My Quora answers


My main contributions to Quora are through my questions, but I don’t think my answers are especially bad, so here they are.

Reverse chronological order

How do I cope with losing a long-time friend who I love?


It’s unprofessional of them to refuse communication, but there isn’t anything you can do about that. Their refusal to communicate is a sign that you shouldn’t bother with them. In general, I find loneliness preferable to interaction with unprofessional, immoral, uninteresting, or otherwise unfit people. Finding the right people is difficult, but until then, grit your teeth and march on. The sooner your learn this, the better.

See also Raman Shah’s answer to What are the most difficult things people have to learn in their 20s?:

How little most former friends, significant others, bosses, students, and colleagues care about you once they’ve gotten what they want. Conversely, how precious the few people are who still care once you can’t give them anything.

Also, although the situation here doesn’t directly mirror what Caplan describes in “The Futility of Quarreling When There Is No Surplus to Divide”, read that post and in particular this quote:

The only way out is to calm down and admit that bad matches aren’t anyone’s fault. When two people want incompatible things, they should politely say goodbye and move on with their lives.

One year on, how has Cognito Mentoring benefited you?


[This answer is mostly a quote from my Cognito Mentoring page, so it’s easier just to look at that. If you’re curious about how the page was when I quoted it in the answer, have a look at the exact commit.]


I don’t think so. I think I’ve asked a lot of the questions about Vipul, but I do this for some others like Alex K. Chen and Andrew Ho as well. See also You’re Calling *Who* A Cult Leader?

What are some good questions that could be asked on Quora for any animal species?


Some others:

Why has LinkedIn had substantially greater success and impact than OKCupid?


I think it’s helpful to consider (1) whether the business-oriented nature of LinkedIn has given it an edge over OKCupid, a dating site; and (2) if there is anything specifically LinkedIn has been doing right that OKCupid hasn’t.

It’s not too hard to find evidence that online dating has a lot of stigma attached to it. Here is just one article on the topic: Online dating still stigmatized despite popularity, success.

Online dating still stigmatized despite popularity, success. In general, social networking sites tend to have many more users and much higher Alexa rankings than dating sites (see List of social networking websites and Comparison of online dating websites). If we restrict the social networking sites to just business-oriented sites, then we find that LinkedIn has 300 million users (2013), Viadeo has 55 million users (2013), and XING about 11 million users. In contrast, some of the more popular online dating-focused sites like Badoo,, and Zoosk have as many as 197 million (2013), 96 million (2010), and 50 million users (2011), respectively. So the numbers seem rather comparable, which means LinkedIn may just be particularly good, and OKCupid, with only 5.6 million active users (2010), may just be particularly bad, in this respect. (Though note here that OKCupid is the only site reporting in terms of active users, and not registered users. I’m also not an expert on the other dating sites so I can’t say if OKCupid is doing something wrong.)

Other heuristics besides the stigma that one might come up with:

How did you discover Cognito Mentoring?


I saw Jonah’s original post on Less Wrong. I was a bit scared to contact them on my own so I had a friend also contact them.

Who is interested in a December 2014 Quora meetup in Seattle?


Sure, I’d be interested.

What does Issa Rice think of Andrew J. Ho’s recent questions as of 4 November 2014?


I find them all to be very amusing. What is it like to secretly mix in small amounts of your own blood with cookie dough that you intend on baking into cookies for your significant other? in particular seems especially creative, and is giving me ideas about other questions I could ask.

I can never tell whether your relationship questions are completely serious or a deliberate attempt to be humorous and mocking of similar Quora questions.

Your Asian-American questions are also highly relevant to my own situation so I appreciate you asking those.

What would Noam Chomsky think of unschooling?


