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SockPuppets are when people use multiple accounts to try to game the algorithms of SocialMedia.

At the simplest it's using one account to upvote another account you run. But obviously any way you provide your own social approval of yourself is going to confuse people on social media.

Quora Answer : How do Quorans feel about the banning of Michael O. Church?

Sep 24, 2015

Just saw this today with A2A.

Like most people, I'm pretty mystified. Was M.O.C. "sockpuppeting"? (What IS sockpuppeting? Having multiple accounts? Are multiple accounts a reason for a ban from Quora?)

Obviously, if this is for a different reason and Quora is lying to us, then this is a WTF? But basically this is just stupid. A stupid decision. And a stupid situation for Quora to get itself into. And it's probably a bad symptom of deeper failure at Quora.

Quora's deeper problem is that it doesn't know whether it's a tech. company or a media company. Because it resists being a media company, it doesn't accept editorial responsibility to defend strongly opinionated voices like Church who would be an asset to any newspaper. But because it can't rid itself of some pretensions to be a media company, it won't try to take a hands-off position like, say, 4chan or even Facebook.

Companies that see themselves as providing information but refuse to take an editorial stand, end up going the other way. All their editorial decisions are aimed at eliminating strong voices or even just surprising opinions or hard-to-parse writing. They tend towards bland mediocrity.

Once you do that, you offer very little added value. You are effectively the Reader's Digest. Your product is a lowest common denominator infomodity. You may find a niche, like Wikipedia, of being a nice, sweet volunteer effort to provide free infomodity knowledge to everyone, but at the explicit cost of "no original research". And that flies in the face of Quora's alleged mission to grow the world's information.

To grow the world's information, you need to encourage daring and original thinking. And to do that, you need to be willing to champion those who challenge established ideas and piss-off entrenched interest. Quora won't be a generator of new ideas and knowledge if it continually tries to eliminate anything that an army of volunteer moderators feel might offend or might confuse someone or are just too different.

Obviously, if M.O.C.'s suspicions - that this is petty vengeance by investors - are true, then that is so fucked up I don't even have a rational comment to make.

Nevertheless, in one sense, that's just a kind of one-off "black swan" event. It's actually more troubling if Quora have just decided that to achieve mainstream acceptability they have to throw out the awkward squad. If that's the case, Quora is in serious danger of falling between different stools. It can't be Wikipedia because it's not a charity and users don't and won't see themselves as volunteers who have agreed to submerge their personalities for a greater good.

And it won't generate new ideas because all the original thinkers are made unwelcome by deadening editorial policy.

In which case, what's actually left for Quora?

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