I'm one of them. Quora has now spent several years training me to be bummed out every time I click on a link to their site. Every time it happens, I dislike them more, and become more resistant to creating an account. I now think of it as a site for other people, who are willing to put up with the stuff they do. I'm pleased to find there are others like me.
I like Adam, but I wish he'd stop doing this.
I became so enraged over this that I decided to install the "Personal Blocklist (by Google)" Chrome plugin and then added quora.com to the blocklist just so that I wouldn't see them in results when I searched for things on Google.
Like you, they've trained me to never want to contribute to their site, and to never, ever want to consume the content they provide.
Giving a service attention and eyeballs in this day and age is like giving them money. It's actually worse, because you're the product and so they don't treat you like you're the customer. Even if they don't get money from you, even if you're using AdBlock, even if you are totally immune to advertising or any other means of indirect monetization, they might get something from your friends, which is why Quora is insisting on logging in with your Facebook account and showing your activity to your friends. And even if you don't log in with your Facebook account by bypassing their wall, you might send links to your friends at some point. So the mere act of giving them eyeballs is helping them grow and is encouraging them (and others) to use the same tactics.
What I do is that I simply don't use Quora or any service or website that doesn't treat me well. Quora does have some interesting content in there, but it isn't valuable enough for me to do any sacrifice. Even if it's a free service, I'm not putting up with free services that don't respect me. If companies need to monetize and provide value worth paying, all they need to do is ask for it, as I've got money to spend on valuable things.
Otherwise I would rather focus my attention on things and products that actually deserve it.
Doesn't work so well on mobiles though.
The "privacy" of a service can affect people's answer if it is that, private. But Quora is not a super exclusive club: anyone who's willing to spend some time signing up, and who's willing to risk having his posts revealed to his facebook friends because of a new "feature" can get into this club...
So I ask again, what peace of mind does it bring you to know that your answers are behind Quora's walls?
The die has already been cast in Quora's case, from what it looks like from the outside (I'm speculating wildly here), it looks like the company realized a while ago (around the time of the Charlie Cheever ousting saga) that they're growing at a pace much slower than what is expected out of them.
A $11 million series A to $50 million series B usually fits the profile of a company in hyper growth stage.
Is Quora a company that fits such a profile? All pointers (admittedly imperfect) say 'no'. Even going by their latest feature, blogs, it would appear that they're also running out of tricks. Such a feature is often a clear indicator of the flattening of user growth, leading companies to chase down usage growth aggressively to make up for the decline in the former.
But a $50 million series B should fly in the face of such an assumption. Well, maybe not. Money can either help you unlock known avenues for growth or it can help you explore unknown avenues. Either option buys time, but with different ends in sight. DAngelo putting up some of his own money certainly points at the latter. It looks like an attempt to buy time to explore.
While it is hard to wager what their burn rate should be, it is probably not enough to burn $11 million in two years. Even with the really nutty assumption that they have actually burnt $11 million in 2-years, with the current round they should be good for another 2-3 years. That's enough time to focus purely on how to massively grow the product without having to worry about how will you pay the bills in the coming week.
With that perspective in mind, it is easy to see why they're less interested in being a warm-and-cosy small community with great answers that pushes all the right buttons with the power users.
Their road ahead is a choice that's already been made. Where they will get to on that road, I don't think anyone knows yet.
One thing is certain, though. They'll either win really big, or will flame out pretty badly. They've already boxed themselves into a place where there is little space in-between.
The other option would have been to choose not to take VC money -- or to have chosen a "business model" not heavily dependent on high-quality uncompensated contributions from users.
There's nothing wrong with being a small successful company, there are tens and thousands of that out there. But building a big successful company at scale is rarely done without taking on external investment.
Uncompensated users are a different issue altogether. I'm sure people have various reasons to keep contributing content there even after knowing that fact.
>building a big successful company at scale is rarely done without taking on external investment.
Wikipedia is a counterexample. According to Alexa, Wikipedia is the sixth most visited web site in the world. But more to the point, no VC-funded or stock-market-funded company I know of is foolish enough to try to compete with Wikipedia. I think that fifteen years from now, we will see a similar situation among Q-and-A sites -- at least those where the answers are contributed by unpaid users. In other words, I predict that Quora -- as well as Stack Exchange, which has also taken VC funding -- will be eclipsed within 15 years by sites not funded by VC or other profit-motivated investment.