Chomsky hated high school, so presumably his opinion of unschooling is more positive (though it’s not quite clear what type of education he considers ideal; I suppose that he will in general support any education system that promotes creative thinking, which includes the Deweyite school he attended, which is mentioned in the quotes below). Some quotes will illustrate his thinking (all emphasis mine):

I had friends but I hated high school. […] My parents worked, so from about 18 months I’ve been in school. But up until 8th  grade I was in an experimental school run by Temple University.  Progressive school, and that was great. But in high school I had to go  to an actual ‘high school’. There was one academic high school were I  was, one for boys, one for girls, and it was very rigid. For the  teachers it was a dream because the kids there wanted to go to college,  so the teachers could sit back and relax. But it was very rigid, you  know, tests, grades. I had never had grades before, never knew I was a  good student, nothing. And it was a bore. It was a black hole.

(From The Secret of Noam: A Chomsky Interview)

There are huge efforts that do go into making people, to borrow Adam Smith’s phrase, “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.” A lot of the educational system is designed for that, if you think about it, it’s designed for obedience and passivity. From childhood, a lot of it is designed to prevent people from being independent and creative. If you’re independent-minded in school, you’re probably going to get into trouble very early on. That’s not the trait that’s being preferred or cultivated.

(From Education is Ignorance)

For example, it wasn’t until I was in high school that I knew I was a good student. The question had never arisen. I was very surprised when I got into high school and discovered that I was getting all A’s and that was supposed to be a big deal. That question had never arisen in my entire education. In fact, every student in the school I had previously attended was regarded as somehow being a very successful student. There was no sense of competition, no ranking of students. It was never anything even to think about. It just never came up that there was a question of how you were ranked relative to other students. Well, anyway, at this particular school, which was essentially a Deweyite school and I think a very good one, judging from my experience, there was a tremendous premium on personal creativity, not in the sense of slapping paints on paper, but doing the kind of work and thinking that you were interested in. Interests were encouraged and children were encouraged to pursue their interests. They worked jointly with others or by themselves. It was a lively atmosphere, and the sense was that everyone was doing something important.


Well, then I got to high school, the academic high school in the public school system, which was supposed to be a very good high school, and it was a real shocker. For one thing, as I said, there was  the shock of discovering that I was a good student, which had never occurred to me before. And then there was the whole system of prestige and value that went along with that. And the intense competitiveness and regimentation. In fact, I can remember a lot about elementary school, the work I did, what I studied and so on. I remember virtually nothing about high school. It’s almost an absolute blank in my memory  apart from the emotional tone, which was quite negative.

If I think back about my experience, there’s a dark spot there.  That’s what schooling generally is, I suppose. It’s a period of  regimentation and control, part of which involves direct indoctrination, providing a system of false beliefs. But more importantly, I think, is the manner and style of preventing and blocking independent and creative thinking and imposing hierarchies and competitiveness and the need to excel, not in the sense of doing as well as you can, but doing better than the next person. Schools vary, of course, but I think that those features are commonplace. I know that they’re not necessary, because, for example, the school I went to as a child wasn’t like that at all.

I think schools could be run quite differently. That would be very important, but I really don’t think that any society based on authoritarian hierarchic institutions would tolerate such a school system for long. As Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis have pointed out, it  might be tolerated for the elite, because they would have to learn how to think and create and so on, but not for the mass of the population.   There are roles that the public schools play in society that can be very destructive.

(From Personal influences)

What was it like to attend the Seattle Quora meetup on October 24, 2014?


I think the conversations that happened at the meetup this time were a lot like those of past meetups. What made this meetup unique was that we couldn’t agree on a good place to meet, so ended up talking outside of the RAM from 6:00pm to around 7:30(?)pm. We ended up waiting in line for the RAM but there was difficulty acquiring a table (the restaurant wanted to split the group into two tables). I eventually had to leave before the group even got a table.

Some other notable points:

Is anyone interested in a study partner system at the University of Washington?


As the asker of this question, I am highly interested.

Who is interested in an effective altruism group/club at the University of Washington?


As the asker of this question, I am highly interested in such a group. I don’t have a lot of experience with effective altruism yet though. I also don’t have experience with typical leadership positions like in high school clubs, so I’m not sure about trying to start it just on my own—although I’d definitely be willing to give it a try. (But in any case, if very few people are interested, then it might not be worth the effort to attempt to start a group).

How has the way Vipul Naik uses Facebook changed the way you think about social media?


