Quora is a question-and-answer site- much like Yahoo answers or Google groups. Whatever your question, type it in the search box and, if there isn’t already an answer there, users will attempt to answer it.
Why is it suddenly so popular? Because people have noticed that it has a strong preponderance of Silicon Valley’s finest among its users, and that influential people are also using it: Steve Case, the co-founder and former chief executive of AOL, is among those asking and answering questions – any question you like – on the site.
One point that marks Quora out from most other question-and-answer sites, such as the longstanding Yahoo Answers, or WikiAnswers, is that users are expected to use their real names – often derived from Facebook or Twitter. The challenge, Cheever says, is to keep the quality high while growing the site into the mainstream. “Right now, most of the content on Quora is very good,” Cheever told the San Jose Mercury News: “It’s very thoughtful and well written. So as we keep growing, how do we maintain that quality? There’s no one answer.”
Even Google‘s head designer, Irene Au, waded in, saying how much she admired the site’s design. “That’s been a very successful design, not only visually, but also for interaction,” she told the audience at a Zurb design and interaction talk on 27 December. “For a Q&A site, it didn’t turn into a Yahoo Answers with spammy answers. There’s a lot of really rich, high-quality content there. It’s one of my favourite sites to visit on a daily basis now.”
Ehow recorded 90m users and WikiAnswers 81m. The well-publicised, editorial-style Q&A site Mahalo recorded only 8m, according to comScore, and the teen favourite Formspring 958,000.
So far Quora, with a staff of just 12 people, has received $11m in financing, and was valued at $100m in its first round of funding.
How to use Quora
• Register. You can do this using your Facebook profile or Twitter profile.
• Start asking a question by typing in the search box at the top right. You’ll start seeing suggestions for questions that have already been asked (and possibly answered) begin to grow and change as your query continues. Want to know how making red wine differs from the process for white? Here you go.
• If you can add your own answer to an unanswered question, or improve on an already-answered one, do so by adding your own response.
• If you think an answer has been too highly or too lowly ranked, click it up or down. The best answers should therefore rise to the top.
• Start finding people to ‘follow’ by using Facebook and Twitter connections.