Any competition for Google Search is likely to come from companies like Apple or Microsoft that already have plenty of money to pay engineers or from investor-funded for-profit companies. That is because the "non-profit sector" is unlikely to be able to summon up enough skilled labor or funding to compete with Google Search.
In contrast, setting up a competitor to Quora or Stack Exchange is relatively easy (especially since these new entrants can learn from Experts Exchange, Stack Exchange and Quora), and going the non-profit route (or the for-profit "lifestyle business" route without external funding) does not alienate a large fraction of potential unpaid contributors.
Atwood had an idea that SE would be "like Wikipedia" for QA, and Stack Overflow has certainly had success in that regard. I think that contributors to the site get very much the same value proposition as that of Wikipedia, if not slightly more in the user profile/karma regard.
Of course, none of this negates your point about the influence of funding!
254 users and growing, quick hack is to add ?ref=fb
"Bummed". Yeah that really describes it perfectly. Especially with how immaculately their digest emails are constructed, to be hit with that asinine wall is a straight-up bummer, and stops me dead in my tracks.
But still, I click an email link and am automatically logged in, but they still insist on me downloading the fucking app! Thankfully in chrome on android I just click "request desktop site" and all that nonsense goes away.
When I click on a Quora link inside FB app or whatever, it takes me to iTunes to re-download the Quora app. Or, I click in Twitter, and it doesn't have my credentials, so same problem as you.
It also keeps me from posting links to Quora content anywhere else.
On Quora most of the questions are reasonably good, most of the names are real, and some of the answers are brilliant.
Well you don't have to be a genius to realize this.
So as long as there is a unlimited supply of free email accounts, asking for a compulsory log in to do things like reading answers is going to lead to only one thing: Users creating fake id's to read them. Good luck if they remember the login of that fake id next times they come in. Else what you will see is the same user creating as many id's he wants at his disposal.
If you by these numbers you are going to get the most misleading figures of number of users your site has.
I hope Quora realizes what they are doing.
I believe they're simply optimizing the wrong variables. It has certainly driven me away. I use the google personal block list, and Quora was among the first sites to go on it.
1. Third party statistics sites like Alexa and Compete are horribly untrustworthy indicators of reality.
2. Growing traffic isn't the best way to foster a community. I believe pg has written about this a few times, with regards to communities in general and HN.
I think the Quora community is amazing. It's very populous and the quality of answers is generally on par or better than specialty interest sites/forums from a wide range of topics, all in one place. Of course, it has its strengths and its weaknesses - for example, a strength would definitely be reading an answer from an actual CIA [something] analyst, former Foreign Service Officer, doctor, etc. on a relevant question, but it falls behind in areas like technology IMO.
The site is annoying and I hate a lot about the community (surprise, it turns out "mature adults" can use shitty memes just as much as the teens everyone blames for them on reddit), but I think they've done a great job at fostering the kind of community they want so far. If anything, it's being threatened by the pressure of growing.
They're always wrong. But, from what I can tell, they're usually wrong in ways that are still usefully predictive. If you compare two sites at Alexa.com, and there is a vast difference in popularity (as is the case between Quora and StackOverflow), you can probably assume StackOverflow is bigger and growing faster...even if you can't be sure how big the difference is. I wouldn't want to make business decisions on it, but it's good enough for me to feel comfortable making snarky comments about Quora.
"2. Growing traffic isn't the best way to foster a community. I believe pg has written about this a few times, with regards to communities in general and HN."
But, it is the way to justify $61 million of investment. HN doesn't have to ring the cash register. Quora does, at some point.
Anyway, I find Quora annoying. The community may be awesome, but I don't believe the curators of that community are deserving of my attention or my contribution to their walled garden.
That said, as tools for relative comparisons they're quite useful, as long as you put a sufficiently large gray area around the results (50% or so). That way you can compare sites in magnitude without getting bogged down over whether a site at rank 1200 is larger than a site at rank 1201, the difference is small enough to be meaningless.
The final way in which you can use them is to use their time series to determine a trend. And that's where both are very useful, because assuming their sampling method is the same over time and assuming that there is some significant relationship between all the traffic you're interested in and the portion sampled the trend will be quite strongly reflective of what is actually happening. So growth, stagnation and decline can be determined with some accuracy (you still have to do some smoothing out but on 'max' with Alexa and a site that's a couple of years old the trend will be clearly visible).
Alexa and Compete are bad sources.
Other third party sources like Quantcast, comScore, Nielsen, etc, do a better job of measurement, especially if they've been beaconed. You will never get complete agreement because of variations in implementation. A site's own "internal" analytics, like Google Analytics or Omniture, will never quite agree either.