Please see Facebook, where this answer has been incorporated.

How can I implement cool URIs with Hakyll?


In the Hakyll configuration file, do something like route $ setExtension "", which will remove the .html extension from the generated file. See also the discussion at Google Groups.

Really, the main thing is to have the server set the default MIME type to text/html so that these extensionless files are seen as valid HTML files by browsers. Note that if you’re hosting on something like GitHub pages, then this is not possible (see Can MIME types of Github Pages files be configured?), which is why many people set up Jekyll/Hakyll to make separate directories for each page with an index.html in each so that the URLs will still look pretty (so you can go to both and

What music does Issa Rice listen to?


See Music I like to listen to.

Does Issa Rice watch anime?


Not anymore. When I was younger and lived in Japan, I used to watch quite a bit (there are usually evening anime around 5pm–7pm in Japan, and I used to watch that). I also remember being obsessed about Digimon, which used to (not sure if this is still true) come on around 7am or 8am on Saturdays. In fact I was so obsessed that I got my parents to record it onto videotapes every week (might still have those somewhere). I remember being very upset once when we forgot to record it.

Other anime I remember watching: Pokémon, Yakitate!! Japan, Doraemon, Chibi Maruko-chan, and Sazae-san. (There probably are more.)

When I got older and moved to the US, I briefly got excited about 笑ゥせぇるすまん - Wikipedia (Laughing Salesman), which has a fantastic depiction of a hedonistic Japan.

I also remember liking The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006 film).

How often do you check the edit history to see the author of a question?


If the question is about someone on Quora, then I like to check who asked it. (This helps me build a better mental model of which Quora users like asking personal questions, like receiving them, etc., as well as letting me see which users interact with each other.)

If a question is particularly interesting or elaborately formulated, then I’m more inclined to check as well.

I’m less likely to check when I’m on the mobile app since I have to open an external browser to check.

As for how often this actually happens, I’d guess maybe once or twice a day.

What are the Dungeons & Dragons alignment types of prominent Quora users?


I got chaotic neutral.

Detailed Results:

Lawful Good ----- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (15)
Neutral Good ---- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (16)
Lawful Neutral -- XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (19)
Lawful Evil ----- XXXXXXX (7)
Neutral Evil ---- XXXXXXXX (8)
Chaotic Evil ---- XXXXXXXXXXXX (12)

Law & Chaos:
Law ----- XXXXXX (6)
Neutral - XXXXXXX (7)
Chaos --- XXXXXXXXXXX (11)

Good & Evil:
Good ---- XXXXXXXXX (9)
Neutral - XXXXXXXXXXXXX (13)
Evil ---- X (1)

How does your Quora all time views/upvotes ratio compare to your questions/answers (public) ratio?


My all time views:upvotes ratio is 5135, and my questions:answers ratio is 27.

What is the difference between the markdown implementations kramdown, maruku, and rdiscount?


You can compare the different implementations using Babelmark 2 - Compare markdown implementations; simply enter a Markdown document and observe the differing HTML outputs.

How can I write messages in Gmail using Markdown?


See my page on Pandoc.

Why does only the first item of a list show up when using pandoc and YAML headers?


Answering my own question since I figured it out. Indeed only the first item seems to be bound to the variable, but using for-loops we can obtain the other values as well. See Listing tags using pandoc and YAML header [1] for more on how to do this for the specific case of listing tags.

[1]: Note: I asked and answered my own question on there as well.

Is there a service or program that lets you copy text from a website directly into Markdown, retaining all formatting?


See my page on Pandoc.

Are there translations websites of Quora content?


For Japanese, there is Knoh (ノウ) | The Knowledge Hub, which, as of August 2014, seems to have around 60 answers on Quora translated (with the original answer side-by-side, like 初めて起業するアントレプレナーたちが、もっともよくやってしまう過ちはなんですか? | Knoh (ノウ)). It seems to be the efforts of a small group of people, and there doesn’t seem to be a sign up feature, so I’m not sure how much it will expand. They do say on Knoh について | Knoh (ノウ) that in the future they’re planning to publicly allow transaltions through the cloud. Also there does seem to be a fairly active hashtag devoted to it on Twitter at Twitter / Search - #knoh as well as an official account at Knoh (公式) (knoh_jp) on Twitter.

