2017-08-31, bis: Statement Translation

I’m yielding and posting my own translation of my farewell post after all, instead of waiting on Dimitra Triantafyllidou.

I’m annotating myself in this. The Turkish, Slavic and Italian loanwords that gave Google Translate so much trouble are daggered. The neologisms that gave Google Translate just as much trouble are asterisked. Explanatory notes in sidebar, including some of the more pungent idioms.

I’ve written you this long-winded post in Romaici, and I’m not translating it.ii That’s my bad habit†.iii For reasons that will soon become obvious, I am tickled by the notion that I’m leaving this to you as a riddle: a riddle that, if you pass it through the Google translate gadget,* my beef-eatersiv, you won’t be able to make head or tails of it.v There’s Romans here, Glory Be To Ya-Rabbi†.vi Someone will turn up to unravel it for you. And if someone doesn’t, I’ve left it as a request to Dimitra.

So, here on Quora, week after week the company springs up some new deviation, some new nuttiness, and everyone is disgruntled. Or rather, those who can be bothered to are disgruntled, which of course is not everybody: the passers-by and those who have gotten comfortable—it’s not on their radar.vii

Those who can be bothered to include myself, the more fool I.viii I did not come to Quora, as I keep saying, with the primary aim of grumbling about how it is managed. I came to write different things, and fortunately I got to write them too. But unfortunately I have a hypertrophied sense of social duty, and I have taken on here without realising it publicising and criticising things that are awry, as a service to my fellow users.* A service and, at times, truth be told, a chore. It’s not like there’s any shortage of things awry.

So, every time a new nuttiness springs up, to be heaped alongside all the preexisting nuttiness, of moderation, design, engineering, the self-proclaimed informants, advertisers, virtue signallers,*, the arrogant and the brainless, certain users jump up and say, like other Ciceros to other Catilines, “How long will we keep putting up with all this? When will we finally get to the point of no return?”ix

The absurd application of BNBR against the Necrologue three days ago* was for me the point of no return I was waiting for. As it was for Zeibura Kathau as well.

I mean, yes, it was increasingly a chore for me, if not a pathology, to sit and answer A2As for hours, and abandon reading any other website (let alone book†). It was not a waste,† no, I remain proud of my writings. But I confess, things had gotten to the point that I had to reduce my participation significantly, anyway.

But a few months ago, in an attempt to exercise my criticism in a more balanced fashion, I recorded a video on why I remain on Quora, and haven’t sodded off to Medium like so many are already saying they’ll do.

And it turned out that, all the positive things motivate me to stay here, I could do on Medium just fine.x With the exception of the good company here, the community of Quora obsessives.* And in contrast with how Quora management deals with them, they are not fungible consumables: they are my friends and fellows, and I feel tremendous guilt in abandoning them. And about my wretched service, of course, that I’ve convinced myself I owe them.

Well if I’m going to be struck down for naively trying to help my fellow users with accurate information, I got the message. I’ve stayed and put up with enough. I do have some self-respect left.

Wee robot with the machete†, thou hast defeated me.xi

All that remains is to farewell those dear to me, to scorn those odious to me, and to take care of any loose threads.

Negatives first. I feel like using the opportunity to curse up a stormxii, and tell gangs of snitches†* and the deluded to go to hell; but I’ll watch my words, because I’ll be the one that comes out looking like a jerk, not them.

But I will name names. I have not been able to work out Tatiana Estevez while she had a voice here in public. But I’ve drawn my conclusion from Scott Welch (as I have drawn so much else): she’s just a Quora employee. For years she has been doing more for my fellow users than what her colleagues have been doing, the bots and the nickle-and-dime* contractors; but in the end, she is not part of the solution.

Nor have I any issue with the other employees. I’ve had pleasant exchanges,† for instance, with Dimitri Genzel and Shouchen Huang. I have had poor regardxiii with Quora designers for a while, but in the final analysis (and I have published that analysis), they are following a line that others have drawn for them.

