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Why Quora is in trouble (attackofdesign.com)
143 points by sgdesign on July 17, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 83 comments

You can count me as one of the long-term Quora detractors. To me, it's a good example of the "bubble effect". Everyone in the Valley thinks its huge because everyone in the Valley uses it.

No one outside the Valley does (figuratively speaking).

It's a thin social layer on what's just a Q&A site not that different to Yahoo Answers, which I guess is fine but I just don't see it going mainstream.

As an aside, I've always said--and I maintain--that I don't see Stackoverflow/StackExchange going mainstream either.

Ultimately I see the end for both companies being a Google or Facebook buyout in the $X00,000,000 range, which I think says more about the overall market than it does their inherent value.

EDIT: let me add regarding SO/SE that I think the SO model works great for programmers but my point--which I didn't put very well--was that I don't see that same tagging/voting/self-organizing model necessarily translating that well to other verticals. I guess time will tell.

Although I agree that Stack[Overflow|Exchange] will never been a mainstream site, I think there's an important difference in that SO is very useful to the community that it does support.

They've really nailed the technical question 'problem' to the point that my day-to-day job would be measurably harder without it, and so as the poster says I can easily imagine paying for added-value features there.

Quora, not so much. Although I really doubt the solution is to add more eye-candy to the page design. Sheesh, web designers. ;-)

From the article:

"The site is visually bland: there’s barely any color or images, and you won’t find any effect fancier than rounded corners."

Somebody please save us from the attack of web design. If I see another gradient rounded flashing Javascript-enabled button for gradient rounded flashing Javascript-enabled buttons' sake, I'm gonna hurl, Wayne's World style.

Flashing buttons? Sounds like you're frequenting some dark alleys. Make sure your anti-virus is up-to-date.

agreed. look at craigslist - about as unsexy a design as you could imagine, but it solves real problems for people, and they use it constantly. quora - not so much, and fancier buttons and UI won't really change that.

His point wasn't about making it more fancy but rather, less sterile. Even Craigslist has more character.

Well, to be fair there was a certain kind of logic behind my "shiny buttons will save Quora" argument:

1) Pivot 2) Redesign 3) Existing members come for the redesign and stay for the new Quora, thus giving the new strategy a chance.

Although you could say that when all you have is Photoshop, every site looks like it needs to be redesigned… ;)

I think Stack Exchange has a much better chance of going mainstream, but by going through the side entrance, not through the front door. Some of the SE sites will fail (a handful already have), but others will be successful in their niche. By keeping the focus small in each community, they're making much more useful sites. I think a lot of people will end up using SE sites without really knowing or caring that they're at an SE site.

Disclosure: As a Stack Overflow moderator, I'm quite biased.

No one outside the Valley [uses Quora]

I'll validate that: I've barely heard of it. I've never visited, and it never seems to turn up in Google or DDG searches.

It doesn't show up in searches because for a long time the whole site was noindexed. Think they changed this, but considering the whole site is designed much like an SEO spamfest (tags, ridiculous hierarchy), it didn't make a whole lot of sense.

I'm also a long-term Quora skeptic -- and have been documenting the reasons why in the comments at http://bit.ly/imitates#comments for the last six months. Agreed about the likely outcome; hard to know about the valuation.

And agreed with the other commenters that StackExchange/StackOverflow is in a very different situation. It's hard to know whether or not they'll get to "mainstream"; but they don't necessarily have to in order to be a very successful company. And they've got a huge advantage of several topics where they are one of the best resources on the web -- and an much larger active community than Quora.

Unobfuscated non-Libyan link: http://www.talesfromthe.net/jon/?p=2332#comments

"Ultimately I see the end for both companies being a Google or Facebook buyout in the $X00,000,000 range, which I think says more about the overall market than it does their inherent value."

Can you explain how a site like Quora would be worth at least $100,000,000 to Google, Facebook, or anyone else?

Aardvark's acquisition by Google for $50M about 18 months, back when the market wasn't as bubblicious as it is now, is one comparable. http://redmonk.com/sogrady/2010/02/12/aardvark-google/ looks at why that valuation arguably made sense. Aardvark had $6M invested, Quora's got $11M.

