containing more than 25 million articles on literally every subject known to man. Not even, fuck, the very rise of the Internet itself – unarguably the greatest explosion of information delivery and content creation in history. No, these were but stepping stones for the unadulterated perfected brilliance that Charlie Cheever and Adam D'Angelo bequeathed in the form of Quora. Inimitable, quintessential Quora.”

It’s easy to guess what “f**k” means, but f** is just confusing. And how is anyone supposed to guess what “luck**” could mean?

"In 2000 Cheever was brought in front of Harvard’s Administrative Board for creating a database of the Harvard student body. The program enabled students to find which dorm their fellow classmates were living in. The database was quickly shut down by the Harvard administration"

Always a good rule of thumb: life advice from rich kids is worthless to everyone except other rich kids.

I agree with you, but the HN crowd is sometimes too prude and I was afraid of offending people’s sensibility

Thanks! We are all adults here, after all.

I think Quora was a neat idea, and if executed well, it could have been a Stack Exchange or Wikipedia. But it's not, probably for a variety of reasons. But that doesn't mean it was a disingenuous effort.

Is there an industry term for users who are responsible for contributing valuable content in exchange for nothing that could be legally classified as actual compensation? Or for a business whose revenue and valuation depends on said type of user?

Something Awful is the first example of such a business that comes to mind, and Reddit is the biggest modern-day equivalent. Give your moderators power (however feeble that power may be), and give your users some sort of recognition (shoutouts, internet points, etc), and they'll produce and curate valuable, eye-drawing content for you for free.

Basically all of social media is like this. You provide content to Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, whatever because you want people to see it. There is an edge case where you make money by getting famous, but usually people are just doing it for attention, same way they are for anything else. Why do people write answers on StackOverflow, Quora, whatever? They want people to read their answers and think they're smart.

Admittedly this is one explanation, another could be that people simple like helping others.

Some people like the puzzle/challenge aspect as well. Plus somebody asking something you know the answer to reinforces that your decision to retain that information has value.

I'm a librarian. We answer a lot of questions.

And sometimes you don't know the answer to the question before you start writing, but in the process you learn something new.

Answering questions I don't know is the BEST.

I wonder if there is a curated collection of stats somewhere on the lifecycle numbers on social media ventures?

It's sometimes described as 'digital sharecropping'[0]. Depending on your reason for participating you may get some economic benefit (perhaps as share or exposure for your business) while the platform both takes the bulk of any profits and completely controls the relationship.

Or you may get nothing, of course, other than some magic Internet points and a faintly tarnished sense of fun.

[0]: https://www.roughtype.com/?p=634

> the platform both takes the bulk of any profits and completely controls the relationship [...] you may get nothing, of course, other than some magic Internet points and a faintly tarnished sense of fun

The magic points are a kind of worthless scrip.


Saint Peter don't you call me cuz I can't gooooo

I owe my code to Stack Overflooooow

Interesting find. It's really amazing how much has changed since then.

> Is there an industry term for users who are responsible for contributing valuable content in exchange for nothing that could be legally classified as actual compensation?

There are actually two industry terms for that.

The outward-facing (marketing) term: "User".

The industry-internal term: "Product (for sale)".

In some sense, the people doing "unpaid work" can be seen as trying to improve their own brand, name, or following. Very few of these influencers are able to monetize directly through this type of work though, unless it's through some sort of medium that does revenue sharing, like Youtube.

This would explain why most Quora answers start off like self-promotional puff pieces you'd find on LinkedIn, about how the answer you're about to read changed someones life.

Prodigy and CompuServe both had forums - back when I was in elementary school (early 90s/late 80s) I used to read and post to the comic book forums all the time. Both services easily predate Something Awful.

How were Prodigy and CompuServe making money off your posts?

You had to pay per minute you were connected, spend time posting and you pay them, others spend time reading and they pay you


yea Web 2.0

I believe the insider jargon is “dumb fucks”.

I unsubscribed from Quora emails because I was troubled by all of the engagement manipulation in what they sent me and how well it worked. As long as it works on people and creators and consumers don’t punish platforms for promoting manipulative content, these things will continue to exist.

You can blame <social media demon of the day> as much as you want but these things will never go away until people learn to leave them.

Demonizing things doesn’t work (masking, drugs, alcohol, <human weakness of the day>, <moral outrage of the day>) and it leads to evasion, black markets, and reactionary opposition.

You have to actually teach people how things work, a reality based message about positives and negatives, and a respect for several disagreeing viewpoints in order to reach optimum outcomes which are never “goal zero”.

The harder you squeeze the more will slip through your fingers whether it’s through moralization or authoritarianism.

