I wrote earlier about running into issues with Quora because my username did not conform to their policies. This is the same thing that happened with Google Plus. In that case as with this one, I changed my name to ‘Ramya Ideasmith’ and it still didn’t get accepted.
I find differing usernames across social media platforms, a real inconvenience. It also goes completely counter to my requirement to keep my online identity standard and accessible. (I also find it personally offensive that anybody can dictate to me, what is or is not a ‘real’ name but that’s probably not relevant to the conversation.) However, I do believe that at some point of time in the future, social media platforms will (have to) start thinking about what their community members need.
In the meantime here are some interesting things that I found when I explored Quora:
1. I expected to find a ‘Delete Account’ option under Settings/Account. I didn’t. Instead I did find a list of all the services that my Quora account linked to.
2. It turns out that you can deactivate a Quora account, not delete it. Go to Username (top-right)/Settings/Privacy
Now consider these two facts: One, a Quora membership is like a one-way ticket. Once you’ve registered, you cannot actually ‘leave’ the system. Secondly, while using the service, you may choose to link it to your other platforms. This means that you are giving Quora access to your information on those platforms. The relevance of this is that we are in the information age and information, especially about yourself, is the most valuable currency you have.
- Quora retains your Social Network Service id, if you connect it. Given that the only features I found was to ‘Disallow viewing by others’ and ‘Deactivate Account’ instead of Delete, I assume that this is a one-way feature too. Once that piece of information has been shared with Quora, it cannot be deleted or taken back by you.
- Quora also states that it may share your personally identifiable information with third parties. Later it also states that this information may be stored in locations beyond Quora’s control. Effectively this tells me that Quora retains the right to share the information that I’ve given it while not taking any responsibility for what happens to it.
- And if my assessment was in doubt, Quora tells me so explicitly.
What about content that users have posted, since Quora is a content sharing platform? Apparently Posts can be deleted. I don’t see a feature that lets you block or unsubscribe readers from your posts. Questions-and-answers on the other hand, which are the essence of Quora, cannot be deleted by the user that posted them. Of note, Twitter lets you block followers and Facebook lets you delete your own comments.
Your own bio is also under your very limited control. You can edit/delete your description but not your name. Once again establishing the fact that you can check into Quora but you can’t check out.
In conclusion, I find Quora’s question-and-answer format interesting and the content-versus-people focus fresh. However, the restrictive naming policy and the fact that users have so little control over their own information once they’re on the platform are HUGE downers. How do I, an informed and contributing user, abide by what is first offensive (naming policy) and second, gives me zero control over information that I create and own?
I’m hearing about how this (like others) is a free service and that I cannot expect these ‘benefits’. However, for a service that is about user-generated content, its users are partners. A social network only works if it has people on it. And what is a user-generated content service that doesn’t value its users? Short-lived I think, unless its policies evolve.