The Collapsing Debate on Quora

There’s a question going on Quora, that every user has asked and answered. It’s a collapsing question, with only one answer “allowed” to win out. It’s a question we’re being asked everywhere on the internet:

Who are you?

My first question Quora was:
What Made Quora Go Viral?

For this all important question, I received two answers:
“SCOBLE! thats how i heard about it anways. Then TechCrunch”
and
“Whilst Quora has been in around since 2009 I believe, it was a TechCrunch story in December 2010 where, I recall, it was stated that Quora was used for sourcing story leads. This led to a lot of noise on Twitter which increased audience exponentially and that noise has continued to date…”

To my dismay, the very good second answer collapsed.
My first thought was proponents of the competing answer had collapsed it, so I tweeted Robert Scoble, “one of your minions collapsed an answer to my question!”

I tried voting back up the answer. No dice. So I wrote to Quora about how to uncollapse the answer. I received this answer:

This answer has been collapsed because it was written by a user with an unverified name. By Quora policy, all users must use their real names, and when people violate that policy, their answers are hidden. More information can be found in this policy question: http://www.quora.com/Do-I-have-to-use-my-real-name-on-Quora-Can-businesses-or-organizations-have-a-user-account

The person who wrote the answer on Quora, Kay Hammond: http://www.quora.com/Kay-Hammond. She had been using “TAMBA”, her Quora profile merges with her company, of which she is CEO, and most likely sole proprietor. Her Quora bio:
We are an award-winning viral advertising, digital communications and social media
marketing agency in London & Staffordshire.

Who are you? I’m every social media start-ups favorite: A shameless joiner, clearly identifiable, easy evangelized and perfectly marketable. So Who Is Kay Hammond? Her LinkedIn profile http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/kay-hammond/0/376/abb. Her public LinkedIn profile doesn’t list her working anywhere but TAMBA, her privately held agency. When its getting increasingly harder to separate our personal and professional lives, when work becomes who we are, when you can’t say “Facebook” without Mark, or God help them, “Apple” without “Steve Jobs”, who are we? Are we not what we create?

But Quora doesn’t want TAMBA’s personal information. Quora wants Kay Hammond’s personal info. I wrote back to Quora about reinstating the answer. (I just don’t know when to give up you know?) I didn’t receive an email, but the question was uncollapsed, with this comment:

This is the name verification link I had originally received from Craig Montuori via his email:
If you are ever uncomfortable about associating your identity with a particular question, you can become anonymous for that question. Learn more.
If Quora moderation believes that a user is not using her real name, the user may be asked to provide supporting evidence including an electronic copy of supporting documentation (e.g., a driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, etc.) with personally identifiable information (other than name) removed.
Quora users must be individuals, not companies or organizations.
Titles, such as “Dr.” and “Ms.”, may not be used in a Quora name; instead, information about degrees (e.g., “M.D.”, or “PhD.”) may be included in the user headline that appears below your name, or elsewhere in your profile.

So if American Chemical Society, the Obama Administration, or say your local coffeeshop wanted to answer a question on Quora, they’d have to pick a spokesperson to be the name. Because those societies can be so unreliable.

We are however, able to sign up for Quora via Twitter and Facebook. Facebook is trusted because it doesn’t allow users to have more than one account. (Cough, cough) Twitter however? I currently get about 25 Twitter “followers” a day who disappear by the next day. Fake accounts. Take a look at your new followers, the “Women of Twitter” or the “Cats of Twitter”. Who are they? All the KOLs on Quora couldn’t answer that.

Back to the official answer on Quora about using real names: It’s LOCKED. Now, just for fun, let’s take a look at which answers Quora decided to collapse:
Since we can only login using twitter/facebook accounts, I’d suggest Quora use information on those account. Using real name here will force user to bind information to there facebook/twitter which isn’t what they want.
And for people from non-English-native country, the “English full name” dosn’t mean “Real name”. I dont think you should enforce this rule since it’s not valid from the begining.

There is more than one Jeff Altman in what I do professionally. I do not like others to gain credit for my work (as they have before). I have a registered trademark, “The Big Game Hunter,” that I use it to separate myself from the others and it makes it obvious that I am a head hunter.
And, yes, my name is Jeff Altman.
I also say people using taglines . . . the man from Benchmark; the Facebook Talent Acquisition person. It would seem like others have been permitted.
Respectfully,
Jeff
(voted up, but still collapsed by Quora)

Other answers that collapsed had the comment underneath them, like, “I think this should be asked as a follow-up question, rather than a stand-alone answer”, by Quora founder Charlie Cheever. He was responding to a comment by a user who said “I think my first name and the first letter of my last name should be enough.” Her comment had been voted up once and commented on “I agree”, before it was collapsed.

I wrote to Ari, the commenter who had reinstated Kay Hammond’s answer to my question and asked for more clarification about how her account needed to verified. I also sent him a link to her LinkedIn profile, with a picture to confirm her identity. He answered she had been using “TAMBA” not Kay Holland.

My last comment:
Isn’t Quora about getting the right answer? “Jsmeeker” Yahoo’s best answerer stayed completely anonymous helping thousands of people. As I wait for the response of Quora’s going about confirming our identities for us, my questions to you: “Who Are You?”…and who do you want to know?

Foot Notes:
Every thought we’ve ever had, someone has thought before.”
David Armano, of Edelman, was also blogging about this today:
Here.
And Jeremiah Owyang, of Altimeter:
Here.
Brian Solis also blogged about it, but despite being my favorite blogger, his post really didn’t add any new perspectives on the issue of companies being able to represent themselves. (Sorry Brian.)

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