> I unsubscribed from Quora emails because I was troubled by all of the engagement manipulation in what they sent me and how well it worked

Exactly the same with me. Each time I received a Quora digest mail, I thought that I cannot get manipulated to open these spammy questions. But normally I clicked on multiple links leading to those answers.

I left quora long ago because of farmed questions. I would like to help people, but I wasted a lot of time answering questions that literally no one cared about.

If a person ask me what's to see in my hometown, I'd answer. But when I see that the asker has asked the same question for every town in the atlas, I know they don't really care about the answer.

And worse, quora actually paid people for this, flooding the site with questions no one actually cares about. They were wasting a ton of good people's honest work with lies, in the hope of extracting maybe 0.01% of the value of helpful people for themselves.

Quora could have been way better than that. Quora trying to force people to sign-up just to see answers for user acquisition was a bad choice in my opinion. A service a bit more informal than stack exchange, with a less aggressive moderation makes total sense.

When you answer on Quora, SO or Reddit, you are not only helping the community. You are helping the owners get richer.

You can help the community as much by writing on your personal blog.

That way you are in control and have the freedom of choosing what to say and how to say it. No rules to obey, but your own.

For me, it's all in the licence that the content is under. I contribute to Stack Overflow and Wikipedia because the content is under an Open Source licence. For Quora and Reddit the licence is proprietary and so I don't contribute.

Quora is pretty terrible these days. Tons of low quality spammy answers, annoying forced sign-in prompt for viewing certain questions and answers.

Same for stack overflow and related sites. A lot of long-term contributors but no payoff, no recognition. I guess you can put in on your resume.

I feel the same about SO. I have only contributed a tiny bit, and usually avoid it when I’m trying to debug something. Like 10 years ago the answers were pretty good, but now it seems like the accepted answer is often outdated, and below the fold there will be another answer with comments saying “this ought to be the accepted answer.” It also has a lot of low effort crap that I think must be motivated by a desire to gain clout. Specific question about functional programming method in Python: here’s how you can do that with a for loop.

I’ve wondered for years why everyone raves about this website like it’s a cultural institution to us programmers. I thought it was just me that’s underwhelmed.

Personally I find it funny that on the same day there is an article about Quora, there is also a link for plugin for blocking search results(https://github.com/iorate/uBlacklist). Immediately, I thought, oh that would be great for the spam Quora links. Although lately I’ve seen those far less, they still piss me off every time I hit one. ;)

I tend to avoid Quora mainly due to its login wall (I know how to bypass it, but to do it every time on mobile is time-consuming), only reading it if there's a "good" answer. Then again, many of the answers I found will contain (somewhat) subtle promotion to something hardly related to anything in the original question. It just doesn't get straight to the point.

I must have missed the good early days of Quora because I have always found everything about it to be extremely sucky.

Initially it had amazing writers, the UI was never good really.

However it was from the beginning an unsustainable business, fueled by VC.

I quit Quora as well.

For the reasons:

* Promoting marketing/ad related non-sense, buy my products, they are awesome answers.

* Sign up wall, sometimes I want to quickly check answers using incognito mode so it doesn't affect my feed.

* Engagement driven product. Tell your PMs thank you! Instead of being just useful, at some point it became read more answers, upvote more thing.

As much as I admire the idea of free information sharing, I think the decoupling of time and effort put into the creation of digital content and its monetization is a fundamental problem. It may be that many creators produce their content only as a hobby, but when I see how authors of popular software libraries rely on donations while big tech companies earn millions with their code, something is wrong.

It might be interesting to think about ideas where creators are automatically compensated for their digital content, even if it's just fractions of a cent per view or code execution. Many authors of popular answers on Stackoverflow would probably be rich already.

I think the author is kidding himself. Eventually as he accomplishes more significant things, he will come to realize that while his quora answers aren’t “nothing”, they are pretty damn close to it.

Quora was incredible back in 2010. I would spend hours reading and writing. The highlight was interacting with some of the great Silicon Valley characters that contributed much of the early content.

Since then the site has gotten steadily worse in every way possible, while staying aloft with infinite VC money and rich founders. It's sad story of what could've been.

Just another VC-backed zombie company. maybe it will be acquired by yahoo, google, or Microsoft and put out of its misery.

I get the same feeling when I get Groupon emails. Nostalgic from the 2010s

Totally agree. I used to browse the site and now I block it from my search results.

I was a Top Writer for a couple years (a long time ago) and I found it a great way to motivate myself to research issues I was interested in and practice writing. So from a personal perspective, it was very enriching. But I relate to the author about how all of that writing doesn't exactly amount to much.

I still find it useful today to find info on certain obscure topics.

"I want to explore new things, read more, and learn more about things I don't know. Not just pontificate about things I think I do. Perhaps even get out of my comfort zone."