I don’t even feel like speaking ill of Marc Bodnick (and he’s not getting out† of our wager). I find him to be a bully† with no particular understanding of what Quora is about; but this is just ill talk,xiv that’s not the issue. I’ll let it go.xv

Though they don’t turn up here often,* in contrast to Marc, my impression is that there is more responsibility for things awry weighing on Jonathan Brill and Jay Wacker, as those responsible respectively for user relations (all users, Jono, not just the quill-bearers*), and policy development. But like I said: the buck stops somewhere else. The policy line comes from Adam the hoodie-wearer,xvi however indifferent he seems to be to it.

So much for them. They’re doing business,† with all the absurdities of Business Silicon Valley style. They’re in their own reality,xvii and their world is irrelevant with me and mine. They are an impediment, but they are not an enemy. And if I’ve expressed disagreement with a few regulars about exactly how awry things are here, that has certainly not made them my enemies. I’ve certainly disagreed at times with Achilleas Vortselas, or Konstantinos Konstantinides, or Edward Conway, or even Christopher Van Lang; but I have retained my respect towards them, because I never encountered contempt from them.

It’s others that I’ve got it in for. But Godspeed to them as well. For the old-timersxviii who have honoured me by blocking me, Erica Friedman, Eric Lauritzen, Kathleen Grace, and recently Dan Rosenthal—I leave them with Smirnenski’s Ladder.xix And its dedication: “For all those who will say: that’s nothing to do with me!”

But I will pause at another old-timer. Even now I will not name him, but I am soon escaping the suffocating overshadowing* of BNBR. I’ll call him GS here.

GS must have been surprised when he discovered that I block him; in contrast with the other old-timer quill-bearers, I never had a clash with him; I don’t think we ever even exchanged words.

But GS left a comment on a post of Tatiana’s, on an entirely unrelated occasion, which I continue to regard as despicable. He said that Tatiana was much more polite than he would be, because in her shoes he’d tell whoever complains about moderation,

“Moderation has the power. The rest of you do not. We are judge, jury and executioner. So please, with sugar† on top, shut the fuck up. You don’t get a say, and your words are pointless.”

No beneficiary of the tribunal of the marshals† is going to tell me to shut up when I see injustice, or that criticising unaccountable power is pointless. Nor should you allow any old-timer to tell you that you don’t get a say. Fine, they’re old-timer recruits, but this is a Q&A site, for Christ’s sake, it’s not a barracks.

And now to my friends.

It’s a bitter irony that I’ve just read my fellow elder* the Magister† saying that it’s only the good people on the site that keeps him here, now that I’m abandoning those same good people.

Some months ago, Andrew Wang (and I know what he got up to) remarked to me that whoever he started following, he’d find a few days later on the Necrologue. Yesterday I found an ominous comment on the Necrologue, by a user I admit I do not know, that a lot of Nick’s friends end up on the Necrologue.

With my “I love youse guys” cartoons I recorded 60 users that I have had particular regard of over the past two years. 26 had or got the Quill.

9 have left, or were made to leave.xx

So should I join their ranks, just in case that will end the plague? But of course, that’s not how it ends.

So be it. What counts are the friendships. How indebted I am to the friendships I’ve made here, I know full well. I have met fellow human beings who have stood by me and felt for me. Dimitra, the Magister, Sam, Trace, Jennifer: friends for life. Friends I owe my life to. And friends I don’t want to lose now.

Not just individuals, but subsets. The Albanians and Turks and Azeris, who have taught me so much about Greekdom. The linguistics nuts* and Classics nuts* and Literature nuts,* who I have considered colleagues and peers. The Greeks and Australians who have embraced me. And all the others I have encountered on my path and bantered with.

And towards the end, my constant companions ended up being the disgruntled and the anti-disgruntled,* of the Insurgency and the Necrologue. I’ve learned much from them, too; and I have felt responsibility towards them.

The most decent† thing to do, when slamming work down and quitting Quora, is what Zeibura is already doing: delete my account, and not permit Molochxxi to profit from my labour in my absence. I hesitated, and in the end, I won’t do it. First because I feel pity for all the comments from so many I’ve chatted† with. And moreover, because I want the newbiexxii recruits, who suspect something is up in the State of Denmark, to find edifying material here still.

