Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Monday, 26 August 2019

I've had it with Quora and am gradually closing my account there

I've had enough of Quora, though I still occasionally answer questions there. Too many things about it annoy me now and chief of these is -

The Quora Partner Program... (QPP)
...which pays people to ask questions. This means that in among genuine questions people ask them most inane banalities and then tag people (which might include me) to answer them. It's never bothered me that Quora doesn't pay for answers as I'm happy to answer where I can contribute. Similarly I get no payment for editing Wikipedia and - although the homeopaths seem unable to accept it - I also get no payment for pointing out on social media that homeopathy is guff. But I digress ;)

The Quora Payment Program has certainly coincided with a massive increase in absolute drivel appearing on the site, though I can't prove that it caused it. However it does mean that any question I'm now asked grates a little more as I wonder if someone is getting paid to ask it, although really it shouldn't make any difference because I have always enjoyed answering questions! But it does.

The QPP may also be responsible for a series of almost identical questions being asked over a short space of time - perhaps people forget that they'd already asked me to answer their first version.

Duplicate answers
The search on Quora is pretty good and will generally show you if a question has already been asked / answered. There's no point in re-asking it but Quora's now full of these duplicates and triplicates that are phrased in a slightly different way. Fortunately it's fairly straightforward to merge questions and answers and you're given the opportunity to pick either the more viewed page over the less viewed one, or the one that you think more people will search for (the more popular one may have been actively shared on social media).

Email spam
I went through all possible "do not email me" options and had several months, possibly years, of no emails from Quora until recently when I discovered it had added some new options and automatically signed me up. Don't ever do that. I've now gone through and blocked those settings too (I don't object to on-Quora notifications).

Inability to set a "please don't ask me questions for a period of time" option
I've previously asked Quora how to adjust things so that I don't show up as a suggestion when people are looking for answers. As I log in infrequently (I tend to visit the site mostly during Christmas and bank holidays) I'm effectively ignoring people who've asked me to answer. Instead of doing that I'd much rather say "I'm out of the Quoffice" and set it for a period of weeks / months. People cannot know if I'm not around or just ignoring them (it used to be possible to give a reason when you passed on a question but that option seems to have gone). It's unfair to other users and annoying to me when I log in and find loads of (often irrelevant) questions in my 'requested to answer' pile. I just whizz through and delete them all now unless I spot one that's actually relevant / that I can answer.

The only solution is to deactivate (rather than delete) your account - this works very well. The only reason I'm not using it at the moment is so that I can log in and access 'my' content and move it offsite. Once I've finished and deleted all my answers I'll be able to delete my account permanently.

Layout doesn't prioritise 'asked to answer' questions
When you click on 'Answer' it gives you 'Questions for you' which are random questions that might be relevant based on previously answered questions. But it's not the list of questions that you've actually been asked to answer, that's in a separate bit to click in, called Answer Requests.  This page is one of the more irritating as it shows you some of the latest ones and as you delete or answer them starts to show you some earlier ones. I've found questions in there from several months ago (I'd assume you'd show them in order with earliest asked first - nope).

Has it already been answered by someone else?
My fault for not noticing this more promptly I think but there's no point in answering an asked-to-answer that's been answered satisfactorily by someone else. I just don't see the point. I'd only answer or comment if I have something to add (or occasionally correct) or if there was currently no answer. Of course Quora arranges things so that you're presented with a question and an option to answer. I can see that questions do say "No answers yet" or "5 answers" or "1 answer" - perhaps that's always been there and I failed to spot this clue (!).

You cannot download or export your own content other than manually
It's not portable as far as I can tell. I'm manually copy / pasting my answers to my new storage place for them and deleting them from Quora. They won't be properly deleted until I kill my account as at the moment I can restore them at any time. It should be straightforward to download and migrate my own content.

I've got over 270 answers on there so the copying and pasting will take some time, done 5 so far, doing a few every few days so will probably take me about a year to transfer. I look forward to liberating my answers from Quora's clutches. A shame, as I really liked Quora to begin with.

You have to log in to read more than one article
If you're not logged in and want to have a bit of a read it keeps pestering you to log in. I think you can get round this by right clicking and opening in a new tab, or searching for the content on Google and re-entering the site through that way but it's irritating, the content is free and it's supported by ads. There's no need to log in. On a mobile it's apparently even worse with a pop-up constantly requesting you download its app.

Good things about Quora
It's free to use, anyone can ask or answer a question, it is fairly well moderated (though one of my own answers was deleted because it pointed to a commercial site), it's really easy to paste in a screenshot (no need to file / upload). Although adding links can be a bit fiddly, anything from Twitter autoresolves to a hyperlink saying 'Login in to Twitter' so you have to 'hide' the link under some text or have a fight with it to stop it doing that, but generally it's fine.

Further reading
What turns people off about Quora? (a question asked on Quora) which has even more bleats than this post!
Yes, Quora still exists, and it’s now worth $2 billion (May 2019) - Recode