How Quora COULD Get Interesting

Swirling a Mystery

I think I finally understand Quora, the social question and answer site. The part I understand is the appeal to users. Essentially, it’s a site where you browse around for questions you think you can answer, and/or you view interesting answers.

That last part was what hooked me. I stumbled into answers by AOL’s former co-founder and CEO, Steve Case. Holy cats. All kinds of people had asked really hard questions of Steve, and he took the time to answer them, and now me, just stumbling into it, had all kinds of amazing information about the heyday, the decline, and everything in between, about AOL.

So, what would make this site amazing and interesting? Participation from more amazing and interesting people would make it stellar. But how you define “amazing” and “interesting” is left up to you. For instance, it’d be great to interview a hundred 90-year-olds about the way things used to be. It’d be interesting to interview old radio pioneers about how things were back in the boom. And it’d be thrilling to get “collections” of these interviews together for easy consumption.

Yep, I think it’s interesting. Not sure how much time I can give to it, but I’ll be fussing around in Quora a little bit longer before I write it off.

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  • http://www.oursocialtimes.com/ Luke Brynley-Jones

    I’ve found the same thing with Quora Chris. But I think that *may* be because it’s dominated by social media types at the moment – so it’s like a mini-social network for geeks! That’s likely to change – and it could lose it allure.

  • http://www.vmrcommunications.com Hugh Macken

    Lots of possibilities with quora, for sure. Personally, I think they need to crowd source not only best answers but best questions.
    What do I mean?
    I’d really like to see quora add something similar to what Digg Dialogg had going (and allowed to fizzle). As much as we all want answers to questions, I think many of us (especially those of us looking to tackle complex problems) realize the value of not only answers to questions, but asking the right questions. Example, when I do a blog talk radio show with say, Christopher Penn, of Blue Sky, about Facebook’s new social inbox, what I need in order to get really good answers from Chris within a short span of time are great questions. When I write a blog post about things to consider when choosing a social media analytics platform, I need good questions FIRST, not answers. Why not crowd source that task using something like quora? Asking the right question can be far more important than looking for the best answer to what you thought (incorrectly) was the most important question. That’s my take. Any questions? ;)

  • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine

    If marketers marketing to marketers marketing to marketers can find a way to ruin it, they will. But it’s a damn sight better than, say, Google Buzz was. Will be cool to see where it all goes.

    • http://www.solobizcoach.com SoloBizCoach

      Michael,

      I agree with you. Marketers tend to ruin every social site. They all want to find a way to make XX off of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, and the list goes on and on.

  • http://twitter.com/iconic88 iconic88

    WOW!!! are we brethren Chris!!! ;)

    I too would luuuuuuurve to see this:
    “it’d be great to interview a hundred 90-year-olds about the way things used to be. It’d be interesting to interview old radio pioneers about how things were back in the boom. And it’d be thrilling to get “collections” of these interviews together for easy consumption.”

    The back story of the back stories. The roots. How things began and how our past can help answer questions of our present and future.

    When I travel this beautiful world, I thoroughly enjoy talking to people who have stories to share. From traditional navigators of the oceans, to traditional healers, rocket scientists, Hollywood actors, sports legends, to YOU.

    Oh and like you, I love Quora! So many interesting people in this world. Quora is a great forum to read these stories.

    Thanks Chris!! and lovin Shepherds Pie ;)

    • JoyceBartel10

      There are so many elders in BoyntonBeach,Delray Beach, Jupiter, Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Pierce, and Boca Raton, FL – just to name a few communities – that you’d be able to ask as many questions as you could. Really, this area is a veritable stomping ground for elderly folks, retirees, re-lo’s …. And there are Historical Societies, too, …and churches…, & supermarket lines. They aren’t often in any hurry, either…you’d hear LOTS!

  • http://raulcolon.net Raul Colon

    I had seen another site that would request questions and I never saw the value in it. I also have to admit the people I saw using these type of service had other motives.

    I guess since access to Quora in on an invitation only basis I will have to wait to partipate. Although by looking at the questions already asked in can serve as a tool to learn more from the people that are already on in it.