Though I see that searches for my contributions are falling over lately…

I will leave a more extensive testament at Medium for the regulars of the Insurgency (which I will leave Jennifer Edeburn to run†), but let me say the most important bit here to the dissenters. The struggle continues, and you’re the ones who will continue it. I am neither your leader, nor your frontman, and I’m neither the first nor the last to have realised that there’s something fishy about the State of Denmark. But I ask that you continue the struggle the way I finally understood it. Not in the hope that something will change, but only to keep a clear conscience.xxiii Not crying havoc and letting loose the dogs of war,xxiv but in a spirit of criticism and self-criticism, with judgement and insight, and with the recognition that Quora has its own reasons for doing what it does, and neglecting what it does. And those reasons, as ridiculous as you may decide they are, deserve study and investigation, and they are reasons grounded in neither empathy nor antipathy.xxv

I’m deactivating my account, though I’ll be coming by now and then to pick up my mail. I will probably not be writing comments, so I don’t get tempted. I ask those of you who want to stay in touch to mail me or message me on Facebook. I don’t know if Medium will be the most suitable place for me to set up shop, but I’ll try it out. I am uploading my content to my website Nick Nicholas, and I will load all significant answers and posts to Medium. The large number of A2As had ended up suffocating, but I will miss them, and if you want to forward me one from time to time for me to answer at Medium, that’s fine. Even if you repost my answer back at Quora…

For two years Quora was the brightest spot of my life. Word of honour. Now that it is getting tainted, I am oppressed by a certain sadness. How could I not be? To the point that, perhaps somewhat sacrilegiously, certainly somewhat hubristically, I’m reminded of Sarah’s lament about Isaac:xxvi

I’ll say I never gave him birth, nor saw him.
I held a candle lit. And it went out.

But I leave with another tune in my head. A more constructive one.

stixoi.info: Ο γυάλινος κόσμος, World made of Glass. 1960. Verses: Eftychia Papagiannopoulou. Music: Apostolos Kaldaras.

Who’ll give me strength
to change this world,
to build beautiful hearts,
big hearts and compassionate,
and get rid of the marred ones?

I’ll punch you and smash you,
oh world made of glass,
and I’ll build a new,
a different society.

I bid you farewell. I hope we stay in touch, guys. It’d be a pity not to.

I bid you farewell.

20 thoughts on “2017-08-31, bis: Statement Translation”

  1. I’m glad you decided to go ahead and translate your post Nick. Even knowing the underlying context, it would have been impossible to convey the same meanings in English without loosing some of the subtext; or at least as you’ve shown, impossible to do this without a shed-load of footnotes.

    I got the cultural references just fine, apart from the robot which I thought was Justinian beating Solomon, not Jesus beating Julian (By the way, it’s “Nazarene”, not “Galilean”). I’ve also loved how you’ve integrated any Anglosaxon references that Greeks are familiar with, like the Shakespearean “State of Denmark”.

    P.S. The best part of your translation was translating the awesome lyrics of Eftychia.

    1. Nazarene vs Galilaean: I’ve heard both. 🙂 If Solomon’s Temple is Quora, I doubt Hellenisteukontos (which I’ll likely revive) will be Hagia Sophia. Then again, maybe it will be for Greek linguistics matters. I just keep remembering that Maxim Kisilier is on Quora, and he’s actually a paid expert on Tsakonian.

      The lyrics: Thank you so much! I didn’t move on to “who’ll put some trustworthiness into a woman’s heart”—an unfortunate thing for a woman to write, even if it was 1960. But it’s the right sentiment. And I don’t know that I’ve done it justice.

      Να ’σαι πάντα καλά, Βαγγέλη.

      1. Nazarene vs Galilaean: you’re right. For some reason you don’t hear Jesus being called a Galilaean any more (in Greek) even though Nazareth was in Galilea.

        Julian vs Justinian: in my initially flawed understanding of the reference, you were Solomon, not Justinian. You can be Julian if you like bad-ass epithets, or you can be someone like Isidore and design a flawed Wonder of the World that still stands, when the “Temple of Solomon” has been burnt down.

        The lyrics: Oh, you’ve certainly done them justice, if you don’t believe me just check out the English translation on stixoi.info. Even translating “σκαρτος” inaccurately as “marred” was worth it as it let the lyrics retain their poetic element.

