Quora is a joke

Brandon Na
6 min readMar 28, 2020

TLDR:

  • Quora used to be a decent platform to answer questions and help “share and grow the world’s knowledge”
  • In recent years, their “bots” have been flagging and automatically deleting well thought out and incredible answers by some of their top writers
  • Adam D'Angelo — please do something about this

Eight years ago, I embarked on a journey that I thought was at least partially fruitful. Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever built one of the better Q&A services online after Yahoo became the original joke. It was interesting. So, I thought I would participate.

At first, like most contributors, my answers were NOT that popular. My writing wasn’t that great either. So, no skin off my back. I didn’t put much effort into it anyway.

My popularity soon changed. I decided to write about two crazy stories I knew about my father to answer this question: Hypothetical Scenarios: If you were ever held at gunpoint, what would you say to the gunman? I guess, I wasn’t the only one who found it to be entertaining.

Next up became my most popular answer, in terms of likes, on the site. I answered: Has someone treated you poorly until they discovered you were wealthy and/or successful? To date, it has just short of 3000 likes. It’s also been “supposedly viewed” more than 84,000 times (despite doubting it though because I feel like Quora’s metrics are a bit off). Regardless, I felt more compelled to try and write answers like it to elucidate thoughts or notions based off my life’s experiences. I ended up contributing 1100+ answers in total, 679 questions and countless hours building up D’Angelo’s empire.

(Updated 3/2022) Supposedly I’ve generated more than 24 million views and over 16 thousand upvotes with my content. It might not compete with the “top writers” on the site, but it’s still a lot.

Free content generation for the guy up top

However, after a decade of contributing, I’ve noticed that many of my answers are starting to get flagged and deleted. The excuses made are: “they are violating guidelines.” I’ve read them all and if I were a lawyer on the other side, I would say the worst thing I’ve done is added a few extra links into my posts that help support the claims I make.

So, I’ve submitted appeals and many of them were overturned and posts like this were reinstated: What have you done wrong in life?

It was annoying, but hey, I guess I have to play the game too.

Nevertheless, my frustration has been growing. I started to ask others if they were also feeling the pain:

Do top writers even get moderated by Quora’s editorial team?

Are top writers also moderated by Quora’s editorial team?

A few of their replies:

Kat Rectenwald, A dating site brought me here

Yes, I believe even more so.

Which made sense as long as they gave out quills; it could be assumed tw’s where more present in people’s feeds so they were expected to be “good” — for the community and advertisers alike.

On a few occasions, I went too far and someone reported me, they took immediate action, but they reinstated quite quickly, too.

That seems to be different in relation to the number of actions they take on reports towards non-tw’s.

Generally speaking: the more visible you are, the more likely you will be reprimanded quickly if you have violated bnbr, tw or not.

Robert Webster, I’ve been a regular user of Quora for a few years now.

Originally Answered: Are top writers also moderated by Quora’s editorial team?

Most of the moderation done on Quora is through bots. Otherwise Quora would have to pay several thousand people to moderate both people that ask questions and those that answer, its just not feasible to do that. So instead they’ve scripted bots to do most of the heavy lifting. Yet the bots only gets things correct a partial of the time, rest of the time the bots just makes a mess. Comparatively of what a human moderator does vs how much a bot does, majority of the work is done by bots. Yet if a problem has escalated high enough, then a person will intervene to fix the issue. Like say if your answer got unjustly deleted by the bot and you try to appeal the delete, a person will attend to it within a day or few days to make sure you actually didn’t break any rules.

Stephanie Vardavas, Top Writer 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013

Do top writers even get moderated by Quora’s editorial team?

Yes.

I feel qualified to answer because I have been on Quora since late 2010. I am a six-time Top Writer and a three-time Top Question Writer.

And I have more than 6,000 collapsed answers. So, yes and hell yes.

I think most of them are collapsed because Quora felt they were too short, but I have no way of really knowing, since they are mostly marked “Needs improvement.” But I have no systematic way of finding them, so I just leave them alone.

If I had a BNBR violation I’m quite sure I’d receive a specific notification about it.

This morning, I spent almost 4 hours writing answers to this How has the coronavirus affected you? and How worried should we be about the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States?

I thought my answers were quite compelling and came back to see if anyone had read them, but instead found this for both of the answers:

Now, I’m wondering how many other answers have I spent slaving away at building content for Mr. D’Angelo?

So, for my potentially last contribution to the site, I asked: Are you starting to feel like Quora is REALLY wasting our time as contributors?

I probably won’t be contributing to Quora anymore and instead working off platform like here on Medium or on my personal blog where I’m starting an audience. Also, I won’t have to worry about my content being arbitrarily deleted for the most stupid reasons.

You probably don’t care Adam D'Angelo, but I’m starting to get a feel many of your writers are.

p.s. There’s a good reason why I was able to generate:

  • 24 million+ views
  • 16 k+ in upvotes and
  • 638 shares

p.p.s I’m an SEO who knows who to generate better metrics for you.

Rather, I WAS a former contributor who is an SEO who COULD have generated better metrics for you.

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Update here in March of 2022:

I’ve updated the metrics that the site has claimed I’ve generated. Supposedly, with my questions in addition to my answers, my views have skyrocketed to 24 million+ views. The upvotes continued to climb another 4k and the shares almost doubled.

March 29, 2022 Update on my stats

The sad thing though is I really haven’t done much since this medium post. While I didn’t completely leave Quora, I was very much reluctant to try and even contribute.

I wouldn’t be surprised if many others also were discouraged. And I hope the “beom” who came by to criticize wasn’t Adam in disguise or some fiverr guy that was hired to trash this piece. There were plenty who were just as discouraged as I was & again, I could have contributed much more free content.

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Brandon Na

Brewing something more exciting than life itself