Quora To Oddly-Named Users: Papers Please

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In November 2010, a young man created a Quora account. A few weeks later, his account was blocked. Why? Because he had to use a real first and last name and his real name is “Hasan Hasan.”

After all, unless you’re Cher or Sirhan Sirhan, nobody has the same first and last name. After a bit of back and forth, the jack-booted Quora admin in charge of the names division requested that poor H. Hasan supply a “scan of a government ID” in order to prove that he wasn’t a troll. That’s where H.H. left it, writing:

The effort to dig up a government ID, redact non-name info, and track down a scanner is a significant barrier to sign-up but nonetheless it would not be an unreasonable request if you required this from all your users otherwise this seems nothing more than ignorant and flawed discrimination.

To be fair, while it is fairly common to use the same last and first name in some cultures, as evidenced by this quick search of LinkedIn, I’m sure there are very few foreigners in Palo Alto, where Quora is based, so clearly these cultural nuances are lost on the admins. And it gets better!

Hearken to the tale of poor Ken Ryu, an actual person whose parents apparently loved Capcom so much they named him after both Karate characters in Street Fighter. He, also, had to supply a government issued ID to Quora in order to use the service and has still not been reactivated after refusing to show ID in order to use a site approximately as useful to the world as Yahoo! Answers.

While I’m all for reducing the level of trolling on any social forum (and I do my fair share on Quora, changing my profession from Pornographer to Tiny Dancer without issue and offering silly answers to the earnest, naive questions posed by folks looking to build up their social media credentials), I think Quora’s ridiculous, birther-ist requirements for a “government-issued ID” are a little bit rough, as if the Socialist Republic of Quora was some failed post-Soviet state intent on maintaining a thriving bureaucracy.

Sadly, this policy hasn’t changed in months and poor Ken “Hadooooken” Ryu’s and H^2′s accounts are still deactivated. There is some discussion of the trend here, to read it you would have to go to Quora and if your name is Gordon Freeman or Vang Vang, you probably wouldn’t be able to make an account. Rest assured that poor Hasan++ and Ken will probably be reactivated after this post, but how many more people are trapped by Quora’s Kafka-esque policies?

ID confirmation is a hard job but jeez, Quora, it’s not like you guys are curing cancer over there. Anyone else run up against the Iron Quortin recently?

Here’s Hasan Hasan’s conversation with the Quora admins:

Conversation with Quora Admin

Nov 27, 2010Quora Admin
Hello,

One of the rules of Quora is that everyone uses his or her real full name. Do you mind changing your name to reflect that?

If this is a mistake and you are already using your real name, just reply to this message letting us know that.

You can change your name here:
Edit Profile Name

And you can find more details here:
Do I have to use my real name on Quora? Can businesses or organizations have a user account?

Thanks!

Jan 15, 2011Hasan Hasan
Hi, this is my real name.

Feb 7, 2011Hasan Hasan
Why is my account still blocked? I replied to Quora Admin email confirming my real name 3 weeks ago!

Feb 8, 2011Quora Admin
Hi,

Most people don’t have the same first and last name. Could you please send a scan of a government ID to moderation@quora.com to confirm that this is your real name? Please feel free to redact all non-name information.

Thanks,
Quora Admins

1:48pmHasan Hasan
Dear Quora Admin (do you have a real name?!),

Thanks for getting back to me.

While I do appreciate that having the same first and last name is uncommon in English-language culture, I would respectfully point-out that this is not as uncommon in Arabic culture – myself being of Arabic descent. See example below:

http://www1.imperial.ac.uk/medic…

http://www.ahmedr.com/aboutmypra…

I feel the fact that I don’t have access to a scanner is irrelevant in this context. I understand and appreciate your requirement for users to use real names but unless you are asking all your users to provide documentary evidence how can I (or others) be confident that other users are using genuine names also?

Your reason for querying the authenticity of my name seem arbitrary and unfair. Discriminating against non-familiar names begs the question: non-familiar to who? Would you have questioned me had I used a fake but common English name? If you intend to attract a global community of users you will have to reconsider this approach.

The effort to dig up a government ID, redact non-name info, and track down a scanner is a significant barrier to sign-up but nonetheless it would not be an unreasonable request if you required this from all your users otherwise this seems nothing more than ignorant and flawed discrimination.

I’d also like to add that in your initial request for verification dated 27 Nov 2010 you asked simply that I ”reply to let you know” my name is real – you made no mention of any further requisites. Instead, you ignored me for three weeks until I followed up the matter on 08 Feb 2011.

With respect to the foregoing, I would appreciate if you unblock my account with immediate effect.

Thanks,
Hasan Hasan

img via Zazzle

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