Tuesday, July 7, 2015

(empo-utoobd) On Devangelism and Quora Banning - Warning, Explanation, and Recourse

In the early 1980s, the company then known as Apple Computer took the religious term "evangelism" and applied it to secular concerns - well, I guess it's secular if you don't consider the Cult of Mac to be a religion. However, although Apple Computer employed and paid salaries to "evangelists," it recognized that some of Apple's best evangelists were, and are, people who are so enthusiastic about Apple that they sing the company's praises through word of mouth.

By the same logic, if someone is so unenthusiastic about a company that he or she spreads negative word of mouth, I guess you can say that person is a "devangelist." While some use this term to refer to developer evangelists, others (h/t) use it to refer to the opposite of evangelism - rather than attracting people to your god or your cause, you are instead driving them away.

As my previous entries in the "empo-utoobd" category show, I guess that I have become a devangelist for YouTube, ever since YouTube permanently disabled my account in 2009 without warning and, until 2013, without explanation. The 2013 explanation? According to Google, I violated TOU #4 Section H (You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, "robots," "spiders," or "offline readers," that accesses the Service in a manner that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period by using a conventional on-line web browser....). And yes, it still bugs me, especially since I don't even know how to launch such an automated system, and since I have no recourse to rectify the issue.

Well, unless things are rectified soon, it looks like I may be devangelizing another service.

On Sunday night, I used one of my mobile devices to start up the Quora app, and noticed that I was being asked to log in. That's odd, I thought. When I did log in, I was not allowed to access Quora. Eventually, after trying to log in on other devices, I figured out why.

Yup...I've been banned by Quora.

Remember how my YouTube account was permanently disabled with no warning, (initially) no explanation, and no recourse? Let's see how Quora measures up.

I figured that I'd check the email associated with my Quora account to see if there was any notice saying why I was banned. The last email that I received from Quora, on July 4, was a Quora Digest (What do Americans think about Bobby Jindal?) The message that I received on July 2 mentioned nothing about banning.

Quora Moderation has flagged your answer to "What possible alternatives are there to Facebook's "real names" policy?" as not complying with policy.

Your answer should be a comment

Answers that do not answer the question will be collapsed.

To request clarification on a question or make commentary on the question itself, a comment should be used, not an answer. Answers should only be used to directly answer the question.

For more information, see Quora's policy on comments.

To make these improvements, visit:

Re-reading the message again, I see that reading the first three paragraphs alone may not have been enough. I figured that my answer was flagged and collapsed, and that was the end of it. But buried at the bottom was the "To make these improvements" text.

Was I banned for not removing an answer that had already been collapsed, as well as for one other violation? (Note that I have apparently been banned for "repeated policy violations.")

So, on Monday afternoon, I sent the following message to the Appeals address at Quora.

Dear Appeals,

Since July 5, I have received the message above when I attempt to log in to my Quora account.

The only violation of which I am aware is the one documented in the July 2 message below. I had understood - perhaps mistakenly - that the answer in question would be collapsed.

Was I supposed to actually delete the answer in question?

Since the banning notice mentions "repeated" violations, is there some other item(s) that need(s) correction for my Quora account to be reinstated? If so, how can I make these changes since I am not able to access the service?

Thank you for your reconsideration.

John Bredehoft

After sending that message, I got the following reply from Quora. You know how the message told me to send my appeal to appeals@quora.com? Apparently I'm not supposed to do that.


Thank you for writing in!

We receive many appeal requests each day and will work to get to your appeal as quickly as possible. In order to better assist you with your appeal, we ask that you please forward your appeal request to one of the following addresses:

appeals+ban@quora.com - If your appeal is in regards to a banned account.
appeals+name@quora.com - If your appeal is in regards to a name change.
appeals+anonymity@quora.com - If your appeal is in regards to your anonymity.***
appeals+bnbr@quora.com - If your appeal is in regards to a violation of our Be Nice, Be Respectful policy.
appeals+spam@quora.com - If your appeal is in regards to content that has been marked as spam or not disclosing relevant affiliations.
appeals+other@quora.com - If your appeal is in regards to any other violation.

***Appealing revoked anonymity: Please be aware that you will have to include a link to your anonymous content when appealing revoked anonymity. By providing us a link to your anonymous content, we may be able to link your anonymous activity to your email address. If you are not comfortable with this, please make sure to email us from a throw away email address.

To learn more about our policies, please visit the following links:

* Banned accounts - http://qr.ae/EJe7p
* Spam - http://qr.ae/IVyaF
* Relevant affiliations - http://qr.ae/EJiEn
* Anonymity - http://qr.ae/EJaob
* BNBR - http://qr.ae/EJaiQ
* Name change - http://qr.ae/jNpRh
* Quora policies and guidelines - http://qr.ae/EJeRT

Please make sure to include a link to the content that you are appealing, as well as a link to your profile URL. Due to the large volume of appeals that we experience, please note that we will only be able to provide you with a response if we determine that your appeal is valid.

Thank you,
The Quora Team

(Interesting aside from the "banned accounts" link: "In most cases, admins have the discretion to make edit-block and banning decisions based on their own judgment.")

I then replied:

As instructed, I am resending my message to appeals+ban@quora.com.

I was asked to provide a link to the content that I am appealing, as well as a link to my profile URL. Since I cannot log into my account, I do not know my profile URL - however, the email address associated with this account is [REDACTED]. As for the content that I am appealing, I only know of one violation, as I stated in my original message (reproduced below).

I then reproduced my original email to appeals@quora.com, including Quora's July 2 message.

Quora will presumably respond, either quickly or not to quickly, in one of three ways:

1. Documentation of all of my repeated policy violations (explanation). Ideally, Quora would also say how to correct these, and how to get my account reinstated (recourse). Or, Quora might say, "Sorry, bud" (no recourse).

2. A simple statement that I violated Quora's policies, with no explanation and no recourse.

3. Silence, which obviously implies no explanation and no recourse.

So I'm waiting for the response, mainly due to curiosity - did I really get banned for putting a comment in the form of an answer? Is Alex Trebek an investor in Quora?

Or perhaps I should take the advice of my former school classmate, who offered this comment when I discussed this on Facebook Sunday night:

Sounds like somebody did you a favor John

To be continued...
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