Has gwern ever considered enrolling in a massive personal genomics project such as the Personal Genome Project or the 100K Wellness Project?


Here is his response:

I didn’t make the cutoffs for Hsu’s BGI project, and I signed up for one  such project whose name I forget but wasn’t selected (probably because I  am in a deeply uninteresting demographic). Personal genomics hasn’t  been a priority for me: I’m not sure what I’d do with my genome if I had  it, and the declining costs are a deterrent to buying one myself  (Illumina is claiming a $1k genome right now, and at that rate, it could  be $100 in another decade).

(From Page on

What does Issa Rice think of Andrew J. Ho’s post-graduation plans?


I’m not an expert on the subject, so I hope Vipul Naik can provide a better answer, but here are some thoughts.

[1]: See for example Education Disruption. From what I’ve observed, you seem to have similar views.

[2]: On the other hand, Cognito Mentoring, for instance, takes a neutral stance regarding Standardized tests.

[3]: See for instance High school extracurricular activities: factors to consider and High school extracurricular activities: suggestions. During my own high school career, I tended to eschew studying for standardized tests altogether. Still, one can ask whether, given that students shouldn’t spend time on test prep, whether one should still seek a career in it to “extort money from the oblivious”, or similar.

[4]: Though with money, I now just think of it in terms of effective altruism and earning-to-give.

[5]: Specifically,

In  the local area, there are a lot of affluent Asian immigrants with lots  of disposable income. There’s also no private/boarding school culture  (indeed, the reported strength of the local high schools is why many  people decide to live here), but the public high schools here also  aren’t that good

Why has the Cognito Mentoring blog on Quora been dormant recently?


Cognito Mentoring is now in “maintenance mode”; see Moving on from Cognito Mentoring for more. Specifically (taken from the post),

Existing blog posts will remain, but we probably won’t be making many new blog posts. New blog posts will happen only if one of us has an idea that really seems worth sharing and for which the Cognito Mentoring blog is an ideal forum.

As for why it is in “maintenance mode”, the conclusion puts it concisely:

We (qua Cognito Mentoring) are grateful to LessWrong for being welcoming of our posts, offering constructive criticism, and providing us with some advisees we’ve enjoyed working with. We think that the work we’ve done has value, but don’t think that there’s enough marginal value from full-time work on Cognito Mentoring. We think we can do more good for ourselves and the world by switching Cognito Mentoring to maintenance mode and freeing our time currently spent on Cognito Mentoring for other pursuits. The material that we have already produced will continue to remain in the public domain and we hope that people will benefit from it. We may revisit our “maintenance mode” decision if new evidence changes our view regarding traction, impact, and long-run financial viability.

For high school and early college (or equivalent) students, how has regular casual interaction with people in their mid-to-late 20s influenced you?


My thoughts are here.

Who is interested in an October 2014 Quora meetup in Seattle?



Who is interested in a September 2014 Quora meetup in Seattle?


I’m interested.

How does Quora deal with question URLs if a question is edited but then a new question is added with the exact wording of the old question?


Both the old and new URLs for the original question go to the original question; the new question gets its own URL entirely.

Here’s what I did. I asked “What is Quora’s policy on test questions?”, which first created Then I changed that wording to “What is the Quora policy on test questions?”, which generated a new URL for that question, Then I added a new question with the exact wording of the old question, “What is Quora’s policy on test questions?”. This new question got the URL Meanwhile, both of the first two links go to the first question.

What are some of the best questions and answers you have come across recently (July 2014) on Quora?


Over the course of two days I looked through all of Jessica Su’s questions. They aren’t “recent” in terms of when they were produced, but they are certainly worth checking out if you haven’t already. See for example:

What is the best way to read library books in bed without any part of the book cover touching the sheets?


There are also Prism glasses

(Image from Amazon link above.)

They’re a bit odd to wear, since one can usually see more than just the page from the book reflected (i.e. near the top and bottom, one sees different angles of reflection).

