Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Quora

So, I’ve been answering questions about grammar and dogs and biology and stuff over on Quora. I can’t remember why and how the first one popped up in my inbox, but they’re kind of fun.

Also, sometimes kind of ridiculous.

Here’s a reasonable question, the kind that Quora exists to help with:

Do both sentences have the same meaning, “The bill will be brought to us by the waiter” and “We will be brought the bill by the waiter”?

I presume this question was asked by an ESL person. There are tons of excellent questions like this.

Here’s a question that is perhaps less suitable:

What are the three characteristics of desert vegetation?

The questioner might as well append: Do my homework for me, please!

Here’s another question that strikes me as unsuitable for a different reason:

What kind of big dog breed would be suitable for a woman?

How could anyone answer that? Other than by saying, “All of them, depending on you.” This is an example of a question that should be written to be far, far more specific. I really must admit, I don’t understand why the questioner doesn’t SEE that this question is far too vague to get a helpful response. How can she not understand that if she says, “What kind of big dog breed would be suitable for me, if I won’t be able to provide much exercise and mostly want a dog to watch tv with in the evenings?” Even that is too vague, but it would be better.

Also, there are the sorts of questions that anybody should be able to google in two seconds:

Are monkeys warm-blooded or cold-blooded?

Not only an attempt to get someone else to do homework (at least, that seems likely), but for heaven’s sake, can’t you google “warm-blooded” and “cold-blooded” and then answer that question yourself?

My favorite so far, in a sense:

If I have 7 grams of cocaine and I needed to add enough baking soda to make 9 grams, how much baking soda should I add?

I am not making this up. I am not making up any of these.

I did not answer that one, but someone else did, with an inquiry about whether the questioner had suffered some terrible head injury that left him or her unable to do grade-school subtraction. I did think the more likely explanation in this case was that drugs had melted the questioner’s brain.

At the top of my Quora questions right now:

Are German Shepherds killer dogs or just a dog? My husband wants to get one as a guard dog, but can they be a friend to the family and not turn on their owners?

Sheesh.

Here’s one from yesterday:

In writing, how do I avoid insta-love?

Way too broad, and yet not a bad question. I actually answered that one by referring to the Touchstone trilogy, as the relationship in that one is about as far from insta-love as you can get in a story with an important romance. I hope the questioner reads that trilogy and enjoys it!

Skimming through and answering Quora questions is surprisingly addictive. Has anybody else played around with this platform?

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4 Comments Quora

  1. Elaine T

    It’s vaguely possible that there’s another explanation,
    I read the cocaine question out loud to the other in the room, and realized as I did so that the person might have been thinking in terms of teaspoons. Because sometimes I go brain dead and don’t realize I can measure something in a different way from what I’m accustomed to. So the querant may have been used to cooking.

    More likely drugs have fried the brain, though.

    We a very sweet German Shepherd when I was growing up. Grandad has his brother, and they were both nice

  2. Rachel

    That question could be used as a warning: Don’t do drugs, kids! You could turn out THIS stupid.

    I have known very nice dogs of every breed in creation. Almost every dog-related answer I put on Quora involves the statement: Individuals of every breed vary A LOT.

    German shepherds are of course likely to be excellent dogs if you go to a good breeder and if you are an excellent owner. A badly bred GSD is still likely to be okay for you if you are an excellent owner, but if you see a temperament issue, it is likely to be fear-based, which takes a competent owner to deal with.

    Also, while on the subject of GSDs and careless breeders, I HATE seeing a nice dog trapped in a crippled body because the puppy producer does not understand or does not care that PASTERNS SHOULD BE FUNCTIONAL and WEAK PASTERNS WILL CRIPPLE THE DOG. Sometimes it seems like every dog you see with REALLY bad pasterns is a GSD. No matter how wonderful a person is, there is nothing an owner can do to fix truly horrible pasterns, like those on this GSD puppy shown under “Forearm”

    http://www.schwarzdogs.com/breedingthecanine/id18.html

    If puppy buyers understood the basics of structure, this defect could probably be bred out of German shepherds in one generation — maybe two. Along with a lot of other, often more subtle structural defects that WILL cripple the puppy as it gets older. But this down-pastern thing is EXTREMELY obvious the minute you know what to look for. There is NO excuse for breeding German shepherds with this horrible front construction.

  3. Rachel

    Holly, seriously, the answers to about 80% of all questions on Quora should probably start with these two return questions:

    Is this a question from a homework assignment?
    Does this question appear on a test?

    I have also wondered whether Quora has a policy prohibiting answers of the following varieties:

    a) No, of course not. Sheesh, get a clue!

    b) You know, you could google that in less than 10 seconds, as I did while answering your ridiculously simplistic question.

    … But so far I have not been snarky enough to actually use either response.

    Thanks for dropping by!

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