Dave Folkens

Questioning Quora

Dave Folkens     Online Marketing

Do you use Quora? Should you use Quora? As we begin the new year, I felt like it makes sense to set aside some time each week to take a look at technology that is new, generating interest, or represents a step forward in the online world.

In the last couple weeks Quora has become the trendy pick as a breakout site for 2011. Traffic increased tremendously in December but then more than doubled again in early January per information released on Quora this week from Quora engineer Albert Sheu.

The bigger question is why? What will Quora do for users that can’t be addressed elsewhere? Will it provide a larger or more credible source of information than Twitter for most users? It’s been a mixed reaction so far with responses all over the board. It has even been hot enough to spawn a spoof site Cwora.

What are some of the questions out in the social space about this service and how are members of the online community? In the spirit of the Q&A site itself, here are a few interesting questions I found based on those I have followed and questions posed on Twitter regarding the site  from users as it moves from a small specialty destination to one attracting thousands of new users.

How did Quora suddenly start getting many more users around the beginning of 2011?

On Boxing Day (December 26, 2010) Robert Scoble blogged ‘Is Quora the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years?’ effectively endorsing the site as the next big thing.  PC Magazine, Techcrunch, TNW and FastCompany were amongst the many media outlets that quickly followed.  This, coupled with social graph on-boarding with Twitter, Facebook and email integration, lead to truly viral growth. (via answer summary of 12 reactions on Quora)

Quora Answers The Question: How Will You Avoid Becoming Yahoo Answers?

In a post entitled, “Commitment to Keeping Quora High Quality“, co-founder Charlie Cheever outlines the steps Quora is taking to ensure that the community remains the same great place for knowledge as it grows in size. So what are the steps? The biggest and most immediate one Cheever highlights is a better on-boarding process. Cheever notes that it can be difficult for new users to understand how to properly ask questions on the site. So they’ve created a tutorial quiz that walks them through the process before they submit the first question. (via TechCrunch)

Should you link your other networks to Quora?

One of the stickier issues raised by many on Twitter has been the connecting of the two services and the automatic follow feature of Quora if enabled. The site does not yet offer an option of selecting which contacts would be connected but rather connects to all contacts from your social networks creating a mass list of followed connections and can overwhelm many with content and questions. It was also brought up as a potential reason for the ongoing traffic increases as more and more users connect in mass, it further feeds the buzz of the last few weeks.

However, as pointed out in answers themselves, some view this as a positive service as well allowing users to rapidly create a network of connections.

Will Quora ultimately survive as a valuable tool or become another hot flash in the pan? It’s early in the hype-cycle but the concept could do well if the quality of the answers remains high and the self-promotion, spam, and inappropriate comments can be contained with a much larger base.

Should marketers and communications professionals invest a significant amount of time in Quora?

At this point, it is being used by many as another site to try to demonstrate knowledge in a particular space much like LinkedIn Answers, Twitter, and other sites in the hopes that it will attract followers or potential business.  Some have been more active for some time and are seeing good results based on their experience. Profile names do appear in the URL and in title tags for the site, offering a chance that participation could positively impact your online footprint and search results. Users are able to receive votes and support for well thought-out answers which creates a potential for greater recognition as an expert in a field but I expect the value to vary widely depending on the industry and the critical mass of your target audience that converts to using this new tool. Stay tuned.

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Comments

  1. Dave, I’ve only used Quora a few times and so far, am not particularly impressed (though, of course, this could change, and I’m basing my comment on an experience a few months ago). It is not very intuitive in terms of use, and the questions are all over the map. I’ve certainly seen some good Q&As, but I’ve also seen some really stupid ones. I suppose that’s the democracy of the Internet, though. I did notice a significant uptick in followers on Quora, which is probably attributable indirectly to Scoble’s article, as more people flocked to it. It remains to be seen whether it will become my go-to place for expert resources. For now, my jury, at least, is out.

    • Anonymous says:

      I really agree Shonali. I think the quality of Quora will vary widely depending on your subject matter and the community there that will serve as resources for you. Ultimately, the ability to find credible resources that are sharing informed opinions or facts will determine the future success of the site for me.

  2. It may just be the early-use novelty of it, but I have greatly enjoyed my first couple of weeks on Quora, answering and asking questions. I believe the site has a ton of potential, if it can successfully expand beyond just a network of tech and social media people. That, of course, is the challenge for any of these sites. Twitter has done it, of course. I hope Quora can, too.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m glad to hear it Glenn. It’s been really interesting to see the range of reactions so far on this particular site. Though it has been up quite a while, these last few weeks have been the first big challenge to see if this will scale in a large sense. We’ll definitely find out.

  3. I’m concerned that the mix of followed users vs best answers (I.e. If you have lots of followers you’re more likely to have your question voted up – because people read your answer) will skew results. However, I like Quora and think it can fill a gap. At this early stage there are still too many daft questions and too many wide ones.

    Worth persevering with to see how it evolves.

  4. I believe the service can be useful and you did a great job of outlining what the potential for it is, however i see it as having many hurdles to overcome if it wishes to be successful on a large scale. Yahoo answers and many others offer a convenience factor that is hard to match.

    Wendell

  5. Here’s a tool I think you should review next: SEOQuake. I just installed it & am weighing the value.

  6. OMG another quora post – they must be paying a fortune for all these blog mentions (not here but all over ive read at least 20 today alone)… just check seo.alltop.com to see the pickup its insaine. (sorry to bitch)

  7. Keeping its culture as it scales is Quora’s biggest challenge. I think it is the most exciting thing going on in the social media space right now. Plus, Quora is attracting search bots like crazy.

  8. Dave – Having just signed up for Quora a week ago, I’m impressed with the simplicity of the platform. It’s kinda Yahoo Answers meets Twitter but much cleaner and more professional looking than Yahoo’s version. Currently it doesn’t seem flooded with “India SEO services” type questions/answers which is a good thing. Wonder what the policing strategy is for Quora.

  9. I’ve been using Quora on an almost daily basis and I love it. The culture is great; it reminds me a bit of the freenode IRC network–minus the real-time factor. People have hung out in the same IRC channels on the same networks for years. It’s a real niche environment.

    I don’t think that the spammier folks will ruin it–simply because of a lower tolerance in this type of community. Useless posts will just be voted down and/or idiotic members banned.

    I don’t consider Quora to be comparable with Twitter at all, for a few reasons:

    – There can be only so much depth to engaging within 140 characters or less.
    – Quora allows for much easier segmentation of contacts and topics.
    – The number of people involved in a single discussion isn’t dependent on who’s following you.

    I haven’t quite made my mind up about the ‘follow’ feature yet. I’m hoping Quora will add some functionality that compliments it such as feed filtering.

    Connect with me on Quora: /Matthew-Edward

    • Anonymous says:

      Great to hear that the quality level has held up well for you. I hope it really does maintain that functionality and becomes another channel that can be used to share information and content online.

  10. I have been using Quora for a while. I love it at the beginning, but now, I can’t say that. It should be a palace that people can have serious discussion, but now it is just another heaven of spammers. It remind me another try on this. My friend gave me a website: Longhowl.com, I just go and have a try.

    Hoho, it’s so simple, no registration, user name,avatar, or anything like this, you just post you message and hit howl, then people see it and if they are interested in, they will howlback! And people can vote by biting and healing the good howlbacks they like or dislike. They also do some social thing, you can share the topic that you really want to discuss, on facebook, twitter…

    It remind me of craigslist,simple but useful. It has all the things you need to have a real discussion, and nothing more.

    Will it be the craigslist of this field?