See also D_Malik comments on Post ridiculous munchkin ideas! - Less Wrong.

What is it like to attend the Friday pizza lunch on the astronomy floor at the University of Washington?


I went to one during the summer, so I’m not quite sure if the atmosphere I experienced was usual. Essentially, someone goes out to buy three(?) large pizzas[2] and some drinks (canned Coca Cola) and everyone else pays $2.50 a slice to eat.[1] Everyone sits or stands around in the lounge (which is sort of more like a hallway with chairs), and chats a bit. I think most of the people there were professors/researchers or graduate students. I felt a bit out of place as I was one of the only undergraduates/prefrosh. What I ended up doing was standing in the room next to the lounge/hallway with Kristin Lie and Lilian Liang.

If I end up going again, I’d like to (1) try talking to people about astronomy/the astronomy major at UW/the astronomy research at UW; (2) go during the regular school year to see if the summertime was unique; (3) update this answer accordingly.

[1]: Although, for myself, I had brought lunch so I ate that instead of the pizza.

[2]: I did hear someone say that the pizza slices tend to run out fast, although when I went there seemed to be (just) enough for everyone.

Is it true that preschoolers in Japan are starting to wear wide brimmed hats and sunglasses to protect from sunlight?


As Sed Chapman mentioned, this isn’t widely adopted, but one school at least has adopted this[1], and was recently on the news for it. Observe:

[The video was made private since I first posted the answer…]

Rough transcript[2]:

[Female narrator:] The rainy season has been ending starting in the south, and we are entering the hottest season of the year. What measure against this season do we tend to forget?

[Man enters:] At this preschool, in order to protect from UV rays, the preschoolers wear sunglasses while walking to the preschool.

[Female narrator:] Protecting your eyes from UV rays:

[Principal:] Since the sun is situated lower in the sky, it’s easier for the light to enter the eye, and thus it’s said that wearing sunglasses in the mornings and evenings is important.

[Parent 1:] I’m concerned about my child’s eye working properly in the future, so that’s why we wear these when coming to the preschool.

[Parent 2:] I think that it’s because they are children that we are supposed to care for them.

The school does seem to be a private school: 埼玉県さいたま市緑区 学校法人古里学園 大古里 育ちの森幼稚園 (Japanese).

[1]: I suppose I should also note that most of the hats aren’t quite regular wide brimmed ones, so Alex K. Chen may be disappointed.

[2]: By me, so there are possibly errors.

What is it like to go to the UW A&O (for freshmen)?


Some thoughts (from the 2014 A&O):

[1]: The schedule pamphlet states “8:00am - Don’t be late! Meet your Orientation Leader at your group’s designated location. Failure to arrive on-time and check-in by 8:05am will result in a block on Autumn course registration.” In reality, they were pretty lax about this requirement, staying until around 8:15am at the meeting spot.

[2]: Perhaps included as part of the pre-registration screens, to force students to read through them?

[3]: I don’t think this was usual; most people seemed to be able to get their registration done/almost done.

[4]: Perhaps I am being too bitter.

[5]: I suppose one thing to keep in mind is that the orientation leaders are paid, so they may be acting extremely helpfully to make people feel welcomed. I personally did not mind their helpfulness/cheerfulness, and thought they did a very good job.

What is the dinner/lunch like at the UW freshmen A&O?


From 2014:

What is it like to have Vipul Naik as a teacher?


I’m answering because Vipul asked me to, but I don’t primarily consider him a teacher. I first contacted him when he began Cognito Mentoring with Jonah Sinick, so I still think of our relation as being one of mentor–mentee.

On Quora, he helpfully answers some of my questions like What are the common frustrations of Vipul Naik? (which I asked because I was feeling curious after I saw one that was asked of Alex K. Chen) and Does Vipul Naik cook? (which I asked because I became curious about vegetarianism/veganism). However this is rather typical of Quora in general (e.g. I ask more questions about Alex K. Chen than about Vipul).