    I worked for AOL when it was introduced to Puerto Rico. It was a great experience and I remember all the hype around it. It would have been great to have access to Steve Case at that moment.

    • http://designresumes.com/ Julie Walraven

      I’m not sure if I am confused, Raul but I didn’t find Quora invitation only. You set up a profile, much like LinkedIn and then you can comment, answer, or ask any question you want. I think Quora has a learning curve that I have not yet totally conquered but I know I got there via a tweet to follow a question and then went from there.

  • http://www.experiate.net Paul Flanigan

    Interesting take. It makes me think that Quora can move from simple Q/A into more storytelling/subjective perspective around a topic, especially if you allow luminaries to give their take. It might run the risk of tabloid-ish feel if too many people give it a “I was there, man!” approach, but it could add a dimension that would keep people glued.

  • http://designresumes.com/ Julie Walraven

    I like Quora much better than I like LinkedIn Answers. Perhaps because you don’t need to dig through layers to get there. I could see it as a resource for finding information instead of Google at times only because of the subject matter organization and the obvious experts. But I haven’t learned if there is a search engine to dig through the questions to see if there are answers already available to my questions. Right now I am in the exploration stage of Quora. Like any tool, I think it is all in how you use it to find it valuable.

  • Gracey

    Thank you for the post.

  • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

    Let’s see if it’s the blog killer they say it is. Personally I think it’s going to inspire more writing.

    Thoughts?

    • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

      Much like any other social network, it won’t be a “blog killer” for the same reason other networks haven’t “killed” blogs – ownership. It might take comments away from a blog (much like Twitter and LinkedIn discussions), but at the end of the day, give me control over my content over a third-party that could disappear any day. :)

      • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

        Yea I’m with you on that one.

        I read (on TechCrunch I believe) the feelings were the credibility of Quora would trump bloggers as far as citing new facts. i.e. asking an investor how much they invested, asking a start-up what they were doing, asking a CEO on performance of a company.

        You’re right though – not going to take away the ownership.

        • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

          I think that says more about the blogger than Quora, and citing the right sources (or even getting to them).

          Then again, that’s a bit unfair of TechCrunch (surprise, surprise) since how many of your average bloggers would get access to the CEO of AOL, for example? TC could have used a better analogy, but hey ho. :)

        • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

          I think that says more about the blogger than Quora, and citing the right sources (or even getting to them).

          Then again, that’s a bit unfair of TechCrunch (surprise, surprise) since how many of your average bloggers would get access to the CEO of AOL, for example? TC could have used a better analogy, but hey ho. :)

          • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

            haha – yep!

          • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

            haha – yep!

      • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

        Yea I’m with you on that one.

        I read (on TechCrunch I believe) the feelings were the credibility of Quora would trump bloggers as far as citing new facts. i.e. asking an investor how much they invested, asking a start-up what they were doing, asking a CEO on performance of a company.

        You’re right though – not going to take away the ownership.

    • http://dannybrown.me Danny Brown

      Much like any other social network, it won’t be a “blog killer” for the same reason other networks haven’t “killed” blogs – ownership. It might take comments away from a blog (much like Twitter and LinkedIn discussions), but at the end of the day, give me control over my content over a third-party that could disappear any day. :)

  • http://matthewm.org Matt Medeiros

    Let’s see if it’s the blog killer they say it is. Personally I think it’s going to inspire more writing.

    Thoughts?

  • http://www.proofbranding.com Matt Cheuvront

    In a world where we hardly seem to need ANOTHER social network, I am really digging Quora with my limited experience with it. Pose a question and almost instantly get many varied responses. I see it as an excellent conversation starter, idea harvester, market research tool, and even potential lead generator. It’s tough to disperse time between the multitude of different networks, but I like the concept behind Quora and it’s sucked me in thus far.

  • Kradr2

    A Victor Hugo Function

    Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?…-Potential quote by Victor Hugo

    A system where in questions will automatically go from the particular to the general, vs versa.

