Becoming Professional: A Blog

So what is Quora?

Posted on: February 3, 2011


by Horia Varlan

By now, I think we’ve all heard of Quora. Most of us, after hearing about it, asked, “What the heck is it?” The response: “The new Twitter,” or “It’s like Linked In Answers.”  I think those responses lead to false ideas of what Quora is, so after playing with the site for a week or so, here are 6 ways I have seen that Quora is actually quite unlike either Twitter or Linked In.

  1. Follow Answers Not Updates Quora  may be experiencing a whirl-wind popularity growth, but it doesn’t really resemble Twitter at all. The phrase, “The new Twitter” creates a link that’s not really there. On Quora, you only see what your contacts do in regards to the questions. Granted, you can “Post a Message to Your Followers,” but it is not a highlighted function by any means. Granted, the people who originally called it “The new Twitter” probably meant only the popularity growth, but misunderstandings happen.
  2. No Painful Lonely Stage Another way Quora is not Twitter is that it lacks that awkward “now what phase” all new Tweeters go through right after they sign up. They don’t know who to follow or what to Tweet. Quora, on the other hand, immediately asks if you want to follow the people you are following on Twitter. You can build off of all that work you’ve done on the older platform and avoid that painful lonely stage. If you’re not on Twitter, or just adventurous, you can follow categories you are interested in. In this way, Quora is actually more like one of my other favorite networks, Brazen Careerist. You see all questions tagged in that category. Example categories include “Advertising,” “Anime,” and “Neil Patrick Harris.”
  3. by betsyweber

    Relaxed Culture This brings me to how Quora is definitely not Linked In Answers. There’s not really anything professional in the “Anime” or “Neil Patrick Harris” categories. I suppose if you were a TV producer you would have some professional input, but in practice, that’s mostly a fan space. This extends even to the more “professional” categories. The Quora culture is just more relaxed and laid-back. With LI Answers, everyone is trying to show off and vie for the coveted Best Answer recognition. This makes Quora fun and not a task you do for your personal branding. Or whatever reason you have for using Linked In Answers.

  4. Conversations as well as Answers Another difference with Linked In Answers is that on Quora the questions can turn into conversations. In Linked In Answers, you can’t reply to your own question. As far as I can tell, you can in Quora. You can also reply multiple times to the same question, making a conversation possible. It’s a big plus for Quora and I hope they don’t get rid of it.
  5. Lots of Responses Another difference with Linked In Answers is that questions gather answers in multiples of 10. In Linked In Answers, people don’t seem to want to read other people’s responses. Not so in Quora. I happily read what other people had answered, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Of course questions on Linked In Answers can’t really rack up that many responses. They close after about a week. Questions on Quora can stay open forever.
  6. Very Thoughtful The reason why I happily read what others had posted is that the responses are interesting and more thought out than those on Linked In. Not saying the answers on Linked In aren’t good, it’s just that people tend to get more into them on Quora, providing responses that often resemble blog posts more than answers. For instance, one question I enjoyed, “What life lessons are unintuitive or go against common sense or wisdom?” has 41 responses, many quite interesting. The ability to bump good responses up in the list means that you don’t have to hunt for the gems, either, like Digg with web articles.

So in the end, Quora resembles other platforms, but mixes them together to make something new. I’m actually surprised it’s usually only compared to Linked In Answers when there are so many other cool techniques it’s taken from other websites. Of course, Quora will change and grow. It might even just change and fade. They may get rid of the “Post a Message to Your Followers” function or make it more important. But for right now, it is very different from Twitter and Linked In Answers.

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3 Responses to "So what is Quora?"

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tim Tucker and Kate Davids, Kate Davids. Kate Davids said: So what is Quora? New blog post! http://bit.ly/hrmWR5 […]

I think the core value of Quora is it can get inside answers, rather the tech they used.

Definitely agree. It’s always cool to see when the CMO (or whoever high up) of the company mentioned in the question goes on and gives a thoughtful reply.

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Who Am I?

I am a Digital Native who is trying to puzzle out what exactly that means. I share my thoughts on social media, digital business models, and PR here on this blog.

I am currently getting my Masters in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School, having gotten my B.S. in Marketing from Arizona State University. Everything is on track and I am making headway towards my dream: World Domination... or being a productive, helpful citizen and marketer. Whichever comes first.

Don't hesitate to get in touch. I Tweet daily at @KateDavids and also have a science fiction and fantasy blog (maskedgeek.wordpress.com) and Twitter (@Masked_Geek).

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