Wearing dice on my head since 2008 Programmer, engineer, scientist, critic, gamer, dreamer, and kid-at-heart. Randomly amazed.

Quora

· by roy · Read in about 3 min · (530 Words)
Categories: Tech Life | Tags:

Recently, Q&A site Quora announced that they got hacked.

I started reading Quora back around 2012. My impression then of the site is that it encouraged insightful, well-written, story-like answers. This was opposed to other Q&A sites like Stackoverflow which encourared concise and clinical answers. This impression was amplified by the 2013 release of a Best of Quora EBook which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In 2016, during a work hiatus, I started trying to write on Quora as well. You can follow me there if you like.. I found writing on Quora useful as an exercise, it helped me improve on my own writing and to expound my thoughts. I often sought out more open-ended questions so that I could write more, although I wasn’t particularly successful in that regard. I managed to post quite a few answers back in 2016, and my Quora stats page tells me my answers have collectively gotten 168k views and 608 upvotes as of this writing. Not sure if that’s anything to brag about, but I guess it’s something?

I was tempted to write about Quora because of two things:

  1. They’ve recently been hacked. They immediately notified their users, which is good.

The following information of yours may have been compromised:

Account and user information, e.g. name, email, IP, user ID, encrypted password, user account settings, personalization data

Public actions and content including drafts, e.g. questions, answers, comments, blog posts, upvotes

Data imported from linked networks when authorized by you, e.g. contacts, demographic information, interests, access tokens (now invalidated)

Non-public actions, e.g. answer requests, downvotes, thanks

Questions and answers that were written anonymously are not affected by this breach as we do not store the identities of people who post anonymous content.

None of the above particularly concerns me, though I understand it might concern other people.

  1. Andy Baio of waxy.org writes about Why You Should Never, Ever Use Quora

All of Quora’s value is derived from the answers provided by its users, and they go to great lengths to make a well-designed platform for finding and replying to questions.

But they do everything they can to make sure you can’t get those contributions back out.

Quora has:

No public API.
No backup or export tools.
Restricted access to answers without an account.
Blocked scrapers and unofficial APIs, and deleted questions related to scraping on their site.

The “no backup” is something I only noticed after reading his post and is particularly glaring to me, since I’ve recently had a policy of wanting to have offline access to all content I’ve ever written on the internet.

I stopped answering questions regularly on Quora around 2017, although I still read it every so often. There are still a lot of well-written answers, and I still find my Quora Daily Digest emails useful, but given the above two points I will have to re-evaluate how I use Quora in the future. The first thing will probably be to look for a way to export my content!

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