    The Lewis Carroll Alice in Wonder Land Socratic Insanity function
    Basically, this is question factory for logical oddities and absurdities. Basically, a Picasso like the lie that reveals the truth production line.

    The the house of mirrors with ghosts function
    UNDER CONSTRUCTION

    The Devils advocate function…… Consider wisely when activating this one folks ! It has a mind of its own and might be what some of you may have a strange fascination for if not out right sadomasticistic . Rubber nut cracker provided.

    • Kradr2

      PS. these are Ai filters in which your questions can be run through to expand , contrast, modify and so on.

    • Kradr2

      PS. these are Ai filters in which your questions can be run through to expand , contrast, modify and so on.

  • Anonymous

    Interesting that you use the phrase “write it off,” as that’s how my alleged daughter described Formspring the other day…

  • http://www.paulylacosta.com Paul L’Acosta

    Oh, darn. And all this time I thought it was just a clever way to keep people adhered to a page as long as possible to maximize advertising value on that interestingly blank sidebar. (But your idea sounds better Chris). Cheers! ~Paul

  • http://www.dogwalkblog.com/ Rufus Dogg

    So far, my experience with Quora is seeing factual questions answered by folks who clearly are not qualified to give answers on the subject, but hop in with their opinions as if they were experts. Quora has a huge potential to be one giant mountain of misinformation. It’s like watching two family members argue for hours at Thanksgiving dinner over the correct spelling of a word when they could simply look it up in a dictionary.

    I suppose it could be used as a celebrity “tell me the back story of xxxx” channel. But that is probably not the point Quora is going for. Or it may be. So far, it is all just entertainment and probably will stay that way as more “experts” join the fray just to hear the sound of their own questionable expertise.

    PS Rufus Dogg IS my real name, Quora. Really, it is so quit trying to enforce your silly rule. Thank you.

    • http://www.idiomstrategies.com/ Christine Fife

      Wikipedia started out with regular folks answering questions that weren’t qualified too and look where they are now. Also consider blogging. As blogging grew to thousands of people being “Joe Schmo” reporters very little was “qualified”, now we get some of our best “news” and information from bloggers that aren’t professional reporters.

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  • http://diyblogger.net/about Dino Dogan

    I find vark way better than quora and vark has been around for 2 years at least. Its really weird to see that star power (Im talking about Zuckerburg and the ilk) can take an unoriginal idea thats poorly executed (vark has way better design and integration imho) and give it momentum.

    Also, Im little put off by the number of people who follow me on quora. I really havent done anything on there to warrant a following and yet I have a ton of people following me. Bots?

  • http://www.idiomstrategies.com/ Christine Fife

    I just started playing with it too. Really interesting. I could see it becoming something like Wikipedia–instead of people posting Encyclopedia-type answers, they answer questions about things.

    I think that Quora’s biggest challenge to get to that point will be to get high page rankings on answers in search engine results.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve been incredibly skeptical about Quora, but you do make some good points.

  • http://TheSmallBusinessTranscriptionist.com/ Erica Cosminsky

    I think Quora is neat after you figure it out. I think they do an horrible job of explaining their service.

    If you look at their Twitter idea they offer no explanation but a link. The website doesn’t explain what they offer anywhere either. Unless you go to third party blogs you have to figure it out. Not many people will do that unless they are really interested.

    • http://www.joshchandlerva.com Josh Chandler

      Erica,

      If you give them a little more time, I am sure they will have that issue of Twitter connectivity sorted in no time. :)

  • http://TheSmallBusinessTranscriptionist.com/ Erica Cosminsky

    I think Quora is neat after you figure it out. I think they do an horrible job of explaining their service.

    If you look at their Twitter idea they offer no explanation but a link. The website doesn’t explain what they offer anywhere either. Unless you go to third party blogs you have to figure it out. Not many people will do that unless they are really interested.

  • http://twitter.com/schwartzsheldon Sheldon Schwartz

    I like the idea of it as an interview site of sorts. Should there be video? The openness for what it could be is cool for sure.

