Thanks to Quora, now you can’t read anonymously

Quora co-founders Charlie Cheever & Adam D'Angelo @ Crunchies 2010

Quora, which I believe is one of the most over-hyped startups, has introduced Views on Quora, which essentially shares which users have read each post. This is no different than the passive sharing that has been promoted by Facebook or Path. Now on a closed network like Path, which is based entirely on intimate relationships, I can understand passive sharing. After all, if you have seen my photo or a check-in and I know that, it is okay because you are on my approved list.

However, the kind of sharing Quora is promoting doesn’t jive with me. And neither does it sit well with author Jeff Jarvis, who despite years of advocacy about the benefits of living in public isn’t a fan of this view feature.

While it is understandable for social services to use passive sharing — after all, it quantifies the act of content creation and/or content sharing –but I do feel that anonymous reading has its value.

Quora exec Marc Bodnick tells AllThingsD’s Liz Gannes:

“People on Quora are writing to be read. What we’re telling you is that Quora is a distribution mechanism that works.”

Like many others on the Internet, I too get lured into clicking headlines that are intriguing only to find myself on a list or a news item that only infuriates me. So to see my name associated with that page is disingenuous. Also, if I spent two seconds on a page, does it really count as a “view?”

Liz, who has written about the death of online lurking, wrote in a post last month:

“Passive becomes active. Lean back becomes lean forward. Stalking becomes, well, showing you’re interested in someone.”

In other words, the so-called Quora view that is generated is a false endorsement. What if I have landed on the the post accidentally or have been lured there?  I see this is a curse of Facebook, which has propagated the positive bias syndrome on the web thanks to its Like button. It is not surprising — Quora was started by ex-Facebookers, who like the social-giant itself don’t seem to put real human context around the data signals. (It is not the only bad behavior they have carried over from Facebook.)

How to get rid of Views: Click on your profile icon (top right hand corner) and hit settings in the drop down menu. Find Views (just above Deactivate option) in the right hand column. Click and chose no. Views are turned off.

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