On Facebook, I know him as the most sedulous article collector and discussion initiator/moderator. I suppose this is somewhat the role teachers usually fill, by introducing material to the class. He seems to do this better in some sense, then, by mostly bringing up discussion topics that are of interest to me, and also by not forcing people to contribute (which is what a traditional teacher does through verbal remarks and grades).

He also personally tells me things e.g. to join LinkedIn or to check out Power Smoothies, but again this applies to a greater class of people than that of just teachers.

I was reminded (by Vipul) that I have also watched some of his math videos on YouTube. I thought these were high quality, and especially interesting since they went into more abstract topics than the typical math videos one finds online (e.g. Khan academy). More recently, I watched his videos on proving limits using the epsilon–delta definition (available as a playlist here). I thought the videos were good, and more detailed than what my math class did in college (at the same level). I didn’t like that he already had the delta beforehand instead of using “scratch work” like many others do (although the algebraic computations do make it rather obvious what to choose for delta). When I asked about this, he was also willing to point out a few more things, like how the choice of delta was related to the derivative of the function. I wish he had another video explaining this, though it’s understandable that at the introductory stage this sort of thing isn’t discussed.

University of Washington: Why do the computers in the undergrad astro lab only have Scientific Linux with Python 2.4?


The astro lab recently updated to Scientific Linux 6, along with Python 2.6 and Vim 7.2, so some more features may be working.


Update: Actually if you use something like /astro/apps6/anaconda2.0/bin/python instead of the default installation of Python (/usr/bin/python), [1] then you can use Python 2.7.8 as of August 2014. The other advantage of using the Python on Anaconda is that you get software like Astropy and Matplotlib without having to install them yourself.

[1]: Since the astro admins install Anaconda Scientific Python Distribution on the servers for you.

What was it like to attend the Seattle Quora meetup on June 27th, 2014?


Some thoughts:

How can I combine an AND and a NOT in Liquid?


I’m answering my own question because I figured out a hack. I’ve been looking at some documentation, but it seems that Liquid does not have a NOT operator, and instead uses the “unless” construction along with conditions… So I ended up doing:

{% unless page.tags contains "japanese" %}
  {% if page.tags contains "math" %}
    for math and not japanese
  {% endif %}
{% endunless %}

{% unless page.tags contains "math" %}
  for not math, japanese or no japanese
{% endunless %}

{% if page.tags contains "math" and page.tags contains "japanese" %}
  for math and japanese
{% endif %}

What are all of Vipul Naik’s acronyms?


I’ve created an Anki deck for this for people who want to learn such Vipulous Vipulisms: Vipul Naik’s acronyms

Who is going to the Quora dinner meetup on Friday, June 27th in Seattle?


I’m interested.

How long has Issa Rice used Linux for?


~5 years.

I started with Ubuntu (either Intrepid (Oct 2008) or Jaunty (Apr 2009)) after I got my own computer (a very old Gateway machine); at first I dual-booted with Windows XP. Even as far back as 2005/2006, however, I remember playing around on Ubuntu (mostly just the pre-installed games) because my father had it installed on his computer.

After a while I found K.Mandla’s blog (Motho ke motho ka botho), which I found really inspiring. I very much enjoy their antagonism toward buying newer and newer hardware just to keep up with software bloat.[1] So after reading posts like Things to do with an old computer, Ten things you can do keep an old computer useful, More reasons to learn from old computers, Software, Maximalism is a better word, Three reasons to buy an old computer, Twenty-ten: The picks of the litter, and countless others, I distro-hopped quite a bit before coming to like Arch Linux and Debian best. At the moment I use Debian exclusively on all my computers (I still use the default Android installation on my phone, but I hate it).


[1] K.Mandla is also very opposed to cloud computing in general (mostly due to privacy concerns; see The cloud is a lie; sort of like What does Richard Stallman think of Quora?), and I used to agree more with this, but after discovering Quora I’ve become more open to sacrificing some privacy for the sake of obtaining useful information.

How do I paste from the clipboard into vim when I type commands into the vim terminal?


Use <C-r>" or <C-r>*. The former will paste from Vim’s internal clipboard, and the latter will use the system’s clipboard. See How to copy yanked text to VI command prompt for more.