  • Anonymous

    What I find most interesting, or perhaps, what is most suggestive for growth, is that there is a very strong interaction aesthetic there that they have been successful in establishing. It is just this kind of thing that promotes an anchored community of users and growth, a real sense of environment. Part of it is the simple, clean aesthetic (in vogue these days), and part of it is the rigorous testing for reading comprehension before asking a question, high language standards (without much exclusionary snobbery) and the repeated emphasis on grammar, distinguishing it from a vast number of other internet spaces. These thresholds which seem pretty firmly monitored – a grammatical use of “concatenate” in an Excel question I had (?!) was edited by a etymology maven – and then re-edited after a check with with the OED, coupled with the UI, create the dictionary-of-questions feel that really might be appropriated and fused to other media and resources.

    That seems to be the double path: build a sense of community with committed users expressing an aesthetic, and make the result harvestable and linkable by other media services. Will it be long before Quora questions top Google organic searches?

  • http://ideagirlmedia.com/ Keri J

    I’ve just gotten going with Quora, myself. I like that they encourage personal authenticity, and that they offer re-direction on questions.

    What I’m not excited about: I’ve tried to connect my blog many times, and know my information is correct, and yet their system won’t accept it. I’d be tempted to ask the “why” question there, but hesitate as I do not want to seem unfriendly. ;)

    To respond to Dino Dogan – I don’t know if I’m following you on Quora or not. However, I do know that when I went in to respond to a message you were trending as a topic. Did they notify you of that?

    Thanks for the post, Chris!

  • Anonymous

    I have used it for some time, and have personally found it a great resource for tapping some insightful info.

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  • http://brianjohnriggs.wordpress.com Brian John Riggs

    I read your post first thing this morning while on a flight to Atlanta and couldn’t help but think about your concluding comments – about adding historical perspective through content to a site like Quora. Perhaps there is an opportunity for the Library of Congress to integrate their oral history, folklore, or veterans projects to programs like this one. As an avid fan of history I’m still waiting for the beginning of an integration of historical perspective (and content) in mainstream media and communication. And as a relatively new user to Quora (as in tonight) I find it a terrific platform to mine information.

  • http://nothingbutsocnet.blogspot.com/ Zena Weist

    It’s very hard to walk away from Quora. I just wanna dig and dig and dig…I’m thinking it’s community sourcing to the nth degree. Agree, it’s going to be hard to carve out time but I get so much info, back story, inside story, history, etc. from it, I WANT to contribute. It’s sticky in that Q&A-here’s-my-perspective-now-provide-your-take convo way. I’m a fan.

    • http://www.joshchandlerva.com Josh Chandler

      Zena,

      Do you mind that the format of a Q&A site doesn’t guarantee instant response?

      The one big benefit of a Q&A site is that huge databases of knowledgable experts can form informative pages.

      • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine

        I saw a question on there today where someone asked “What do you think the
        top ten blah blah blah’s are going to be? Here’s my ten to get things
        started.”

        Everybody responded with “ooh nice information” but nobody answered the
        question, because it wasn’t a question. It was a deceptive trick to get an
        outright blog post onto Quora.

        I called the author out on it and it felt exactly like a drop of water
        landing in the ocean.

      • http://nothingbutsocnet.blogspot.com/ Zena Weist

        I hadn’t thought about the “instant” response., Josh..you know, there’s so much on-demand expectation in our social sphere that I’ve come to expect at least near-time even with Q&A sites. I think the intriguing thing with Quora is the pulse conversation with folks talking their trade, their passions…the knowledgeable experts rise to the top through rating, etc.

        I still think there’s a need for the database info we all love to tap on the web of course…the convo element is what keeps me engaged with Quora…make sense?

  • Anonymous

    Still now i didn’t use this social networking site.. I will try this one.. Thanks for sharing this information..
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  • DaraBell

    Hi Chris,

    I think it has to better than Yahoo answers and even Formspringme. I find I am the creepy old guy in Formspring to steal an expression. I think Zena Weist is right about the community aspect. I think actually think that is what were looking for right now!

