Why you should never use Quora again

Original author: Andy Baio
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On December 3, Quora announced that 100 million user accounts were compromised, including their personal activity, such as cons for comments and private messages, thanks to the actions of “malicious third parties”.

Data leaks are an annoying part of the life cycle of any online service: the more their popularity grows, the bigger they become. Almost all major online services have ever had a security hole: Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Tumblr, Uber, Evernote, eBay, Adobe, Target, Twitter, and Sony have suffered user data leaks in the past few years.

Such security breakthroughs are a strong argument for using a password manager, but they cannot be called a convincing argument against using your favorite service - unless you are going to completely disconnect from the Internet.

However, it seems that it is a great time to remind you of all the other reasons why you should never use the Quora service.

Mindless accumulation of knowledge

Four years ago, Eric Mill wrote about the tendency of service to mindless accumulation of knowledge, and since then nothing has changed. According to the “ About the Project ” page , “Quora’s mission is to share information with the world and increase its amount.” 300 million users per month and 40 million questions asked from the opening of the service perfectly allow the project to increase world knowledge, but they terribly manage to share them.

The whole value of the service lies in the answers provided by the users, and the service does a lot to create a good platform for finding and answering questions. But they do everything to make sure that you can not extract this user input. At Quora:

  • No public API.
  • No tools to backup or export.
  • Access to answers without an account is limited.
  • Automatic scripts and unofficial APIs are blocked, and issues related to downloading information from their site have been removed.

Compare the situation with their competitors Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange, which offer APIs , a huge number of user-created tools and their support community , a powerful Data Explorer tool for querying and exporting data, and a liberal automatic downloading policy. In addition, services are not trying to hide questions and answers for authorization. They even proactively upload impersonal databases of user-created data into an online archive for descendants under a Creative Commons license.

Yes, even Ask MetaFilter allows you to rummage through history, and for the most part this site was made by one person.

Blocking save

You can, of course, justify them, arguing that tools such as API or export are not priorities for this service, especially considering that they are still struggling to earn money.

However, over the years, the Quora site has specifically prohibited the Internet archive from indexing its site. That's what you can see by trying to find its pages in the Wayback Machine:

Quora index could literally do nothing, and the Internet Archive would save the work of millions of their users for the future, but they decided to exclude their site from the archive.

In the robots.txt file, they explain why they block the Wayback Machine, stating that they are doing this in the name of protecting their authors.

People share large amounts of sensitive materials on Quora - controversial political views, rumors from work, and negative opinions about companies. Years pass, they change their mind or work, and it is important that they be able to remove or de-personalize their previous answers.

We refuse the Wayback Machine, because otherwise people will be able to reveal the identity of the authors who wrote sensitive answers, and after they have depersonalized them, and because this makes it impossible for authors to remove their content from the Internet after they have changed their opinion about its publication. As far as we can judge, there is no way to selectively delete content from the archive, so this is the only way to protect our writers. If the archive opens the API, where it will be possible to delete the content when the authors delete it from Quora, and leave the rest, we will be happy to join the archive.

The Internet Archive is the historical archive of the public Internet, and Quora’s requests for the ability to selectively change its archives look absurd. Such an API would be an ideal abuse target.

The Internet Archive involuntarily works as insurance for ill-considered start-up business plans, extremely unfortunate circumstances or mergers. Managing a social platform containing content created by users, you are responsible for ensuring that their collective work is not in vain. Part of the responsibility is to participate in the life of the web, and give him what you take from him.

Excerpt from the FAQ Wayback Machine:
Why does the Internet Archive collect sites from the Internet? What makes this information useful?

In most societies, it is considered important to preserve artifacts of cultural heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and learning mechanism based on successes and failures. Our culture is producing more and more artifacts in digital form. Archive's mission is to help preserve these artifacts and create an online library for researchers, historians and scientists.
Quora site closure is not an unlikely opportunity, and there is a compelling case for maintaining this unique collection of personal stories and knowledge. Most of the social platforms that receive venture capital funding end up being closed, and in many cases only the archivist volunteers and the Internet Archive remain.

All attempts by Quora to close the contributions of its community make it extremely difficult to save content after the site is turned off - and it will someday disappear. If you want to contribute to Quora, they will actively fight to restrict access to your work.

Burning library

Almost 10 years have passed since the site was founded, and Quora's long-term perspectives are still undetermined. He has already received more than $ 225 million in four rounds of financing, the last time was a contribution of $ 85 million in April 2017, when its estimated cost was $ 1.7 billion.

Last year, the site launched its own advertising platform, but has not yet announced its received from her income. And this was the first time in nine years of existence, when he earned at least something - and this is better than nothing, but the question of whether such a project will support the project afloat remains open.

At some point, investors who have a quarter billion dollars in it will want to get their money back. Last year, project founder Adam Diangelo said that sooner or later they would come to an IPO. However, the state of the market together with the results of the work of their advertising platform can force them to go in a different direction - and merging or selling always remain in the list of opportunities.

When Quora closes and this site closes once, all that knowledge gathered will be lost unless the project changes its isolationist character.

In 2012, Adam Diandzhedlo wrote: "We hope to become the Alexandria Internet-scale library." But as long as Quora continues to pick up the exits, exactly the same fate can comprehend it.

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