What Being Forced To Be “Nice” and “Respectful” (a.k.a a pushover) Taught Me
While I was writing on Quora, there was a very controversial implementation of something called BNBR — Be Nice, Be Respectful. It is Quora’s most actively enforced rule, and it is the best and worst part of the site.
BNBR prevents cyberbullying, to an extent. If someone is bothering you, you report them and block them and moderation may or may not deal with it. As you get more popular, you have to be more careful about following BNBR. Obscure writers can get away with very few violations, because no one cares about them unless they start gaining traction and therefore their stuff is ignored, but the popular writers get them whenever they mildly violate the policy at any moment, whether in a comment, message, post, or answer. Popular writers tend to have hundreds and often thousands of comments and answers (I had 2,000 answers and about 15–30,000 comments at the time of my ban), and each of those can be a violation. The policy is so messy that sometimes you’ll get multiple violations on the exact same thing, which really shouldn’t happen. So, you can get a violation on 0.01% of your stuff and then get banned (which is what happened to me).
You’re unable to make a new account once you’ve already made one (it’s called sockpuppetting and you can get both accounts banned for it), but once someone gets banned, assuming they want to come back, they have nothing to lose if they simply sign up for a new account. Their old account has been banned, and the worst thing Quora can do is ban the new account — and then they’ll just make another. Not that it’s an inviting option to go back to Quora at this point— this “sockpuppetting” and obsession with BNBR is turning Quora into a cesspool of crap and spam, especially considering they’re systematically banning all of their best users.
This creates a strange system where only the most belligerent obscure users get banned (and then they come back under new accounts), and popular writers have to dance around these obscure users if they want to stay on the site, because they’ve invested too much time into their account to easily make another. These obscure users often bait a popular user into stepping a toe out of line and then get all of their friends to report them, just for fun. They don’t have to worry about…