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.
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. ;-)
"The site is visually bland: there’s barely any color or images, and you won’t find any effect fancier than rounded corners."
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… ;)
Disclosure: As a Stack Overflow moderator, I'm quite biased.
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.
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.
Can you explain how a site like Quora would be worth at least $100,000,000 to Google, Facebook, or anyone else?
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.
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.
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).
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...
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.
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.
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.
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 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'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).
+1 regarding the Google searches as well.
This is not cogent writing :P
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.
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.
You couldn't have answered the question without that bit?
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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).
Like a game with awesome graphics and sucky gameplay, people play them for a day and then get rid of it.
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.
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
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.
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.
"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.
The only threat to Quora as of now is Prizes.org from Google.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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  or how to build a 10Gbs wire-tapping monster or why programmers so fanatical about their text editors 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.
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.
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.
Someone with influence and vision needs to step in and set s course.