How can I use Vim UltiSnips to compute the sha1 hash of the current file?


Here is an approach using Vimscript interpolation:

snippet sha1 "insert sha1 hash of the current file"
`!v strpart(system("sha1sum ".expand("%")), 0, 40)`

(Note that the system must have sha1sum as a command, which is true for e.g. Debian.)

How did you discover Quora?


How did you discover LessWrong?


Should you use Anki flashcards for memorizing and in what cases?


Using Anki for memorization is good because it incorporates both testing (i.e. one is actively recalling information instead of just reading) and spacing (i.e. not cramming, but rather spreading reviews out).

To copy what I wrote elsewhere:

The best source to learn about spaced repetition in general is Gwern’s article at Spaced repetition.

Also read A vote against spaced repetition (Less Wrong) for why using flashcards may not be the best way to study. (The title  is somewhat misleading, and one comment points this out, saying ‘This is  really more “a vote against flashcards” than “a vote against spaced  repetition”, though, at least given your concrete issues with  flashcards.’)

For  myself, I’ve been using it and like it a lot, but it probably works  best for language learning/vocabulary study. I’ve tried using it to  memorize e.g. trigonometric identities/integrals before, but couldn’t  figure out a good way to break apart the information (since some  identities are too long to be recited quickly). The hardest part is  motivating myself to keep up the daily reviews; Beeminder is only  helping somewhat.

See A brief summary of effective study methods for more.

Who is interested in a May 2014 Quora meetup in Seattle?


Yes I’m interested.

As a high school student, how have you found reading and participating on Quora useful?


Some thoughts:

What are some examples of censorship on Quora?


See also Brian Fey’s answer to What are some cases of questions for which the tag “Possibly Insincere Question” seems to be misapplied to censor content? where he says that

In  many cases, this tag is just used as one more tool for censoring Quora  to remove thoughts that culturally narrow people don’t like.

**As soon as the tag is applied, nobody can see the question unless they follow the “Possibly Insincere Question” topic.“**

(Be sure the read the comments to the answer as well.)


Kmandla’s page on Software has many good ideas.

How long does it take for DuckDuckGo to process a new bang expression?


In one instance, around three months.

I think I suggested one (`!gooj) 2 January, and it got added on 24 March. I’m not sure if my date of suggestion is correct, though. (I got an email notification when it got added, so the latter date should be pretty precise.)

How should I properly pronounce your name?

See How should I properly pronounce your name?

Does anyone want a Seattle Quora Meetup for April 2014?



What is the longest question on Quora?


I just found In today’s hyper-fast business world, we watch startups like Groupon go from zero to billions seemingly overnight.  It’s tempting to measure ourselves by these examples and to feel wholly inadequate. Personally, I have to wonder: Why isn’t my businesses growing as fast as these new-age juggernauts? What am I doing wrong? Why the ‘New Normal’ Isn’t  The truth is, Groupon-style growth is neither normal nor sustainable, and no “normal” company should worry about emulating it. The reason for this is two-fold:  Without VC money to flush down the toilet, you must fund you own growth  Your funding is mathematically limited by actual profits. Let’stake a closer look at this simple logic. Calculating Sustainable Growth  Normal companies are profitable, not venture-funded. Not all businesses are venture funded (thank God), and not all entrepreneurs want to sell their souls to a VC. Although VC money powers rapid growth, 99.9% of companies will never see a dime of VC investment.  I’m guessing that your “normal” company is not funded by VC and instead relies on profits to fuel growth. (Groupon, meanwhile, has burned through almost a billion dollars of venture capital.) Profitable companies have limits… Believe it or not, growth is naturally limited in a profitable company that is not venture-funded. Big companies figured this out decades ago. In fact, Hewlett Packard pioneered the term “Affordable Growth Rate” to describe the maximum speed of growth at HP in the 1950s. HP’s Affordable Growth Rate formula is a good (and easy to calculate) method that any profitable company can use. …And that limit is the Affordable Growth Rate. Your Affordable Growth Rate (AGR) is the percentage that your sales can grow year over year. If your sales doubled, that’s 100 percent growth – that much is simple. But sales growth is limited by your ability to fund new sales.  So – how fast can your business grow? Calculate your maximum AGR by dividing this year’s net profits by last year’s equity. [More specifically, AGR = (this year’s after tax retained profits) / (Stockholders’ tangible equity at the end of last year).] Hewlett  Packard used this equation to limit its own growth. Yes, that’s right, they wanted to limit growth.  Why?Because growing sales faster than the rest of your business is a sure way toget yourself into financial trouble. HP knew that sales have to be financed(computers have to be built, sales people paid, etc.), and financing comeseither from your own assets (cash) or what you can borrow against those assets (loans). Sustainable Growth Is Good Growth  There’s no magic formula for unlimited growth in a normal company. In fact, just the opposite. Your AGR is a rather good formula (perhaps not magic) to show why growth should be limited. You can only grow as fast as your profits (and equity growth) allow. Not even Groupon can change the fundamentals of sustainable growth. (And a few rational investors have seen this in their analysis of the Groupon IPO.) So whether you make lunch boxes or machine tools, websites or weed-whackers, take note. Make your best effort to grow – just be sure that the growth is sustainable by sticking to your AGR limits. Dedicated to your (Growing!) profits,  David  By: David Worrell Growing Like Groupon: How NOT to Grow Too Fast, read more