Like I said in my other comment, not sure what valuation makes sense, so I'm not convinced it'll be in the X00,000,000 range... but it's not impossible.

"Everyone in the Valley thinks its huge because everyone in the Valley uses it."

My techie friends from Silicon Valley also don't use Quora. So don't worry, not everyone in Valley uses it. I think very few % of Valley users are using it.

math.stackexchange.com and mathoverflow.net are working well, from what I can see, so the model works in at least one area outside of programming.

Mathoverflow has become a place where serious mathematicians go to discuss research level mathematics, and some of the world's top mathematicians ask and answer questions there (including at least a couple Field's medalists).

Isn't stack overflow in the top 100 sites in terms of traffic? While it might not be mainstream, it's already huge.

You are basing that on Alexa? Alexa will always over-report sites like Stackoverflow, because lots of SEO people (who use the Alexa toolbar) use it.

Google trends gives a better view. Here is is related to other sites that (according to Alexa) have similar traffic: http://trends.google.com/websites?q=stackoverflow.com%2C+dou...

FYI, I'm very engaged with Quora, and I live in Chile http://www.quora.com/Carlos-Leiva-Burotto and through Quora I made networking with a guy who works on Mauritian Island.. that's in the front of Madagascar!!!! Not even through Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Flickr, etc I engaged with someone from that place!!

So Quora is definitely a worldwide tool and the active members are not only people from SV.

You should definitely open your mind to not see only the things that you want to see.

Regarding Stack Exchange, I understand (and agree) with your view that there are lots of verticals it won't work in. But do you think programming is the only vertical in which it can work?

My view is, the model will work well for some places, badly for others, and that's perfectly fine - for the places it works well, it works really well. For the others, other solutions will be thought up.

How does a 9-figure exit prediction make you a Quora detractor?

StackOverflow, because of its subject matter will never be mainstream, but I it's immensely popular among those in the programming community, and that's a pretty huge market.

I don't think StackOverflow is really trying to be a general, mainstream Q&A site, largely because there is no mainstream when it comes to Q&A sites. When you go to one of these sites, you don't want your question to be answered by a generalist, you want a specialist with domain knowledge to answer your question.

Looking at it that way, the StackExchange model makes sense. Make a number of very specialized communities that experts can congregate in. Make a points system that rewards experts for their time and effort. Finally, invest in making the site friendly to search engines, so that non-experts can find the experts and ask questions of them.

Right, Stack Overflow itself can never be mainstream by definition, but cletus is talking about the (slightly) larger Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites that SO is a part of.

I was once a heavy quora user. Here's what drove me away (I do still use it but I no longer 'hang out' there): the overwhelming pretentiousness and self-righteousness of many within the very early core userbase who, because I was in that early group, dominate my feed (don't know if they dominate for others...). You can only read so many "what does it feel like to be dumb" or "if i went to Harvard how should I respond to 'where did you go to school?' without offending the asker?" without rolling your eyes and writing the entire thing off as a circle-jerk for the self-appointed hipster elite. These people suck and unfortunately quora has rewarded them with upvotes and therefore influence. Otherwise I think the site is great and useful for very niche/obscure questions that google cannot answer well.

Several people also mentioned the "Quora elite's" attitude as a big problem in a thread that Thomas Hawk started on Google+ a couple of weeks ago: https://plus.google.com/104987932455782713675/posts/XXp28NN4...

Here's what I don't understand about Quora - at the end of the day, all of the arguments in favor of why Quora is so good, especially arguments put forward by Robert Scoble, boil down to one thing: lots of interesting people post to it.

Now, I'm not saying that's necessarily bad or easy to pull off - hell, Hacker News itself is the same, in that I only use it because of the great people here.

I just don't see how you can take it mainstream.

It's not so much that no one outside of the valley uses it, it's that, if people outside of the Valley DID use it, no one would like it anymore!

That's not a good position to be in.

It's a decent position to be in - perhaps not if you have dreams of mass market grandeur, but otherwise, Quora is a success.

Totally agree. It's about direct "to the source" answers, not about the functionality. Adoption versus adaptation.

Quora is extremely useful. It eliminates a lot of my visits to about.com style websites and replaces them with structured q&a. It also adds a layer of transparency (you can see who has answered a question, their 'credentials') and get a feel for who to trust.

