Quora, what is it good for?

Now that the hyperbole has calmed down and most of us have finally turned off our new follower email updates, I’d like to take stock of what happened during those days of madness.

First, let’s look at some of the gushing praise that came out of the UK press for this new social darling. There was “Quora will be bigger than Twitter” from The Telegraph which, quite frankly, bordered on idol worship and “Quora: the hottest question-and-answer website you’ve probably never heard of” from The Guardian which at least seemed a little more balanced.

I can’t blame the papers, with the ever increasing number of citizen journalists who can provide the news faster and with less bias, any story has to be jumped on quick to ensure that they are seen to be relevant. Both however were keen to point out that it was the strong preponderance of Silicon Valley’s finest among its users that has led to Quora’s sudden success.

It was this fact that, I felt, led to the second thing I’d like to talk about… the backlash!

Twitter was alight with people complaining about the number of emails and alerts that were being pumped out from Quora, questioning it’s usefulness and posting comedy questions to the Quora platform itself (myself included).

Spurred on by @henweb

Quietly impressed by @StuartWitts‘ one-man mission to fill Quora with nonsensical song lyrics and TV references… 😀 via CoTweet

I also decided to start a hashtag meme.

In honor of Quora, please join me in tweeting your favourite question songs. I shall begin with… What Time Is Love? #quorasongsless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

There were a few mentions and a little flurry from @JimJar, but nothing of note. What was it about Quora that had led to these strong negative feelings? Perhaps I should’ve asked Quora? But most of my questions weren’t being answered.

As I am sure you are aware, there are numerous question and answer sites on the web each with their own unique approach. But by seemingly having the nod from the ‘right’ people in tech, Quora had hurdled everyone to become the new kid on the block.

Was there an element of jealously winding it’s way through the community? It seems so unfair that this particular startup should get so much attention simply because of it’s high profile users. Users who are as guilty as the rest of us for jumping on new platforms and services for fear of being left behind.

These users that are SO keen to answer our questions on Quora are the same people who would be unlikely to even give us the time of day on a REAL social network like Twitter, the mere thought of investing time in something so ephemeral that doesn’t offer the same SEO ranking possibilities as a question and answer site like Quora would be unthinkable.

For me, the organised, almost dictatorial approach of Quora to its content leaves me feeling cold. Having a moderator change my uppercase ‘SO’ (which I added for emphasis) to lowercase simply because it didn’t follow their grammar guidelines left a bad taste in my mouth. I desire serendipity, and the warming embrace of friends who seek no more reward for listening to my ramblings, chatting and answering my questions than the feeling of good inside.

P.S. If you DO feel like answering/asking some questions, why not try Cofacio. You may not get the same SEO benefits as Quora, but you WILL be raising money for charitable causes and that’s GOT to be a better thing.

Thank you to @GaryDayEllison for the title of this piece and to everyone who took part in the #quorasongs meme on Twitter, you bring genuine joy to my days.