Over the past few years, I’ve written a few articles on what it’s like to promote a new business.  Launching a new business is a lot like finding that first relevant job: everyone wants you to have experience, but you just started, so you’re doing the best you can with what little you have.

My frustration came to a head this week when I received the following email from Quora:

Several of your answers on Quora have been self-promotional and have violated our policy on such content. Self-promotional content isn’t allowed on Quora, please see Quora Policies & Guidelines: What is Quora’s policy on self-promoting answers and questions?

Please refrain from violating this policy in the future.

Okay, a little background here (and for you skeptics, feel free to look up my account under “Deborah Fike” on Quora).  I love writing on external sites, even when I’m not promoting my business, as evidenced by my blogging history.  I got caught up in the Quora wave of answering questions, and since I’m a project manager by trade, I naturally ended up in those sections.  If someone asked about using a collaboration tool, yes, I would put Fellowstream on the list.  But I also answered questions about design in small business, the future of collaboration, and a host of other things that had nothing to do with Fellowstream.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter that I’m just acting like I do everywhere on the ‘net.  Someone looked past all the other stuff I posted, saw me as a spammer, and an admin told me to knock it off.

We could live in a world of “play pretend” where we are told information is free and available, but only if we erase our personalities.  Unfortunately for these sites, we’re people.  Some people will game the system, but others will talk about what they’re passionate about, whether that be about video games, software development, or heaven forbid, our own business.

I’m disappointed in Quora’s policy because it penalizes people who are honest about their biases.  Other marketers, I’m sure, will go online and start posting under a pseudonym, pretending to be an unbiased person but still promoting their businesses.  People like me, who answer all sorts of questions and only bring up our biases with full disclosure and when it is relevant to the question at hand, are asked to be quiet or get off the site.

I’m not sure what to do about Quora.  Without a doubt, I enjoy the community there, but it gives me pause that their system encourages people to hide information before posting.  What’s wrong with proper disclosure?  And why are we pretending that we don’t have any bias?

-Deborah Fike

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