It's quick and the answers to any questions so far have been insightful. I fail to see how structuring all q&a dispersed over the web to a centralised site is a bad thing?

In addition Quora facilitates learning over time for topics and even individual questions I am interested. I absolutely love the follow topic & question features, i've learned a lot about topics I am passionate about using them. Information I probably would never have been able to find in any other way prior to Quora.

I think this leaves the question-space STILL open.

I've never tried Quora and never would use it because I never use my main Facebook profile for anything else (I like Facebook, I hate Facebook's idea of non-privacy).

Stackoverflow once was useful but has basically died as far as I can tell (answer quality plummeting as users become addicted to easy-low-quality-answers-as-a-way-quick-Karma and thus let any hard question sink fast).

Googling to answer technical questions has gotten less rewarding as well as Google becomes less literal and thus prevents me from doing fine-tuned filter when I don't immediately get the right answer.

So what could appear in the answer domain? (and think this domain is still quite large).

I've also felt in the last couple of months that the quality of answers on StackOverflow seem to be degrading and that the site seems to be becoming less ... tidy.

+1 regarding the Google searches as well.

While i agree with the thrust of the post, the argument is severely undercut at the point where the author writes that Quora's problem is that it doesn't solve a problem, and then immediately turns to observation that twitter doesn't solve a problem either, and is wildly successful.

This is not cogent writing :P

True, that was not very well written. I meant to say that not solving a well-defined problem is not always a death sentence (see: Twitter, Reddit, etc.), but that it's still not a very encouraging sign.

Twitter arguably solved a problem we didn't know we had. Reddit - that solved a problem we did have, same problem as HN does.

yeah, i think that you should probably leave that point out unless you have a good way to connect having an obvious purpose and success.

> Twitter didn’t solve any real problem

I automatically discounted your entire argument based on those six words. If you're still unable to see the problem that Twitter solved, then you shouldn't be writing about tech, media or related.

Ok. I'll bite: What problem do you feel Twitter solved?

To date, it's the most reliable, worldwide accesible, short-messaging, real-time propagation system that we've developed. Hands down, it has no competition. Not radio, not TV, not satellite communication and certainly not through any corporate-owned mouthpiece. It discounts trends, rumors, celebrity-induced Mass Sociogenic Illness or cheap propaganda.

It solved the problem of truthful dissemination through independent social verification.

If you did no not know that there was a problem with the truth as it was delivered to us prior to 2009 (which is when Twitter got its wheels) then you are one ignorant summbitch. Downvote for stupidity.

>then you are one ignorant summbitch. Downvote for stupidity.

You couldn't have answered the question without that bit?

ah yes how did we forget. thanks to twitter all the information we receive is unfiltered from the source and no one lies.

I've tried to use Quora couple of times but I really don't see the point of it. If you want to ask a programming question, you get an answer on Stackoverflow immediately and Stackoverflow is designed specifically for that purpose whereas Quora's design isn't good enough for programming questions. It doesn't even do syntax highlighting. For me, Quora is one step away from a forum.

His reference article (on Evaporative Cooling Effect) is a lot more enlightening: http://blog.bumblebeelabs.com/social-software-sundays-2-the-...

I've found Quora very useful. I love its visual/functional design.

However, the vulcan/robot approach to quality, and hints of a esoteric level of people and rules that really controls things, are off-putting. They limit its mass-appeal, as a place to participate.

Maybe that's not a problem. Maybe there's a niche for the 'elite-university' of question-answering, creating evergreen quality content and attracting a large read-only audience across many years, and any number of Google ranking updates. That's a different outcome from some of the Quora-triumphalism that accompanied its early popularity... but still a good outcome, for the web and for Quora's users/employees/investors.

Interesting. I always felt Quora was overdesigned, as if I couldn't move my mouse anywhere on the page without triggering some sort of hover effect. Drove me absolutely crazy.

Slightly off topic.. I feel the same way with google results now, which is a bit ironic since google used to be all about elegance and simplicity.

I've had serious problems with the flow for things like signing in and password recovery. I signed in with Twitter - I think - now when I go back, they're asking for an email? No idea which I used and I can't find any emails from Quora, so my account is lost. I've never had such a problem with any other site.

