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I'd like to use the Web my way, thank you very much Quora.

Stashed in: Mobile!, The Web, Awesome, Your argument is invalid., Your doing it wrong., Mobile Web!, Open Web

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Scott Hanselman says that Quora is unwebby:

I was browsing the web today, as I often do, with my iPhone on the can. (Yeah, you do it too, don't front.)

A link to an interesting Q&A on Quora came along, so I clicked.

And got this:

No I don't want your app, Quora

Wow. This is bold, even for Quora.

I can peek at one answer, then presumably I'll be so enamored with Quora's walled garden that I'll rush to download their app.

The introduction of iOS 6 also introduced "smart app banners" as a way to let users know that your site has an associated app. The site author just adds a META tag and mobile safari handles the rest.

<meta name="apple-itunes-app" content="app-id=999">

Note that the giant DOWNLOAD THIS APP PLEASE arrow is all Quora and is not part of the iOS 6 Smart App Banner feature. This is equivalent to a YouTube video embedding a "please subscribe video" or a reporter pointing at an unseen 1-800 number added later in post production.

This implementation goes against everything on the web. You're not just actively preventing me from visiting your site by forcing me to log in, but you're also actively forcing me to download your app to access your server.

I don't want your app. 

Apps are too much like 1990's CD-ROMs and not enough like the Web.

Well said, sir. Well said.

There's a lot more in the article if you want to read more:


Mobile Web is so much more natural!!!

It's particularly strange because more and more app makers are admitting that usage on mobile apps is shit.  Even if you have a million downloads, you might only have a few tens of thousands of monthly actives.

That's a really good point. Here's more evidence that mobile apps = less engagement:

Unless you're Instagram or SnapChat, engagement numbers on mobile apps are awful.

I've often defended Quora. I try to deduce the reasons for their actions, assuming they're smart and have more signals we can't see. But I'm having a hard time understanding how this is helping them.

Are the signups that valuable? Does pre-forcing a signup draw that much more reader-feedback (eg upvotes, comments), as opposed to triggering when readers 1st try an action?

I know the people whining most about this are web superusers, not representative of the masses... but Quora's really turning this group off, hard. (Is that the method to their madness? That this behavior ensures a more 'normal' group of users arrives, rather than openness-demanding-complainers, at a measured rate?)

That's my guess -- they want fewer web superusers, and this move achieves that nicely.

Signups are not valuable except as a vanity metric.

YouTube, Wikipedia, Wikia, Wikihow, eHow, Blogger, Imgur, Reddit, Tumblr, and WordPress all seem to do fine without forcing logins.

Perhaps Quora would prefer to be more like Facebook, Twitter, or the New York Times?

Want to visit an incomplete version of our website where you can't zoom? Download our app! - PandaWhale

Saw this article the other day web...another well played illustration of the web vs app battle.

I share his frustration: "In the “web vs. apps” war, I think you can infer which side I’m on. I wouldn’t download a BBC app or an NPR app for my computer. Why would I want one on my phone? Do I buy a separate radio to listen to different stations? No. The functionality is the same, the only thing that differs is the content. Apps ought to provide some actual functionality, not just blobs of content wrapped up in binary files."