Should Quora allow people to edit anonymously

The Quora website launched two years ago, collating questions-and-answers on a variety of topics and receiving favourablewrite-ups in the media.

It’s possible that you were one of the early sign-ups to the service, investigating whether you would find it useful, and don’t visit the site much very often. Or you could be one of the die-hard Quora lovers who still gets value out of the site’s community.

But there’s something that all Quora users should know.

Earlier this month, Quora made a decision which changes your privacy on the site. And they did it without asking your permission first.

They decided to introduce “Views” – functionality which creepily reveals to others the articles you have been reading.

In a trick presumably learnt from a chorus of other uncaring social networking sites, Quora has left it up to the user to turn off the “Views” feature (opt-out) rather than the much more privacy-friendly alternative of asking users to opt-in if they really want others to see what articles they have read.

As we’ve said many times before – if a feature really is a huge benefit to the user, why do websites have so little confidence that they can encourage users to opt-in rather than thinking it’s alright to reduce privacy without asking first?

Now, you may think – why would I care if people can see what questions I have read on Quora?

Well, here’s a few examples of the kind of things you could have read:

Still comfortable?

Sandra Liu Huang, a product manager at Quora, tried to justify why the site enabled the “Views” feature by default in a CNET interview:

If you don’t like the idea of other people seeing what you are reading you have two options:

1) You can change your Quora account settings, by visiting Profile/Settings/Views and choosing “No”. (This is the option that Quora enabled without asking your permission)

2) Another option, of course, is to delete your account. Quora helpfully provides a Q&A about how to delete your Quora account.

At the time of writing, over 1800 people have read the deletion article.

What do you think about this new feature of Quora?

Was there a better way for Quora to introduce the technology?

Should people be concerned that it was turned on by default, or are we living in the dark ages by being worried about this kind of thing?

Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.