        P.S. You must watch “As perimenoun oi gynaikes” and hopefully review it somewhere

  2. I nearly left Quora after that gloating post of Tatiana’s which you refer to – I asked her to be more specific than just “violating policy”, and if I could read the policy which detailed what we were not allowed to express on Quora and she just deleted the comment. Writer relations my arse.

    Life without Quora feels quite good so far, btw!

  3. I am sorry to see you go, for all of those who will not be able to experience your humor and deep insights. Yet as one who knows the wisdom, and necessity, of saying goodbye sometimes, I respect your decision, and wish you well.

    Know that my door and email is always open to you and yours, and if you should find a home or new place where you set down roots, please let me know so I can come play in the branches. Until then, the old words are the best:

    May He bless and keep you always
    May your wishes all come true
    May you always do for others
    And let others do for you
    May you build a ladder to the stars
    And climb on every rung
    May you stay forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young.

    May you grow up to be righteous
    May you grow up to be true
    May you always know the truth
    And see the lights surrounding you
    May you always be courageous
    Stand upright and be strong
    May you stay forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young.

    May your hands always be busy
    May your feet always be swift
    May you have a strong foundation
    When the winds of changes shift
    May your heart always be joyful
    And may your song always be sung
    May you stay forever young
    Forever young, forever young
    May you stay forever young.

    Farewell, my friend, and may a choir of angels sing you onward on your journey.

    1. > Farewell, my friend, and may a choir of angels sing you onward on your journey.

      Not dead yet, Edward! 🙂 It’ll be hellenisteukontos, though I may migrate that blog to my own site. Have to decide whether to keep it strictly linguistics, or all-purpose with good topic segregation.

      I’m on Medium, but lamentably the discourse there seems much dumber than Quora.

  4. As for me, I found this post by Tatiana extremely offensive, let alone GS’s comment. Same old story, indeed, but not exactly the way she meant it…

  5. Thanks for the translation (I’d managed to fumble my way to an approximation of your meaning with Google translate, but it got quite hilariously lost in various places :-)).

    Anyway, your departure made me realise that it’s high time I sought out new pastures myself (I can no longer ignore the weird sense of self-loathing I was feeling each time I signed into Quora, studiously trying to ignore the unignorable re the company’s actual mission these days, and the way that plays out in the way the company treats its community of users).

    I finally deactivated my account last night and am now adjusting into my new Quora-less existence. With hindsight, I should probably have done this ages ago !

  6. I’m pissed you left.
    And I feel a bit bad I never really explained my position towards Quora on the Insurgency.
    Leaving it with Jennifer was a very good decision, though.
    No, I’m not comfortable.
    It’s just I don’t want to engage in a battle where there isn’t a territory to win.
    You are missed.

  7. Having a difficult few days here, Nick. I hope you’ll be checking these replies for awhile, as I hope to craft something worthwhile as I surface above the water I’m dog-paddling in. All the best, Wayne

  8. NN, you’ve been much more polite than I have been on my blog. I want to do my part in shining a light on the despicable policies of that site. They’ve guarded the front door while the barbarians ran in the back and tore up the place. I hope Quora sinks without a trace and Tatiana with it.
    I’ll be seeing you…

  9. If you want to keep your answers for the comments but also don’t want Quora to profit from them, you could delete all the content and just include a link to the answer on this blog. That way, you profit from Quora’s SEO.

    I’ll miss you on Quora, Nick. I’m not that active on Medium but I’ll hop in from time to time for you.

    1. I won’t delete my content, but I will revive my old blogs, and post all the good stuff from Quora there. I’ll let people know when that’s happened.

      And thank *you* for your friendship and our exchanges, Khateeb. We will stay in touch.

  10. Nick,

    May I add you on Facebook?

    I’m sad to see you go from Quora, of course, but I still have an A2A from you I’ve yet to finish (and posts on the Insurgency). Do come back to read that, would you?

    …Well, you’re not truly gone, considering I have this site bookmarked.

    Nancy and I may also potentially be working on an alternative to Quora. Medium has its issues, too, with design, and I must say I like it less. But if your content is there I may have to read it more often.

    1. Add me on Facebook: Of course you may. I’ll be popping in to Quora, I dunno, weekly.

      I now think I’ll be reviving my personal blogs, though I’ll be hanging out with Quorans in Exile on Medium. Medium is dumber than Quora, and that was a sobering realisation.

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