I'm stuck in the same pit. I've tried logging in a few times and can never seem to get back in.

I think SE can go mainstream. I don't say SO because that's more for programmers. I see lots of activity in say photography and cooking. I can see lots of academia using SE as well, just look at all the theory related exchanges. I think the biggest downfall of Quora is the login and sign up process. I don't even want to deal with it because SE makes it so easy. I can sign in with my google account and then go to another exchange and click a few times and sign up there. I automatically get 100 points because i am signed up on SO with over 100 points. This makes it so i don't even have to start all the way over. I just think because it's so easy to sign up and login on SE, that it could be mainstream. You can use any login service.

Only problem with SE are the rules. I know why they are there, but for a new user it can be intimidating. A lot of people may not ask a question because they are afraid they will get "bullied", "trolled" or whatever you want to call it.

Correct me if I'm wrong but Quora seems to be useful only to those who have been invited to join it. It's not really a public-facing site in the way every other Q&A site on the internet is.

So I'd say it's even less useful than Yahoo Answers. I can't remember even once, googling for a question and getting a Quora page in the search results.

This is my experience too. All the people who are members have no idea how useless the site is to the rest of us. The only time I ever visit Quora is by direct link from HN. It never comes up in search engine responses, and they have no native search feature. To me, it's just a box with a login form (which I don't have) and a signup page (which tells me to sod off). How will the world live without it!?

I see a lot of comments about how Quora is only providing value or attracting users in the valley and while I hate anecdotal premises that are used as support for arguments, I live in the midwest and over three quarters of my friends use Quora on a daily basis.

I don't see it as a direct competitor to Facebook or Stackoverflow, but instead as filling a niche unto itself. I can't speak to the value it adds for all subject matter categories, but for the ones that I am most interested in (startup entrepreneurship, technology, mathematics) it has some incredibly thought-provoking questions and answers.

The biggest value that I get from Quora is not when I am looking for a specific answer, but the serendipity of scrolling through my favorite topics to find questions that I wouldn't have thought to ask.

If Quora died, it would be a sad day for the world's intellectual curious.

i think the biggest problem with Quora is that it was hyped up to be more than it was. It's just a Q&A site, and it was hyped up as being a Facebook killer.

Quora is hardly going mainstream because mainstream cannot ask the questions that Quora elite would answer. Not that they don't have the ability but they don't care! If it does ever it'll be called Yahoo Answers.

I'm agnostic about the longterm prospects for Quora, but this article is not compelling at all.

"It's not the next big thing anymore" is silly and could be applied to anything other than Google+ (according to this analyst). Web startups aren't zero-sum and there's no evidence provided that Google+ has harmed Quora's momentum. They aren't even direct competitors.

"It doesn't solve a problem" is a strange objection. Quora attempts to solve a few problems, perhaps most prominently that some questions that you want answered can't be answered with a google search. A lot of the other functionality is built around facilitating their solution to that problem. They foster a community and social features in order to keep quality answerers engaged.

The last two are just ways of saying "I don't like this" and don't amount to threats to Quora's success. They have a serious brand, and this guy likes playful brands. It's not interesting to him because he hasn't added interesting topics to follow, and that's Quora's fault because they haven't suggested those topics to him. The subset of users who insist on playful brands and who just can't think of topics their interested in isn't big enough to bring down a company like Quora.

The suggestion, to turn Quora into Hacker News, would basically mean forgoing their purpose and vision in a last-ditch effort to leverage the community they've built. Not a smart idea (or a likely one).

Sorry to nitpick, but is this guy really making a point that a site with a bland design ( = no rounded corners and gradients) isn't fun to use?

My interpretation was that he thinks the design is bland and the site no fun to use, implying no causuality.

My point is that some sites are fun to use because of their visual design, some because of their interactions, some because of game mechanisms… but Quora has none of these.

I can imagine that sites appear to be fun to use, initially, because of a great design, but I really have a hard time believing that they really become fun to use.

Like a game with awesome graphics and sucky gameplay, people play them for a day and then get rid of it.

The thing that annoys me most about Quora is how many of the questions are leading questions.

