Quora Banned Me For Saying The Earth Isn’t Flat
August 24, 1989 is a day of infamy for many baseball fans. That is the day Pete Rose was made permanently ineligible from being placed on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. April 23, 2020 was my very own day of infamy. It was the day that I, too, got a lifetime ban — from Quora.
What was the trespass that got me banned? I said that the earth is not flat.
Let’s talk about Quora for a minute
Quora is a question and answer website where anyone can ask a question, and anyone can answer. It monetizes questions, so there is somewhat of an incentive to ask silly and inane questions in a myriad of different variants. Some variants of these Quora questions I have seen are:
● How do you say <term> in <language>? — Hundreds of people have chosen not to check Google Translate first.
● Is <website> a scam? — With billions of domain names, there are lots of questions here.
● Is <any current event> a conspiracy? — It very well could be, if you ask Quora.
● Why do people believe the earth is not flat?
I was more of a passive user with Quora, getting a daily email digest on topics I followed. A few months back, I started replying to the flat earth questions. Why? I don’t know. I couldn’t NOT reply, so I did what I felt I had to do.
The flat earth cabal has grown significantly in the past decade.
Part of their growth is related to the overall skepticism people have in science and government, combined with the fact that there’s money to be made on the topic — especially on YouTube, where flat earth channels tend to have a lot of subscribers. As YouTube (like Quora) monetizes content, the more viewers, the more money flat earthers make.
On YouTube, flat earthers make cute and dramatic videos, often with melodramatic music. They find a scientific quandary, and since they can’t answer it, they chalk it up to NASA being part of a conspiracy to keep the people from knowing that the earth is flat.
I’ll admit, some of my initial responses to flat earthers violated the Quora “be nice, be respectful” principle, which requires that people treat other people on the site with civility, respect, and consideration. I’m all about respecting opposing or differing opinions and beliefs (and even differing conclusions if there’s some evidence to support the conclusion), but it’s difficult to stay true to these principles when some people can’t stay true to science and common sense.
Long story short, I called a few people idiots and a few others morons. I got a warning about that, acknowledged it, and stopped referring to the people who believe the earth is flat as idiots and morons.
After my warning, I was an excellent Quora user. I was courteous, even to people who completely disregard science, and I watched my language. Don’t get me wrong — I still interacted with flat earthers and I still told them they were wrong. I just sought not to violate the Quora Policies and Guidelines as I did it.
But it seems as if my answers angered the flat earthers, no matter how courteous I was.
What seemed to drive them off the edge was when I referenced my own article, where I wrote about the time that flat-earthers mimicked a long-haul flight using a flat earth route, believing that their flight should get there hours before the “round earth” plane.
From a scientific perspective, no flat earther has ever given me a rational response to why it is incorrect. So rather than answer the field of science, they reported my answers as spam.
Peter Tatford suggested that answers such as mine are often flagged by conspiracy theorists who post ridiculous questions and then disagree with the answers they receive. Malicious reporting has been an ongoing problem on Quora, but there’s not much anyone can do except make an appeal and carry on fighting the good fight.
Another person wrote that he has also been harassed by Quora’s moderation team. He writes:
apparently, Quora’s moderation system has gone insane and is now acting like a rabid dog. And just like rabid dogs bite anyone who slightly annoys them, Quora’s moderation system does the same. They’ve collapsed 7 of my answers (for violating the vaguely-defined “be nice, be respectful” policy) and removed eight comments (some of which are just simple comments like “Oh, I didn’t know” or “why do you ask,” which get removed for the same reasons). As a result, I have to answer using anonymity because I can’t risk getting banned from my favorite website for dumb reasons”.
Much of Quora is run by bots, which makes appealing pretty difficult. I did try to appeal and I got a nice, vague, templated response that that I am still banned.
While my answers may have initially violated the “be nice, be respectful” principle, Quora lets flat earthers and other people who are literally wrong have free reign. I guess we won’t be seeing a “be scientific, avoid baseless conspiracy theories” principle anytime soon.
On Friday July 24 — I got this tweet from Quora.
As per their policy, looks like Quora is being nice and respectful.