The truth is I have no idea why I receive Quora Digest emails. I don't recall subscribing to the feed. Of course, nowadays one can passively "accept" electronic deliveries of bullshit by failing to unclick some hidden option box. I am certain, however, that I'm not registered on Quora website. I wouldn't.
Quora, as in plural of Quorum - in the same way as Data is plural of Datum. It is basically a blogging hub masked as a Q&A platform: one registered person posts a question and all other registered contributors are invited to answer. Strictly speaking, this unrestricted invitation to participate clashes with the name, which refers to "select groups." Maybe the founders confused it with fora (the Latin plural of forum). I don't know and I don't care: The whole concept reminds me of Coffee Talk with Linda Richman, when Mike Myers would get "all verklempt" and invite us to talk amongst ourselves by providing a discussion topic.
Moreover, many things about Quora simply creep me out. For instance, Quora's T&C state that contributors retain the copyright to their content. Well, it's great that they threw that in, however, the enforcement appears to be highly problematic. Questions posted to the site are open for editing by everyone. This includes official editors and all registered users. Users can also submit unlimited number of suggestions for editing the responses. Therefore, the possibilities for modifications of the original material are endless. The apparent absence of a solution for the copyright sharing basically nullifies the notion of IP protection.
It's weird that the site demands its users to register with their real names instead of handles and go through email verification. It's not that I think people should hide, but they must remember that Quoara automatically releases users' names to the search engines. We don't know whether the site gets some sort of fees in return, but it wouldn't surprise me if they do. Just like it wouldn't surprise me if they intend to sell the subscribers' lists to other marketers as well. But these are just my speculations. In the absence of a clear mission statement, that's the only thing one can do - guess.
In reality, the fact that Adam D'Angelo (CEO) doesn't seem to be interested in generating revenues makes me very suspicious of his actual intentions and motivations. It seems only logical to suggest that they are spying on the contributors, studying their interests, behavioral patterns, and tastes in preparation for eventual commercialization of the site. Or is it something even more sinister? How the hell did they get a $900 million third-round valuation? What sort of potential revenue this number is based on?
As I said, it's creepy. I don't even open Quora Digest emails. But I'm not unsubscribing either - because of the subject line, which always shows the top question of the day. I don't want to give up the opportunity to glance at it. Most of the time, what I see reeks of laziness. I mean, we live in the Internet age - go on Wikipedia or just google this banal crap! But once in a while some amazing shit pops up.
The other day I read: "How can you maximize your happiness in life?" Wow! Is this person for real? 60,000 antelopes just died in Kazakhstan for unknown reason and half of Europe is covered in water and mud, but this human is not only happy, he wants to bring the bliss to the next level! Even crazier, he expects to receive constructive instructions from his fellow Quora members?! Well, good luck with that!
Actually, it's not this kind of oddities that keep me looking. I am more interested in patterns and trends. For instance, recently I've noticed an increase in frequency of the questions concerning material self-sufficiency and economic survival. Well, it's surprising that people on Quora don't talk about their inability to support themselves all the time. I'm guessing that most of them consider bringing it up under their real names in front of the strangers embarrassing. Nevertheless, the number of such queries is apparently spiking.
Below are three questions I found to be most typical; with my brief comments (remember: I'm not subscribed, so I don't know the answers that followed; I can only provide my own):
1. "What kind of salary guarantees comfortable living in NYC?" What a terribly formulated question! It should've come with a separate note explaining what "comfortable" means to the inquirer. Cause, what's comfortable to a person fresh out of Idaho who has never spent more than $100 on a pair of shoes and considers a $350 Michael Kors bag a chic statement may mean financial misery to someone with a different background.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that the questioner is single and actually meant comfortable, but not extravagant, i.e. a good one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan with no roommates; year-round pleasant climate control; full range of cable and streaming entertainments; cell and land phones; a car kept in a garage; designer coffee in a favorite shop; going out for drinks at least once a week; eat out twice a week; cooking with high quality ingredients; good cheese, wine, and fruit in the fridge; mid-range ($800-$1500) outfits; 2-3 new pairs of $500 shoes a year; one new $2000-$3000 bag a year, at least one annual vacation; a play and a concert once in a while. And the answer is - $250K annual salary should do it, assuming the drinking is actually limited to once a week.
