// what do you think?


Quora Questions [10 Links]

I swore I wasn’t going to do a post on Quora this week because it seems like everyone and their blog is writing about #Quora this week. But all of that chatter has sparked so many questions from clients, friends and colleague’s that I’ve written enough reply’s that I couldn’t not re-purpose them as a blog post. And while I don’t have a lot to add beyond my own personal recommendation of the site I thought I would go ahead and point to those who have already written so much and turn this into my first 10 Links post of 2011.

I’ve been on Quora since it came out of private beta in June of last year and I do much more lurking and answering than I do asking. A few things about Quora that make it important and why there’s a lot of buzz:

  • Slick as hell UI. Seriously the best UI of any Q&A site ever.
  • Fast and intuitive. Just start typing in a question and it will suggest previously asked questions. And unlike Google suggest it’s not looking for exact keyword matches.
  • Quora isn’t really a Q&A site. It’s all about search. I read somewhere once but can’t find it now that they are trying to capture all the knowledge not on the Web.
  • They started with the Valley elite. Tapping their Valley VC connections for the closed beta created the highest quality content I’ve ever found.
  • Where else are you going to get Marc Andressen to answer this question about his conflicting VC investment in PicPlz and Instagram?
  • “Why did Andressen Horowitz invest in PicPlz when they are already investors in Instagram?” http://b.qr.ae/gUVCla

But what is Quora? According to Crunchbase:

Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.

One way you can think of it is as a cache for the research that people do looking things up on the web and asking other people. Eventually, when you see a link to a question page on Quora, your feeling should be: “Oh, great! That’s going to have all the information I want about that.” It’s also a place where new stuff–that no one has written about yet–can get pulled onto the web.

And now for the coverage:

1. The Quora Phenomenon - Peaking on Value & Authenticity

The mission of Quora is a simple one, theoretically, stated as a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited and organized by its users. This makes it share some commonalities with Wikipedia, with the community self-policing what answers are correct or incorrect, through voting them up or down, be it due to the users’ identity or the value of the answer itself. The more accurate and transparent the answer, the more likely to be accepted by the community, of course.

2. Quora Signups Exploded In Late December — Then Doubled From That This Week.

So this service Quora, it’s getting pretty hot. But up until now, we’ve only be able to guestimate how hot it actually is. But today they’ve finally shared some actual information — on Quora, naturally.

Specifically, Quora engineer Albert Sheu has put up a long answer to the question: Why did the Quora website get so slow at the end of December 2010?The reason Sheu gives includes a brief explanation of how the service works. When someone adds an answer or updates one, everyone else on that page sees the new information in realtime. That’s obviously not easy to scale, and Sheu says they’ve never tested it beyond 2 to 3 times their normal load. That was an issue at the end of December because they started seeing spikes of5 to 10 times their normal activity.

3. Can Quora Survive Its Growing Popularity?

There are obvious challenges on the technical side when it comes to that kind of growth — as Twitter found in its early years — but even more than that, there are substantial moderation challenges if you want to maintain a certain atmosphere and community ethic, as Cheever and D’Angelo clearly do. Questions have to be read and edited, and rules have to be enforced. Just this week alone, several corporations, including the Huffington Post, set up Quora accounts, but Cheever confirmed to me that the rules of the site — at least for now — allow for personal accounts only. I’ve also come across accounts with fake names, another problem that social networks of all kinds have to contend with.

4. Is Quora A Next Generation Long Tail Play?

And a contributing factor of most vertical-specific site success is the long tail of search. I share very specific ideas that a small subset of the population are interested in. I’m sure your company or blog is similar: some of the most valuable traffic is via very specific queries in the tail.

That’s Quora’s game except to be horizontal, and if you’re answering or asking questions there you’re helping them win it. That’s basically how sites like Mahalo, Yahoo Answers and eHow function – they become (maybe) useful hubs of information on the cheap and dominate the tail (and sometimes the head) of search.

5. Quora Booms, But Will Marketers ‘Follow’?

Marketing practitioners will no doubt soon begin wondering how the site could become a promotions vehicle as it eventually looks to monetize. David Spinks, co-founder of BlogDash, has been on Quora since it launched and told ClickZ that many users are businesses professionals who are already attempting to leverage the site to create B2B opportunities. And, he said, the site has B2C potential.

“Consumers have already started to use Quora for feedback on products, restaurants, services, and more,” Spinks said. “A quick search of ‘restaurants in NYC’ will display a number of questions already asked by users. Peer reviews on the social web are powerful as ever, as we’ve seen in how people use Twitter. As Quora grows and reaches the less tech-savvy masses, the B2C value will only grow. This will be especially true if they open up their content to search engines, like they said they would a while back - but still haven’t as far as I know.”

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

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.

7. How Did Quora Get So Popular So Fast?

One of the reasons we heard that might have caused this explosion was TechCrunch. Near the end of December the tech news site ran an article in which the author said that he uses Quora a lot to get story ideas. We found that this may actually be true. When we ran our buzzgraph analysis, which shows us words that are most used in conjunction with our search term, we actually find TechCrunch right in the center of the conversation

Whatever the real reason may be for the boom in interest with Quora, one thing we can say for sure is that people seem to like it. Our sentiment analysis shows an 87% overall favourable rating in the conversation about the site.

8. Is Quora Yet Another Social Network (YASN) or Something Different?

Some first impressions:

Slower, Reflective Experience: The process of answering and asking questions is a reflective practice.    That does not typically happen when you participate in the fast, staccato pace of most social spaces like Twitter.    Quora offered focused attention, not reactive.   It prompted deeper insights about at topic I’m interested.    As Louis Gray suggests, it offers relevancy and community.  

Subject Matter Expertise: My entry to Quora was through connections who come from the library and education areas and by side stepped into a couple of technology areas.   I knew some of the participants on the thread, well-known bloggers, authors, librarians, educators, and thinkers.    This conversation thread was rich, witty, and thoughtful.    The site is also becoming popular with technology insiders in Silicon Valley.  Take for example this thread about launching a start up at SXSW.

9. Why Quora Will Never Be as Big as Twitter

Though it’s a valuable service that very often yields answers to your questions and displays insightful commentary about topics you’re interested in, the site has a focused appeal that makes it unlikely to attract mainstream users. And that’s OK, because maybe Quora isn’t trying to attract the mainstream audience.

Quora has learned a lot from the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Digg, and it has provided an outlet for conversation and discussion that many other social sites have been unable to achieve. It’s a great site.

10. Seven Reasons Why Quora Will Be Bigger Than Foursquare

1. People will always desire to build their profiles off what they know. Quora does this.
2. People want answers to their questions from friends, peers and those with expertise (Quora is building this)
3. People want digital services to work well across multiple platforms (Quora is off to a good start)
4. People like to show off what they know (check)
5. People feel satisfied when they know they’ve helped someone else. (double check)
6. People like when they can share across other social platforms (triple check)
7. People put value into systems which give value back.

Like I said I’m a fan of the service (you can follow me here) but what do you think?

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

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  • http://www.sharelomer.com SharelOmer

    Great post Tac :)

    I mostly use Quora for entrepreneurial questions, and found there to be high quality people…

    The strage thing is that as the Quora community grown, I start to feel its less personal…

    I wonder what is there business model…

    Happy 2011 pal.

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