A couple of days ago I received a message from Quora. In it I was accused of spamming rather than answering a question about my favourite or most creative IFTTT recipe (the answer I wrote and Quora’s message to me are available in this note). The first part of my answer was about my favourite recipe – a way of sending notes taken with Siri to Evernote hands free. The second part was the most creative recipe – how to cross post tweets to Google +. Two links were included in my answer. The first was to a blog post that explained how to set up Siri to Evernote note saving, which requires changes to iPhone settings and an IFTTT recipe. The link to the blog post was necessary because the recipe only works with changes to iPhone settings and the answer on Quora was not the place to add that level of detail. The second was to the IFTTT recipe that cross posts tweets via a WordPress blog.
So which of the links did Quora consider to be spam? I suspect it was the first one. Whichever link it was these two points apply:
- The Quora admin said my answer was intended to drive traffic to an external commercial website. My blog is not commercial and I certainly don’t have any commercial interests in the IFTTT website.
- He/she also said that my answer provided little to no value to the Quora community. I find that a strange accusation because in the very short time my answer was visible it got two up votes, including from the person who asked the question!
Let’s now proceed to further analyse this accusation. If the first link was at fault then links to blog posts should be disallowed in other answers. Yet what do we find – even in an answer to the same question? Links to blog posts. Moreover these links are not even explained in some cases, so how can that provide any value to the Quora community? At least my answer incorporated some explanation of why the link was there and a summary of what the blog post was about. See this answer: http://qr.ae/winhZ (answer to same question as mine), and this one: http://qr.ae/wiPdm, and one more: http://qr.ae/wiMxu.
What about the link to the IFTTT recipe? Well those links abound in answers, especially if the question asks for the best/worst IFTTT recipes. Alexander Tibbets included several in one of his answers (http://qr.ae/wisUp). Some of the links are self explanatory but some are vague. So we would have to conclude that without following the links there is little to no benefit to the Quora community. Note also the last link which links to the website for the company he works for, it provides zero benefit to the Quora community and does not answer the question. Personally I have no problem with any part of the answer, but by the standards they have applied to my answer Quora should. Further evidence can be seen in another of his answers: http://qr.ae/wiPsC. So is it because Alexander is a big shot in the tech. world and I am not that there is one standard for me and another for him?
Of course I am more than happy to comply with Quora’s rules about spam. I have responded to the admin clarifying my reasons for the links. Shame that they were so quick to take down my “spam” but slow to respond to my explanation of why it wasn’t spam. I have also reposted my answer with a couple of tweaks – to give more detail of the first IFTTT recipe I was describing. I don’t think that was necessary but my answer was appreciated by two people in its lifetime so I thought it was worth trying to get it back up for others who might find it helpful.
Have you ever been incorrectly accused of spam? If so what did you do about it?