And you thought that those who made $250K a year are rich?! Not in this town, baby!
2. "At Facebook and Google, why are many new CS graduates offered 120K+ with a 30-120K signing bonus while those with a few years experience are offered a baseline salary with no bonus?" Well, the direct answer to this question is simple: Computer Science, in a sense, is like Medicine and Pharmacology - they continuously undergo major changes and developments. I mean, double-entry bookkeeping was created 600 years ago and it will remain fundamental as long as accounting records will be needed on this planet. On the other hand, today's standard surgical techniques were experimental only 5 years ago. It happens even faster in high-tech where innovations occur pretty much on a monthly basis.
While doctors never stop studying and researching, most (not all) computer engineers and programmers are not as motivated to stay on top of the game. Those in training are taught the most up-to-date techniques and methods; they are subjected to the most recent trends. And that's what Facebooks and Googles want - the newest and the freshest; in order to keep ahead of the rat race. So, it's not about whether you graduated this year or five years ago - it's the set of skills you put on your resume. Veteran coders who can match the knacks with 22-year-olds can demand pretty much the same level of compensation.
But what interests me the most in this inquiry is its fiscal aspect. There is no way the $120K/year new hires of Facebook and Google will be able to enjoy the comforts similar to those listed in point 1. These companies operate largely in San Francisco Bay area, which, according to my observations of exactly 2 years ago, is even less affordable than NYC. Of course, high-tech nerds of both sexes go to work in khakis and polo shirts and don't carry Prada bags to the office. On the other hand, they buy more electronic devices than any other human and their coffee is far more expensive. So, some corners will need to be cut.
Obviously their lower-compensated older co-workers have even harder time (hence, the exasperation and the bitterness). Let's hope that they are smart enough to share expenses with their partners/spouses and don't plan on having any kids.
3. "I'm unemployed, broke, balding, living with my parents, about to turn 30, friendless, depressed, and miserable. How can I possibly turn it around?"
Ah, and here we come to the reality of the vast majority. This boy probably forgot to mention that he has a degree(s) in Liberal Arts and no practical skills. The horde of young people in similar situations is ever-expanding. They are so far removed from the idea of "comfortable" living that a $120K salary seems just as fantastic to them as a $3 million book advance or a $20 million per movie compensation package.
They were brought up on the illusion that in this Land of Opportunities they have the freedom of pursuing their interests in humanities and, "as long as they work hard," their "rightful" place in the economic system is guaranteed. They failed to realize that this clinically dead ideal has been kept on life support by the tuition-hungry education institutions for years. They probably still don't know that the economic system in question has been deformed and became unrecognizable, just like the sociopolitical structures, environmental conditions, and human relationships.
I can just imagine the answers elicited by this question. They probably fell into two categories: the ones from the peers ("Dude, you are totally fucked!" or "I hear you, bro!") and the ones from the middle-aged politically correct deniers of reality ("It's okay, things will get better" or "There is nothing wrong with being bold").
As for me, only a few years ago I would've still tried to be motivational and push my entrepreneurial agenda, urging this person to crystallize his aptitudes into a small business idea and work hard on making it happen for himself. I used to say that if misplaced children of my peers went into landscaping, housekeeping, and maintenance businesses, it would've solved both the employment and the immigration problems in one sweep. But now we operate under the most severe government interference in the small-business matters (minimum wages, Obamacare tolls, US Treasury restrictions on borrowing, etc.) and the number of illegal immigrants became unmanageable. So, giving such an advice would be adding insult to injury. All I can say is - you are totally fucked, dude!