Image from: Asking Questions / Shutterstock
At the beginning of the internet, if you needed to know something you also needed to know where to look for it. Nowadays finding information is a totally different game; you just need to know how to ask. You say to yourself, “Hmm. How would someone knowledgeable about this information phrase a title? What words would they use? What jumble of words do I type into that search bar, and how many pages of results do I sift through before I find what I need?”
Naturally business has gathered itself around the human tendency to publicize curiosity. Likewise, other ventures have formed around the tendency to respond openly to it. Some sites even depend on crowdsourcing for the answers to your questions, which is both useful and perhaps a bit perilous (for instance, what happens when you ask for a summary of a book you did not read, and the author himself responds with a chiding comment?).
I’m here to bring our critical eye back to a question-and-answer social network site we’ve mentioned before: Quora.com, where following of friends and famous people is a feature, along with tracking topics of interest. With a follow function in place all the results of your inquiries are siphoned onto your homefeed. Cool, right? And trustworthy, because the answers you are receiving are the answers you’ve chosen to receive from people you trust. Self-selection is requisite to Quora, making the site a proactive community based in learning, and not just a free-for-all.
Last August we tested to see how Quora was doing compared to a few of the top question-and-answer sites. One year later and it doesn’t look like too much has changed in the broader comparison. But if you take a look at Quora’s specific UVs alone, their upward trend is clearly visible.
This is not to say that Quora is not comparable to some bigger players. It might not be visible in their UVs, but Quora is actually attracting a more focused audience than a few of the other sites. Quora had an average stay metric of 5:05 minutes in June, dropping to 2:40 in July. This is on par with, and sometimes above, the other sites as seen in the same comparative set.
Quora is doing what it sought to do, which is to bring together a more focused platform for how we answer questions online using the community paradigm. With the whole of the internet humming just beneath your fingertips, it’s easy to become skeptical of the information you find. Quora seeks to reduce this skepticism by playing off the theory that people will trust other people over a faceless network, and that people are especially prone to trust when they’re referencing a person they’ve elected to follow themselves. What we’ve always known is that it’s all about personalization. Hopefully Quora will continue to pick up speed without shifting its community out of focus.
Ryan La Sala joins Compete as the Digital Marketing Co-op for Compete.com, sovereign of all things social media. Ryan is a current attendant of Northeastern University, dual-majoring in Cultural Anthropology and International Affairs (with minors in Biology and Psychology), with career interests in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Consumer Anthropology. Aside from acquiring aspirations with big words, Ryan’s other interests include reading cheesy fiction, writing in any capacity, singing and cooking. Find Ryan on twitter @Ryality or connect with him on LinkedIn.