I first discovered Quora just a few months ago, and quickly grew addicted. When searching for opinions, recent history, or even anything involving the tech world, Quora becomes my first stop. The site’s main strength lies in the quality of its users who also create quality questions and answers. Many of these users are Silicon Valley insiders, and for a while, Quora was the next big thing. Whether that is still the case can be debated, but Quora has a lot of collected knowledge that is easily accessible.
Quora looks similar to many other Q&A sites, and indeed, the basic format hasn’t changed. However, a few things Quora handles particularly well are the profile, the feed, and the search. When starting an account, Quora emphasizes ties to either Twitter or Facebook and insists that you use your real name. The real identity becomes especially important as your name and title accompany each answer. While anonymous answers and questions are an option, a real identity and relevant title greatly increase the answer’s credibility. This becomes particularly important when insiders answer questions about their company, often the case for questions about Quora itself, Twitter, or even Google.
Much like Facebook’s newsfeed (the two founders came from Facebook, after all), Quora provides questions and answers that should be relevant for each user. Not only can users follow topics, but they can also follow other users or particular questions to be notified of any new answers. As you develop your interests, the newsfeed becomes more interesting to explore as new things are constantly popping up.
The search bar at the top helps users find the content they need with suggestions much like Google’s, and by combining search with the question input field, redundant questions also get rooted out. Quora seeks to keep duplicate questions out, so users only have to find one place for the information they need. Once the right question is found, the answers are ranked by various up-votes and down-votes much like Digg, so the relevant information comes easily.
These features, an overall smooth performance, and a little bit of the right publicity have created a user experience that attracted many of the Silicon Valley insiders that laud the service. This emphasis has helped create valuable and high-quality content in a relatively niche subject. However, the scope of this subject has reached beyond just the tech world. Other topics such as politics, food, science, movies and business have good followings that have developed high quality answers. Already, I have found Quora to be a great way to learn about new topics such as cooking and real estate at a moderate depth. This way, you gain a little personality in your answers and also avoid much of the lower quality advice that can creep to the top of some Google searches.
I happen to eat through Quora’s content like candy, and there doesn’t seem to be an end to it in sight. However, I rarely feel guilty about spending my time there as I’m constantly learning new things, finding new viewpoints, or keeping up on relevant topics. If you are unfamiliar with this site, I strongly suggest you check it out. Chances are you’ll learn something.
Posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011
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