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I want to highlight one part of my blog post no one's picked up on: "some engineer actually wrote code to deliberately break document sharing on the web." Think of all the things an engineer can do with the skill to program computers, to make amazing things on the Internet. And he or she spends that time developing new ways to make it hard to read text on a web page. Ugh.

Frankly making fun of Quora and Scribd is like shooting fish in a barrel, but sometimes it's helpful to articulate the obvious.

You say our motivation is "to force users to pay or share advertising data or some such bullshit". Actually, we don't charge users anything, and we don't run ads or sell user data or anything like that. We only try to get users to sign up because they have a better experience when they do and in the long term they write more answers and more knowledge gets shared that way.

You may not want to sign up yourself, or you may disagree with this tradeoff on principle, which is fine, but I want people to understand the motivation. We just want to increase the total amount of knowledge shared. In the short term requiring signups means some people don’t join. But a lot of people do join and start to use Quora regularly, a lot more than if there was no requirement, and those people end up contributing so many more answers that we judge this to be the right decision for the long term.

In fact, at this point, most of the answers written every day would not exist if we had not had the signup requirement. I realize that this choice makes the product worse for people who refuse to join. But in the counterfactual world Quora is a product with much less coverage of any topic, and that is a much lower quality experience for users. We are trading off a little annoyance at first for a much better experience and the ability to access a vastly larger base of content in the long term.

Thanks for the thoughtful response, I'll link it in my blog post. My apologies for mischaracterizing Quora as running ads. http://www.quora.com/Quoras-Business-Model-and-Monetization/...

How is someone who builds software to sell digital goods any different? They deliberately put a border in between the user and the content (music, ebooks, software, etc.) I don't see many people complaining about that.

You don't see many people hating DRMs?

Anyway, the point you were answering to specifically mentioned "make it hard to read text on a web page". "music, ebook, software" aren't web pages, it's not the same end goal (the browser displaying stuff on your screen).

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