    I think Brian John Riggs makes a nice point to about Librabry Of congress, could we ask questions of our Congressman or Members Of Parliament. Participative democarcy. Also I think for an entrepeneur, brand marketeer. It offers us opportunities to Crowdsource ideas.

    Erica Cosminsky makes a great point about how Social Networks explain their service. I feel this is a challenge for alot of Social Networks. They just do not explain what they offer, which is just not businesslike.

    Thanks

    Dara

  • DaraBell

    Aftherthought
    Formspringme has too many kids. I think Qoura will do well with over 25 group. Also has a killer community idea, it should encourage such too.

  • http://carolweinfeld.com/ Carol L. Weinfeld

    It will be interesting to see how brands utilize Quora. They could read what consumers think about them and/or have a spokesperson answer questions.

    @clweinfeld

    • http://www.RevenueLoan.com ChristianSays

      I was actually in the process of getting funding for a product exactly like this… and then Quora came out. Bugger.

      • http://carolweinfeld.com/ Carol L. Weinfeld

        Sorry to hear that. Keep trying or inventing.

    • http://www.RevenueLoan.com ChristianSays

      I was actually in the process of getting funding for a product exactly like this… and then Quora came out. Bugger.

    • http://www.joshchandlerva.com Josh Chandler

      Carol,

      Personally I think the data stream of Twitter and even Facebook is more valuable then Quora will ever be.

      However, if Quora gets mainstream attention that could change.

      • http://carolweinfeld.com/ Carol L. Weinfeld

        Agreed.

      • http://carolweinfeld.com/ Carol L. Weinfeld

        We will have to wait and see how Quora develops.

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  • http://personalnetwork.wordpress.com Phil O’Brien

    Thanks for the great post – as always! Personally, I am enjoying Quora – and have found some very useful questions and answer on topics that currently interest me (like “What is the perfect startup team?”). I think it will be most suited to people with specific expertise (probably of international interest) in a niche. So, for example, I’ve recommended it to a pal who is a real mine of information on IPTV and general broadcast/TV strategy.

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  • http://www.joshchandlerva.com Josh Chandler

    Tamar,

    Totally agree. The life span of Quora is going to be short and sweet.

  • Anonymous

    I’m registered… I want to use it… I’ve even seen how it can be an excellent tool. Right now I’m just trying to keep up with my current SM. How the heck do you have time?

  • Anonymous

    I’m registered… I want to use it… I’ve even seen how it can be an excellent tool. Right now I’m just trying to keep up with my current SM. How the heck do you have time?

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  • http://twitter.com/charityestrella Estrella Rosenberg

    I think there’s some potential here for businesses, depending on your industry. Say, for example, if you had an online fee-based membership learning community (ahem!) and people weren’t sure whether the advice they’d be getting in the forums would truly be helpful or worth it, having the host and main team for said learning community post some helpful, thoughtful answers could be smart. Just answers, no sales pitch (but a bio that includes a link to said learning community)

    I just found my way into Quora a few hours ago for the first time, but that’s the potential I saw.

    Something I’d want to explore for 501 Mission Place if I was Chris Brogan or Estrella Rosenberg. Wait… ;)

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  • http://zachcole.com Zach Cole

    I love Quora. I’ve found it very useful to search for answers to questions that I have, from an audience that I trust a bit more than just Googling the search query.

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  • http://www.peoplebrowsr.com PeopleBrowsr

    Hi there,

    I, too, am fascinated by Quora. I could spend hours browsing question after question after question. However, like you, I don’t know how much time I can dedicated to it (definitely not near as much time as I would like). I’m wondering if the questions and anwers will keep coming? If so, I have hours of “wishing I had time to browse” before me.

    Cheers ☺

    Jen (& the PeopleBrowsr Team)

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  • http://www.magento-themes.jextn.com Magento Themes

    To be honest, this is the first time I am hearing of Quora. I would first visit it and then get back to you with whatever I have learned, which may help you.