Quora and a bad user experience

I compulsively sign up for all sorts of stuff I don’t really need. Call it professional curiosity. Yesterday I was talking with a friend and he mentioned quora, a popular Q&A site that I have never really bothered with. So, on a whim I did my thing and signed up. This blog post is about the bad stuff that happened after that. In short the experience was appalling and mildly offensive and illustrative of how some companies just don’t get it.

So, here’s what happened.

I went to their home page. Basically there’s nothing there except a login box and a message stating “Quora connects you to everything you want to know about.”. I thought I had Google for that. Whatever. Despite this shocking lack of information and spectacularly bad marketing, I went ahead and attempted to sign in using the Facebook button. So, I clicked that and did the oauth exchange with Facebook. So far so good. Many sites offer this style of signups with Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites and it is sort of convenient.

After that it showed me a page to create a password. Eh… didn’t I just sign in?! Surely the intent of that was avoiding this. Annoyed, I just went ahead anyway and typed one of my  passwords that I reserve for sites I absolutely don’t care about one bit.

Then I was presented with a page that required me to select five topics out of some huge list. That just sucks. I’m a new user. Don’t force me to make choices like that right away. Since I wasn’t particularly interested in following anything at this point, I just clicked next and got another page with yet more crap to choose from. It just kept insisting I had to follow topics in order to use the site. I declined and closed the tab, which sort of my way of saying fuck you very much and have a nice life. Basically, I had lost all interest in quora at this point. Bad UX and I’m not really convinced I need it to begin with.

It could be I’m missing out on something really great. Whatever. Bad UX causes you to lose users like that. I wasted five minutes of my time and Quora never even got around to explaining what they do. Shit happens.

Then I started getting emails like X is now following you on Quora. Apparently, quora just went ahead and spammed my Facebook friends on my behalf. That’s a definite red flag in my book. There is no way in hell I would give permission to any company to do that.

I just deactivated my account to prevent more damage and because frankly I felt offended. If you got spammed, sorry.

There are a couple of patterns here that I observed with other sites:

  • Signup is needlessly complex. Every extra mouse click loses you customers. Every usability expert knows this. Don’t do this. At this point even having an email signup + password is fairly pointless for most users. Make it optional, if you bother implementing this at all (why would you?).
  • The site is useless without signup. So how am I to decide I want to sign up at all? Give me samples or partial access.
  • The site assumes you want to receive loads of email notifications. Off is a good default for any such notifications except the truly urgent ones. If I didn’t turn shit like this off, my inbox would have hundreds of new messages every morning from all sorts of sites I really don’t care about. Sorry, you are not the most important thing in my life.
  • The site hijacks your Facebook feed to promote itself. No I don’t endorse your shitty site and I certainly don’t want you anywhere near my friends until I’ve had a chance to evaluate what you are about. I clicked the sign in button to sign in, not to give you permission to abuse privileges you sneaked in with that request. If you are going to post to my Facebook feed, make sure I know it is going to happen and have an opportunity to prevent it.

Quora failed on all four points and displayed a level of arrogance and aggressiveness that may or may not have been intended that caused me to de-activate my account right away.

8 thoughts on “Quora and a bad user experience

  1. i too fucking hate quora. sometimes i see it come up as a result on google. i click it. it shows my question, then one shitty answer, and a bunch of fake ass blurs. guess what its blurring out? fucking nothing. sign up and you see the only answer is that one shitty answer from earlier. they’re faking my ass out and i juss wanna kick whoever’s idea that was in the balls. on top of that, they’re juss being fucking desparate. they think the more sign ups they have, the better their service is. sign up should be for, at most, people that want to ask or answer a question. i’m commenting here without signing up. its using a global account like you mentioned with facebook twitter etc. as for email, i choose if i want to do whatever with this blog. no fucking spam.

  2. It’s similar to ResearchGate, another site to be avoided. Both seem to be pointless, and are pointlessly agressive.

  3. Hate to be a ‘me too’, but found this site looking for a way to erase my account after Quora spammed my entire addressbook! — and it didn’t just do it the once — it did it again: “Robert is still waiting for you”

    It makes me sad.
    I may not have even noticed, except it spammed (in my name, (!)) the supposedly super-secret email that auto-posts to Tumblr. Thanks jerks.

    —so yeah, it tumblr’d my real name — which trigger’d Tumblr to tweet about a new post… *****sighs*****
    -r
    PS: Excellent post, thanks.
    -=-

  4. I just stumbled across Quora when looking for an answer through Google. Just to see the answer I had to make an account, give them my Facebook account, give them the rights to MANAGE my contacts, and all kinds of other crap.

    After agreeing to the first screen of unreasonable demands, I was soon presented with yet another screen of permissions that had absolutely nothing to do with what I wanted, namely, to read a single forum question and answer.

    I have never encountered a site like it. I have deactivated my account (it’s buried in privacy if you’re looking) and also emailed privacy@quora.com asking for my account to be deleted, and also making very clear that I was withdrawing all permissions granted, and that they should ensure they do not keep or pass on to anyone else any details about me, and destroy all details they have.

    Unbelievable douchebags.

  5. I too just got suckered into the fucking Quora site. I’ve asked for my account to be deleted. Anyone know where they physically reside because if they don’t delete my account I am personally going round to them and shoving my Quora up their backside.

  6. Quora is a parasite. They just wanted me to sign in using a G+ account, despite the fact that I’m already registered on their site. It smelled fishy to me and reading this blog post and comments I now know what those aggressive assholes are up to. I don’t mind sites trying to make money or collect some data, but some of them are just too invasive. Internet users should put a sign inside their ass saying “if you are reading this message, your head is too far inside my rectum”
    I just want to be able to read you, Quora, you don’t need to ask me all those invasive questions and demand all that information to show me a simple text message.

  7. When I go to Quora.com, I can’t even get to a signin area. All I see is a bright picture of three things I can click on to follow. I tried clicking one just to move on, but nothing happens. I can see the site behind the picture, but it’s all blurred out. I just want to get in so I can delete my account. Anyone else with this issue who successfully deleted their Quora account? Don’t even remember opening this account for that matter!

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