This is me, couldn't put it better.


This article is heart breaking. My comments on social media / platforms (HN news included) are always short and not really deep. As the author says, political comments quickly get burried and no matter how well you express your opinion you won't be able to change someone's mind. And regarding technical stuff, there are a ton of textbooks out there. I'd rather write a textbook and distribute it for free than produce some high quality content that I don't own.

Quora is just plain strange. I used to use a sock puppet account on Quora to answer questions and "promote" my personal business (I know, not a great strategy but it worked quite well).

One day I decided to create a Quora account with my real name as the founder of my company. I then answered questions will full transparency and full disclosure when mentioning my company/product.

My real account was banned and answers deleted. My sock puppet account still thrives.

Good move.

Sometimes contributing like that is good for society though. It’s guys like him that makes it possible for us to search for the answers to things and actually find them.

But if you’re a creator - Quora especially has no rewards for anyone.

That amount of time is best spent creating portable content that can be put into any platform and these days that’s mostly video.

Just think if he made a video answering questions on quora for the last 10 years - the outcome would be vastly different.

> I look at it and I think it's not as much as I could have done with my time and talents and energies.

Is it a problem if it is?

I see people I know writing books, getting great jobs, etc. It doesn’t make me think I’m capable of those things. Long ago I realized that I’m mediocre, unexceptional, and that if all I do is have an OK job and scroll through the internet after work until I die, it is what it is.

For anyone who made an account or decided to contribute there: why? What made you do it? I’m curious what type of person contributes to it.

I have also left Quora and all social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter. What replaces Quora and social media if anything?

Quora has this nasty dark pattern where they send you spam e-mail with different senders for each "space". If you simply click on "Block this sender" in your e-mail client, it will not work, since they will send e-mails to you from new addresses. You have to block them at the domain level.

In my opinion, this is extremely user hostile for the sake of improving some metrics.

My domain-level spam filter has hundreds of domains, started with linkedin.com and facebook.com. These weasels will invent a hundred ways to get into your inbox in spite of turning off all possible mail notifications that exist at that moment.

In the past, I used to use two rules: mark as read and archive. These days I just automatically delete all.

I also get quite aggressive mobile notifications from them.

is it spam email? the unsubscribe link brings me to my email prefences with a single option, on or off.

I’ve found that they ignored any unsubscribe requests and the only way to stop getting multiple emails per day was to create a filter for their domain to my trash box.

Yes, this made me delete my Quora account. The emails are vaguely spammy and despite trying to reduce the frequency, every so often they started a new category of email that you had to independently cancel or block.

I think calling this a "dark pattern" is unnecessarily uncharitable given that you can control per-space email/notifications in your user settings already. Additionally, each space's email takes the form of "<name>-space@quora.com", which is trivial to filter on.

But sometimes the spaces are really weird, like "games-for-vegan-musicians-space" :D

I also don't use quora much, main reasons:

- No way to hide "requests for anecdotes" which seem to be more like click-bait these days.

- No incentive for de-duplicating questions (resulting in a lot of duplicates).

... it's a shame because these problems don't seem all that difficult to solve/mitigate.

This is really sad. After Yahoo Answers shut down, only Quora, W3Schools and Pinterest are left standing as informational beacons.


Pinterest does not belong in this category. It belongs in the “Internet cancer” category.

Yeah, Pinterest is more of a Greek Siren. Drawing you in with the promise of what you're searching for, and then smashing your hopes on the shore.

Stack exchange is pretty good. And unlike many people here I don't have high opinion of stack overflow, I think good documentation and github issues do a better job these days.

W3Schools and Pinterest? I don't think they are the same kind of platform

True. Anytime I have a Python 2.6 or RHEL 5 question the Stack sites are on point.

I agree wholeheartedly. It was the place once upon a time to be recognized and heard. Its not anymore. So I took down my answers and put them on my own blog- to get traffic to my site. Worked great.

I hate going to quora, visit once and you suddenly start getting loads of emails - I’ve blocked it now. Won’t go back.

Read the actual link - he is looking back at the last ten years and realised he has achieved nothing because he was addicted to quora and helping people.

It pays to reflect and ask ourselves those difficult questions.

nothing about Quora being a garbage platform with an aggressively overfit recommendation system? or its cobra effect reward model (paying for questions)? that resulted in the flood of spam questions for a really long time now?

It is amazing what people will do for imaginary internet points.

I'd be I interested in the authors view on assessing what effort is worth while.

I read that he is anti capitalism. That's a can of worms that I should probably be more careful not to open. But I've often questioned if being able to get someone to pay you to do a thing was a good proxy to assess if something was worth doing. It might just be my ingrained protestant work ethic telling me so. It's something I've yet to figure out.

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