Usability-first Search Engine Optimization

Why Quora isn’t Just a Flash in the Pan

Quora isn't Just another flash in the Pan!

I’ve been using Quora on an almost daily basis for the last couple of months and I love it. The culture is great; it reminds me a bit of the freenode IRC network (minus the real-time factor). People have hung out in the same IRC channels on the same networks for years, and think the same will be true for Quora. It’s a real niche environment.

How Quora sets itself apart from the crowd of similar communities is best described by them:

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.

I don’t think that the spammier folks will ruin it either, simply because of a lower tolerance in this type of community for garbage. Useless posts will just be voted down and/or idiotic members banned.

How does Quora compare with X?

With the aim of becoming a collection of answers produced in a wiki fashion, Quora sets itself apart from question and answers sites such as Yahoo! Answers, which is primarily centered around, well, the answering of questions. Quora is focused more on what’s being discussed right now and on becoming a longterm, quality resource.

Those that have compared Quora with Twitter have obviously not looked that deeply under the hood. Aside from the not so immediately obvious differences, there are some glaring ones:

  • There can be only so much depth to engaging within 140 characters or less.
  • Quora allows for much easier segmentation of contacts and topics.
  • The number of people involved in a single discussion isn’t dependent on who’s following you.

Quora is very similar to stackoverflow, a question and answer site for programmers, and the latter still is probably the best option if you’re looking for that type of hacker knowledge base.

I haven’t quite made my mind up about the ‘follow’ feature yet. I’m hoping Quora will add some functionality that compliments it such as feed filtering.

Where is Quora going?

As long as Quora maintains its relatively high standards of discourse, I believe it will continue to gain popularity as the go-to place for what’s being talked about in now, and on a slightly more elevated intellectual plain than many other popular discussion platforms.

If the typical internet users that sometimes lack good sense or netiquette start invading Quora on a mass scale—similar to the Eternal September of 1993, when an influx of new Usenet users appeared thanks to free accounts supplied by AOL— hopefully the downvoting system will help retain the site’s value.

Final thoughts

Whatever your interests are, if you want to engage with like-minded individuals to learn, teach, or grow, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy Quora. If you’re looking for another place to pitch your self-serving, veiled promotional message, you’ll probably find yourself doing more harm than good.

As I expressed recently in an answer on quora:

The main attraction of knowledge sharing, or Knowledge Networking is the knowledge. If you’re primarily seeking “followers” in social spaces, you’ll mostly be ignored. On the surface, this might seem ironic, but it makes complete sense: you don’t find happiness by looking for it directly, you chance upon it as a result of doing something else.

Connect with me on Quora.

About matt

Matthew Edward is the founder of Springboard SEO, a usability-first search engine optimization company in Montreal.