…and they're usually asked anonymously too!

I always just assumed that most of them are rhetorical setups asked using a sockpuppet by the user that made the long and involved answer ranked at the top of the page.

"twitter solves no problem"

I stopped reading there. staying informed is a real problem. It is just one twitter solves. Entertainment is not a problem but a desire, and another one that twitter satisfies. Quora works for both as well. I trust what I read on quora

To me, Quora felt like a big blog site, where nitty people spent hours of writing nitty comments and the 'question' just set the topic. Quora was never that interesting as a pure Q&A site. If you ask practical, unsexy questions you will get a hard time getting answers from anyone - because writing blog-like comments for trivial questions isn't worth it.

I think that G+ has the advantage over Quora in that it skips the whole Q&A dance but still allows these early adopters to do what they really care about: to be heard.

The author wrote, 'Facebook solves the problem of how to stay in contact with your 250 "friends". Twitter solves... well, ok, Twitter didn’t solve any real problem, but has still grown to become extremely useful.'

How can something be useful and not solve a problem? Twitter is such a great soapbox for complaints that many companies have felt the need to create twitter accounts and respond directly to their customers. Personally, I can find last minute tickets to a baseball game easier on Twitter than on Craigslist.

Nobody in the circles I talk in has ever mentioned Quora. Ever. Google+ has come up about 50 times a day since last week, so I don't think it's quite that it's replaced Quora.

Quora: look at the homepage (without being signed in) and tell me it's not the web's proudest gated community.

"New Users. Sorry, you must have an invitation to create an account on Quora."

I'm not upset. Every time I visit the site through a backlink I feel alienated, and don't want to contribute to those feelings in others by signing up with an invitation if I had one. I'll just be content occasionally peering in at people who want to be seen.

Not even a search box on the homepage.

http://trends.google.com/websites?q=quora.com&geo=all... well, the hype is over - now they must show if they are great - or not. but a startup that does not have hard times is probably not trying hard enough

I find myself asking, who is this guy? Honestly who ever thought that Quora was a facebook killer - or anything more than another Yahoo answers with different userbase? Also, who makes a thesis, then gives examples to show that their thesis is wrong (the twitter example etc)? The whole thing seems incredible and contrived.

Quora is very useful with real entrepreneurs contributing (similar to HN). SO is nowhere near to Quora on quality of startup topics. The UI is also pleasing and friendly for FB users.

The only threat to Quora as of now is Prizes.org from Google.

I think the biggest problem Quora faces is that it's invite-only. A question-and-answer website needs as many users as possible to provide as many answers as possible.

the problem with that is that quality takes a nose-dive. they tried to address that by "enforcing" quality with various arbitrary rules, moderators, etc, and pretty much failed - it created an alienating, stifling, clique-like atmosphere (in a sense they violated the "social contract" - a social site is for being social, yet they were penalising certain, normal, social behaviours).

so i left; sounds like they still haven't found a solution (it doesn't help that it's predominantly populated from one social group - one not unlike hn, so i won't comment further on that ;o).

what i argued at the time was that they should encourage quality by giving more support to people to cultivate their answers - to get feedback, edit, and improve. http://www.quora.com/Andrew-Cooke/Why-did-you-delete-all-you...

Really? I don't remember getting an invite to Quora, in fact I think I just signed up on the site

My comments that I posted in the comments on the original blog post, slightly modified:


Quora most certainly does solve a problem: “Tacit knowledge extraction”

I have a question, whose answer may not exist anywhere in written form (e.g. no reference book, no wiki, no manual, no whitepaper, etc.). The answers do however lie in the heads of people, very very smart knowledgable people. Quora has created a system whereby a user with a question can pose it in a forum where those with the answer will see it and feel compelled to answer.

Quora is performing tacit knowledge extraction at the macro-level. However, there is no reason that this same problem can’t be solve at the institutional level as well, using only a slightly modified version of the solution the Quora team has built.


On the issue of badges and traditional game mechanics, I wholly disagree that Quora needs such features, and I would even argue that it would be a worse product if it did have them. For the most part, the game mechanics you are referring to are almost all behavioral game mechanics, whereby intrinsic motivation is replaced with extrinsic motivation in the form of totems and tokens (badges, mayorships, in-game money, etc.).

