Quora, the crowdsourced question and answers community has been getting a lot of publicity lately. Purported to be more than just another questions and answers site, Quora is aimed at going beyond a simple forum for questions and answers (like Yahoo Answers) to being more of a brain trust where individuals’ knowledge on a topic is collected and made available to members of the community.
Founded in 2008 by former Facebook executives, the latest social community for business seems destined for big things. Since its inception, Quora has grown steadily and in the last year, user counts have doubled – although according to this compete.com graph, the number of visits is still erratic. Quora doesn’t make user counts available but there are an estimated 200,000 – 500,000 users – according to this Tech Crunch article.
On its website, Quora describes itself as:
” 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.”
It is easy and free to join Quora, simply sign up, enter a few details about yourself and you are off to the races.
Once there you can search questions (put the term you want to search for in the add question box but don’t click enter or you will end up asking a question) and review all related answers, find and connect with others in your community and share your content in other networks.
I’ve always found LinkedIn answers a useful tool for researching blog posts so I thought I would test drive Quora and at the same time do little crowdsourced research for this blog post by asking the question:
How has using Quora benefited you?
It has been several days now and so far there are no answers. Now, this could be because I don’t have many contacts yet, because its not a stimulating enough question or because people haven’t yet decided on the benefits of using Quora. One neat feature of Quora is that it finds and suggests “related questions” that might be of interest. The one answer to the question “What are the benefits of using Quora?” has the short and sweet answer :
You get to read the answers to questions like the following: Quora: Frequently Asked Questions for New Users, Getting Started on Quora: How does the Quora search box work?
In browsing through Quora, I couldn’t fail to notice that it has some very influential users. One question about social media startups had answers from industry pioneers like Robert Scoble: with answers that were both in depth and insightful (and a good read for anyone launching a web startup). Another Quora user, Marc Bodnick lists new and interesting Quora users they have discovered every week and whilst many of these users seem to be centred in the tech community, I was also able to to find questions about such diverse topics as the Vancouver Canucks Stanley Cup chances (go Canucks!), best Croatian Islands and Scotland’s independence.
Some of the downsides to Quora seem to be question regulations, reviews and user administration. Personally, I came across a lot of comments about voting up a question but couldn’t work out how to vote up a great answer far less vote down the crappy ones.
In the longterm, the value of Quora will depend on the quality of both the user base and the answers people provide as well the ease of use and ability to connect with your community. For now, Quora will stay on my radar (join me there!) but I won’t need a daily fix for the foreseeable future.