Admittedly it’s not a single question, and I haven’t even read the entire question. The question details for this question, on the other hand, are very short.

When does the UW CSE direct admit mail go out?


From the High School Direct Admission page:

Students who are admitted to the university will get a letter from UW  between March 15 and 31. UW Admissions then sends a Welcome Packet  containing an “enrollment confirmation” slip that lists your major. For most DA students, the enrollment confirmation slip will be updated to show  the major as Computer Science or Computer Engineering. For students who  have not been selected for DA, the major will be listed as Pre-Major,  Pre-Science, or another pre-major status.

Official Direct Admission offers from CSE will arrive a little later  – roughly two weeks after the Admissions office sends its notifications  of general university admission.  In April, CSE will email all DAs to  announce our offer of admission to the department. We will follow this  email with a letter from our chair, sent via postal mail. We will then  communicate directly with our new DA students to answer any questions  about our program, and to confirm enrollment.

What are some creative ways to use Quora?


Some active Quora users like Alex K Chen use Quora as a “personal web assistant”. See Alex K. Chen’s answer to Why are some Quora answers so long?

Some other posts that elaborate on this:

Is LessWrong a cult-like group?


Here are some resources that might help.

What is the best way to treat or prevent acne?


There are some resources on Reddit that seem useful. In particular see

via phonypapercut comments on Open Thread, August 1-15, 2012 - Less Wrong.

Longevity and Life Extension: What can I do to live as long as possible?


There is a recent (28 Feb. 2014) post on Less Wrong that discusses longevity, which is worth checking out.

See Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity. (The post is licensed CC-BY, so someone may want to attempt to extend it.)

The comments discuss sleep apnea: Yvain comments on Lifestyle interventions to increase longevity - Less Wrong. On Quora, there is What is it like to have sleep apnea?

Why do Quora blogs have URLs that are subdomains and subdirectories?


For blogs with a subdomain URL

  1. Go to the corner (on full web version) of the page with your name. (Hover over your name.)
  2. Click on “Create Blog”.
  3. The URL will automatically assume the style

Interestingly, going to either or will redirect you to the same blog. However the blog identifier here must be unique in all of Quora, so one does not have the freedom to choose an arbitrary name.

For blogs with subdirectory URL

(I actually haven’t found a direct way to do this, and the current method seems like a hack…)

  1. Go to a random Quora post/answer/question.
  2. Click on “Share” at the bottom of the post/answer/question.
  3. Check the box that says “Post to Blog”.
  4. Type in any name for a blog.
  5. Click on “Create Blog”. (This assumes that you don’t already have a blog with this name.)
  6. Now the URL assumes the style
  7. Now one can post to this blog like any other blog.

Tags: Quora.

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