When you apply extrinsic motivators where intrinsic motivators already exist, you get three results: (1) An increase in short-to-medium term user engagement, but this comes as a cost of (2) Losing intrinsic motivators that a difficult to regain once lost, and (3) A possible loss of contribution quality, because users are now engineering their answers for upvotes and not focusing on answering the original question. Oftentimes these two will be aligned, but not always.

The correct type of game mechanics to apply (and that for the most part are already part of Quora in some ways already) are combinatorial game mechanics that don’t reward individual achievement, but collaboration and cooperation. These types of game mechanics are far more subtle than the behavioral game mechanics used by companies like Zynga.

StackOverflow is unique in that it is largely based on combinatorial game mechanics, with the use of some behavioral game mechanics to guide the user into exploring the webapp. Notice that I said exploring. As webapps get larger, you need to establish “exploration patterns” to the app to make sure the user gets the most out of the app. SO uses badges for this. Many other sites use single-use tooltips such as those that can be created with guiders.js. Here they are using extrinsic motivators for a behavior that will only be performed once (exploration by definition is only done once), thus there is no product risk from usurping/deadening the value of intrinsic motivators using extrinsic motivators.

There is however one exception on SO where they use behavioral game mechanics to solicit user behavior that should be performed in perpetuity, which is to hand out depth of knowledge badges for contributions to certain topic verticals. There is a serious possible long-term consequence of these badges for tasks in perpetuity, but it may be a long-time before we find out whether the risks outweighs the benefit.

For example, SO hands out bronze, silver and gold badges for topic X. This is replacing an intrinsic motivation (helping your fellow developer with the problem; reciprocal altruism) with an extrinsic motivator (bronze/silver/gold badges. A possible consequence of this approach is that some people (how many as a percentage, we don’t yet know) may only actively participate in the site until they achieve the badges they want in that vertical as part of their reputation. So the first risk here is the possibility of a drop in topic engagement after the user has achieved all totems for that topic.

And example of a better game mechanic, that is typically viewed as traditional game mechanic, but has been implemented in Quora as a combinatorial game mechanic is the notion of a topic leaderboard titled “Top Answerers”, which I believe is upvote weighted.. First, the upvote weighting makes sure that quality of answers is more important than quantity of answers for a topic in determining who is ranked most highly. Second, there are no notifications alerting top answerers that they’ve become top answerers. It’s not like the user wakes up one day, checks Quora and sees a feed item saying “Congratulations, you are now a top answerer for the Javascript topic.” Doing so would shift the focus from intrinsic motivation via reciprocal altruism to extrinsic motivation via the fostering of competition among top answerers.

Finally, Quora’s product management approach of only displaying just enough quantity/quality metrics to the end users prevents misplaced emphasis on competition and PeopleRank. The only places you really see competition metrics in the interface are upvotes on an answer and number of answers in the top answerers leaderboard.

I could even be argued that Quora may want to experiment with not listing these two numbers at all. For example, Hacker News recently did away with displaying the number of upvotes alongside topic comments. This removal of competition metric from the interface effectively turns a mixed behavioral/combinatorial game mechanic to a pure combinatorial game mechanic. I forget the exact thread where Paul Graham discussed the benefits of removing upvote count from comments, but the fact that his change has stuck is proof that a combinatorial approach that is subtle and may not look like game mechanics at all to the untrained eye is better than a behavioral approach that rewards undesirable behavior.


Ultimately, Quora is fun for people who would rank highly on high-need-for-cognition. That’s it’s target audience. It does not and would not want to modify the product to target people with a low need for cognition, since doing so would reduce contribution quality and drive away the users who have a high need for cognition and contribute heavily.

References: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need_for_cognition http://portal.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1951356


The only point in this article that I agree with is the “echo chamber” effect and feed utility problem. However, feed utility is not a problem unique to Quora. Twitter and Facebook both suffer from feed utility issues due to signal to noise ratios in the feeds. This is one of the biggest problems in social network design and each social network, by virtue of catering to a different audience with different needs will have to find their own solutions to improve signal-to-noise. I know, I’m working on a startup with a feed with a very focused task and all feed improvements revolve around serving the needs associated with that one task. (FYI We’re not in stealth, since if you know me personally, I’ll gladly share it with you, but I’m not about to post our product design on the web just yet.)

