As some of my readers may have noticed, yesterday my Quora account was rather abruptly and unceremoniously deleted with no warning.
I’ve been active on Quora for about three years, in fits and starts. In that time I’d amassed 988 followers and 1.93 million views on my answers. The most popular answer I ever wrote was in response to the question, “What does a vagina feel like to a man?” I wrote almost 2,100 answers on relationships, the Second Amendment, religion and atheism, BDSM, polyamory and depression.
The whole time, I wrote under the name J.S. Wayne.
Perfectly logical, right? I’m known EVERYWHERE as J.S. My books are published under that name. Even my girls, the two women who are closest to me in the world, call me J.S.! A simple Google search using the term “J.S. Wayne” throws up 20,700 results. Therefore, it would be logical to assume I’m not trying to hide anything or defraud anyone. Never once did I write an answer anonymously, or try to hide who I was. If I’m going to put my thoughts out there in the universe, gentle reader, you’re going to fucking well KNOW where it came from!
The interesting thing is, in three years on that site, I made some enemies. I gave some trolls verbal Gibbs slaps, bludgeonings and beatings. I racked up more than a few violations of Quora’s Be Nice, Be Respectful, or BNBR, policy. Imagine that: the guy who doesn’t suffer fools gladly taking issue with fools and getting scolded for it. Whodathunkit?
When you get a BNBR notice, this means someone at Quora Moderation looks over your content to determine if there is an actual, valid offense. The obvious implication is that when they’re looking at your content, common sense would suggest they would have noticed the name attached to it and say, “Wait…that don’t look quite right, Cletus!”
I answered a handful of questions yesterday and stepped away for #SexTalkTuesday. Imagine my surprise when I returned to find a bold headline blocking a quarter of my screen, which said in effect, “You have been blocked from contributing to Quora for violation of our Real Name Policy.” It then gave a link to submit an appeal if I chose to do so.
Which…OF FUCKING COURSE I DID!
While there is an appeals process at Quora, in my experience it usually comes down on the side of the original complainant. Since the rules are applied at best haphazardly to begin with, it should come as no surprise that my conversation with Quora Moderation was, to say the least, unsatisfactory.
After several emails back and forth, where they insisted I use a “real” first name and I riposted explaining why in this case that would be inappropriate and unreasonable, they basically told me to pack sand.
Now, here’s the scary part to my mind.
Once you put a question out on Quora, and that question gets answers, it belongs to the community.
Once you ANSWER a question, your writing still belongs to you. BUT Quora can cause that writing to be republished elsewhere. Under the Quora TOS, you are not entitled to any compensation or even to be told if or when your writing is being republished offsite. This is concerning because it means online publications like Slate, Salon, The Huffington Post and others can obtain clickbait gratis and you, the writer, may never even know you’ve scored a professional byline unless you Google yourself.
And, let’s be honest; nearly ALL writers are just narcissistic enough to do this once in a while. Except when professional writers do it, we get to call it “market research” so we don’t sound like self-aggrandizing dildos.
Knowing this, I went ahead and started the account deletion process. My issue is that the site offers a 14-day “grace period,” during which time you can reverse the process. They say this is for the benefit of users, but for the reasons given above I’m deeply skeptical of this. I feel the unspoken, REALLY real reason is likely so the powers that be at Quora can figure out how to achieve maximum profit off a departing contributor’s work before the door slams and the content vanishes out of “legal” use forever.
Because of this, when it became clear that Quora Moderation wasn’t interested in working with me or considering the other side of the story, I sent a brief, tersely worded email to “Amelia,” which went as follows:
In anticipation of that being Quora’s response, I’ve taken the liberty of deleting my account. If you have a nuclear option to delete it more quickly, rather than making me wait 14 days, that would be doing me a great service. Since your response makes it perfectly clear that Quora is not interested in retaining me as an unpaid contributor on your site, I would prefer the content I created for the benefit of Quora users be eliminated immediately if not sooner, as there is no longer any further benefit to me in permitting that content to remain on Quora.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Jericho Scott Wayne
Former Quora User
I then proceeded to verify my bona fides as the account owner and content creator in question and went on about my day.
As I was writing this post, I received another email from Amelia.
We’ve gone ahead and processed your request for account deletion. Your account will be deleted shortly.
So, that’s that for that.
Am I sorry about the time I spent on Quora? No.
Do I regret or begrudge the time I spent answering questions and trying to educate people about matters in which I have some knowledge or experience, as described above? No.
Do I wish I’d had a chance to say goodbye to my followers and explain why I suddenly dropped off the face of the Earth as defined by Quora?
Well…that’s why I’m here.
So, if you followed me on Quora, I’d like to take this opportunity to invite you to follow my social media and/or shoot me an email at email@example.com. I’d also like to say I’m sorry for disappearing so abruptly. Who knows? Maybe this was just the universe’s way of saying the time had come for me to direct my energies into other fields of endeavor which will allow me to help and benefit even more people, and hopefully myself as well.
But, to the powers that be at Quora: You’ve let the inmates run the asylum for too long, governed by selectively applied, vaguely worded policies which can basically be twisted and tortured to mean whatever an admin thinks they ought to. You’ve let clickbait links take over legitimate Q&A, which was the entire purpose of your site. You’ve empowered trolls and stifled those who spoke or acted against them. I’ve watched Quora deteriorate from an excellent website which attracted the best and brightest to a text-heavy version of Facebook…and honestly, I was getting kinda done with you anyway. #SorryNOTSorry
It’s time to move on.
Let’s see what Medium has to offer. I hear Brooke Schwartz is doing well there…