Quora – the next big thing or just a lot of Q&A?

Quora is a new, socially fuelled question and answer site. It’s generating a lot of buzz but how will it cope with growth?

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Q. What is Quora?

what is quora

A. Quora is socially fuelled question and answer site that was founded in June 2009 by former Facebook executives Charlie Cheever and Adam D’Angelo. It went public in June 2010.

Questions are entered in to the search box and answered by the Quora community. Answers to questions are prioritised by how useful they are and the site uses Twitter-style following to track the best contributors.

The site has been receiving a lot of hype of late, capturing the attention of the masses – not just the tech heads.

In fact, Quora saw a huge boost in user activity towards the end of December, on December 28, the site saw 5-10 times the usual activity. Quora engineer Albert Sheu told TechCrunch that this was largely down to the coverage the site received on influential tech blogs around that time, including TechCrunch and CNN.

Quora seems to have everyone talking. Milo Yiannopoulos of The Telegraph blogged his thoughts as to why this might be;

“Perhaps that’s because the “I don’t see the point of it” criticism you often hear voiced about Twitter by non-technical and non-media people isn’t a possible criticism of Quora: its usefulness is obvious, and immediately accessible – unlike Twitter, which takes time to start getting value from.”

We agree. Anyone who uses Twitter will know how hard it is to sell the value of the site to a non user. The value of Twitter is in essence, In the eye of of the user. The advantage that Quora holds is that anyone can login and find answers with almost immediate effect.

Another reason for the boost in user numbers is the volume of influential people using the site. For example, Steve Case, the co-founder and former chief executive of AOL is willingly answering questions on the site. This makes Quora some what of a gold-mine for tech bloggers.

As ‘hot’ as the site is at this moment in time, there are concerns. One of the best known Q&A sites, Yahoo Answers, was some what a victim of its own success – as users grew and it went mainstream the quality of responses plummeted. Now very few people use the service as their first port of call when looking for sensible answers – because there rarely are any.

This could be a problem that comes to haunt Quora as it grows in user numbers and inevitably attracts spammers and self promoters.

Quora Co-founder, Cheever told the San Jose Mercury News; “Right now, most of the content on Quora is very good. It’s very thoughtful and well written. So as we keep growing, how do we maintain that quality? There’s no one answer.

However, other Q&A sites including Yahoo Answers and Ask.com don’t have the Twitter-style ‘following’ feature that Quora does – undoubtedly a big attraction.

Courtesy of guardian.co.uk, here’s an overview of how to get started using Quora;

  • Register. You can do this using your Facebook or Twitter profile
  • Start asking a question by typing in the search box at the top right. You’ll start seeing suggestions for questions that have already been asked (and possibly answered) begin to grow and change as your query continues. Want to know how making red wine differs from the process for white? Here you go
  • If you can add your own answer to an unanswered question, or improve on an already-answered one, do so by adding your own response
  • If you think an answer has been too highly or too lowly ranked, click it up or down. The best answers should therefore rise to the top
  • Start finding people to ‘follow’ by using Facebook and Twitter connections

Whether Quora goes mainstream will depend on how the site handles the influx of new members and moderates spam. It will be a challenge to maintain the high quality of answers the site is currently receiving, but if it does, we predict big things for Quora.

Are you using Quora? Please share your thoughts and experiences below…

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