On this last problem it may be interesting to have two feeds. A feed of all the stuff I like and find interesting via follows of people and topics. This is the serendipitous, consumption focused feed. And a second feed that includes all the topics that the user contributes most often to. This second feed should help solid contributors get back to contributing instead of having their time sucked up with consumption of all sorts of useful and useless knowledge.

I never really 'got it'. Having to frame discussions in the form of a question seemed limiting, and a bit of a barrier.

It's useful as a Q&A, but I don't see it as a social network. Quora does seem better than Yahoo Answers though.

Few questions:

1. Does the author know that Quora traffic is decreasing dramatically (a fact which states a web service "in trouble") or just he assumes that "since I left, all others left with me"?

2. What does he means "Not solving a problem"?

If I want to know how many NICs I can stuff into a single server machine [1] or how to build a 10Gbs wire-tapping monster[2] or why programmers so fanatical about their text editors[3] where will I go and ask those questions? attackofdesign.com? shall I start gambling which of the 4 sites of stack exchange is the best site to get the answer and not getting it migrated 5 times before getting and answer?

BTW, the first two questions were real world problems I solved and quora helped me a lot.

I simply cannot stand this anymore, smart people are spending time and energy to build things we can use for free, and we, instead of thanking them, talking about their "troubles" and giving them advice.

The easiest thing for a _blogger_ to do is to write where did Bill Gates gone wrong, or why is Google failing going social time after time (hey, people, until two weeks ago, this was the mainstream state-of-mind).

I do not believe in critics, I do not read critics before I buy a boo, watch a film or go to a restaurant, and ever since I did so, I failed less, while by the time I was relying on critics I failed much more. The fact is simple, can you mister opinion do any better? Can you? If you can't, stay still, if you can, stay still and do instead of talk. But, no, those who cannot compose a jingle for the local radio station write music reviews, and people who cannot make a decent omelet blogs about restaurants and those who cannot do start-ups blogs about start-ups.

Michael Arrington build an empire by writing about startups, yet when he gave it a shot with that tablet and the Singaporean company , he failed at the spot one would not expect him to fail at (he's a lawyer, mind you).

I am not saying there is no room for blogging about start-ups, all I am saying is that I would rather be on the side of those who _make_ the news, rather than the side of those who _write_ the news, let alone those who _read_ news.

If ideas are dime a dozen, advice is dime a dozen kilograms.

[1] http://www.quora.com/How-many-ethernet-ports-can-I-build-int...

[2] http://www.quora.com/How-can-I-build-a-high-performance-serv...

[3] http://www.quora.com/Why-are-most-programmers-so-fanatical-a...

I'm not the author but there is plenty evidence that Quora's traffic has decreased significantly since January (almost certainly by their choice). The results since April depend on who you believe; Google Trends says it's flat, Comscore says that it's increasing month-on-month and is back to February's level.


Alexa rankings - for what they are worth - seem to show their traffic slowly bleeding away. The number of visitors and activity showed a big peak early in the year, and has been fading since quite steadily.

Possibly more disturbing for them is that the metrics that show 'engagement' (bounce, # of pageviews, time on site) have been declining even more markedly over this year, suggesting that people aren't spending very long on the site.

"Why [The Author Believes] Quora is in Trouble"

Isn't this true of basically any post (the author expressing his belief)?

Most VCs are sheep and follow trends. They see stuff being pimped out on TC hardcore and think they're going to miss out. I think QWIKI & QUORA are 2 big example of that. Hopefully they prove me wrong and are wildly successful, but not looking good...

Quora fell apart when Ashton Kutcher and other celebs started posting.

It is not necessary for one tool to lose in order for another tool to win.

Plenty of people outside Silicon Valley use Quora. If you aren't seeing them, that's a sign that you aren't paying sufficient attention, or that you don't follow many people outside Silicon Valley.

I think it is a relatively simple matter of Quora developers not understanding what their product could ultimately become.

Someone with influence and vision needs to step in and set s course.

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