Launched publicly from a beta model six months ago, I must confess that I’d heard very little about Quora until yesterday where with the speed of referral that is the phenomenon of the social media grapevine, Quora hit Twitter in a maelstrom of tweets and updates.
Quora, Quora, Quora.
It was everywhere.
A quick investigation revealed that it is a community based question and answer site, or as they put it: “A continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” Very similar in premise to the way Wikipedia is organised, however Quora does not necessarily advocate objectivity like the online encyclopedia does. With Quora you can be as subjective as you like, it’s your opinion that matters and the object is simply to form some conclusions or consensus from the answers that have been submitted.
So how does it work?
After logging in to Quora you simply look up and follow subjects of interest, initiate questions, answer them or just lurk around watching what everyone else does.
Now question and answer platforms are certainly not new. Internet message boards have been around since the mid nineties but where Quora is obviously different is in the integration of multiple topics within the one platform; eliminating the need for playing the game of search engine hit and miss whilst looking for the right forum to get your question answered. This one-stop-shop factor alone has value, but an added incentive is the ability to follow people on Quora. Not just friends or the guy at work who seems to know everything, but people who are of interest to your interests. People, like experts, who you may otherwise not have access to. Experts who are willing to share their expertise with the general community. In this regard Quora reminds me of an essay length Twitter.
So Quora, is it here to stay or another questionable smedia fly-by-nighter?
Well I don’t have a crystal ball but here are three quick observations:
1. The comment factor.
In the world of blogging comments are gold. They are a sign of influence and worth and there is a similar comment effect on Quora. People will return to see their comments or the comments of the people that they follow. Added to this is the ability to “vote” for answers you ‘like’ and that whole influence/popularity factor is taken a step further.
2. Marketing and Research.
Quora operates on a cluster effect, bunching people together in interest groups. The potential is there for marketing, PR and research. Ask the right questions, drop the right hints, position your answers carefully and then gather the information. Smart people will be able to use this forum to their advantage. To harness that power they will need to continue to contribute. That means returning.
3. For the Quora naysayers.
Yes, I’ve seen plenty of comments flying around the net about Quora such as:
I don’t get it. Ugh,what a waste of time. What on earth do we need another platform like that for?
They were the exact same comments made two and a half years ago about Twitter.
Think about it.
We all used to Google. Maybe soon we will all be Quora-ing.
Or is that Quora-ling?
Maybe I should go to Quora and ask …