Third party data is still ordinally and directionally correct most of the time. Google Trends and Quantcast both show a general trend upward, but it's not hypergrowth. What isn't mesaured here is engagement, and that's a much more interesting metric for Quora.
Is there some browser or extension that's accidentally filtering this when you copy/paste a link?
I have no idea how much new traffic to Quora comes from organic search, but I have to imagine its not unsubstantial.
Yup, it was them: http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/08/09/creepy-quora-erod...
This more than cluelessness, it's the same sort of low-grade sociopathy that underlies Facebook's shifting non-privacy policies.
Quora has let us eat at their house for years and now all they're asking is we take off our shoes before entering. Let's not forget, we're in their house!
As an entrepreneur, how will we ever convince users to actually pay for products when the mob and pitch forks come out when they ask us to sign up?
We are so entitled it's sad. Really hope Quora doesn't bow down here. They aren't asking for your first-born. If you wanna be a member of their community, then be a member. Nothing unfair about that.
And how exactly is creating an account taking off one's shoes before entering? I would not be contributing anything to the Quora community by creating an account. I'm not depriving the community of anything by not creating one.
I believe the reason Quora tries to force people to create accounts is not because this helps the community, but simply because this is the first step of the funnel of their viral spread mechanism.
When we are guests in someone else's home, seems only fair that we honor their requests. Asking you to simply create an account shouldn't be such a massive chore.
I believe this attitude is dangerous for our community. I fear for what happens when we ask you to pay.
This is a ridiculous analogy. It's not a home, it's a business. If my friends want me to take my shoes off when I visit them, no big deal. If Best Buy does, that's frigging insane.
[And no, I'm not saying that that's a true analogy either — I'm just exploring what makes this one right or wrong, and where you think the insanity lies]
Asking to download an app to do the exact same thing as without the app is upsetting because it seems completely pointless.
Or we can choose not to enter at all. They aren't asking us to just create an account, but to download an android/iphone App.
The irony is I have an account... linked to my Facebook profile. But I can't log in with that from work. There may or may not be a way around this (perhaps a new account or linking my account to an email login), but I'm so irritated by their antagonistic approach that when I see the wall appear I just close the browser tab.
It's now gotten to a point where I don't even bother using Quora from home because I so strongly disagree with their policy.
If everybody on the web were using this tactic it would be a valueless platform. The only rational reaction, then, to those that use it, is rejection.
Anyway, you're forgetting something important: We're completely entitled to not use a sucky service and blog about it. That's what going on here: there's people who decide to vote with their feet, and tell others about it.
Really, you do not seem to be aware of the fact that or people leave in either Nothern or Southern amercian continent, and many of them do not speak English.
Each time any US citizen calls US citizens "Americans" it hurts the heart of hundreds of millions of people.
Quora is a business as much as it is a consumer facing service with a strong mission to uphold. But the reality is, if Quora didn't keep its numbers out of the red and into the black by doing "annoying things" like forcing app downloads or account creation, then they would run out of capital and cease to exist. So, take your pick. Or better yet, just stop complaining.
Also, their mobile website isn't fully functional or in some cases usable. I beta test it, and it's riddled with bugs and missing features. Frankly, a lot of services today are skipping mobile web all together, and focusing on driving app downloads to provide a richer experience.
Bottom line: Services valuable to end users are also running a businesses. We must learn to give and take.
And, I have to admin: I'm the same demographic and really hate what Quora is doing but nobody outside Silly Valley really cares.
"As an entrepreneur, how will we ever convince users to actually pay for products when the mob and pitch forks come out when they ask us to sign up?"
Ah, but the mob don't attack with pitchforks when you charge for a service. What they object to is bait & switch. Only a handful of random weirdos from the bowels of the internet have complained about me charging for my software.
Because I only have one audience -- my customers -- my job is making them happy. If I don't make them happy, they take their money elsewhere. This doesn't mean I have to do everything they ask, and for sure I don't. But the nature of our relationship is clear: Customers are the butter to my bread.
My job is simple. I do not have competing interests. Thoughts that will never arise: "Gee, I need this data for advertising, but users don't want to give it to me." "Gee, we use all this bandwidth for our free service… we need to put ads on it… but they won't like that if we tell them… I know, let's phrase it really confusingly and maybe they won't notice!" or my fave "Gee, we need to make money… I know, let's claim the rights of everything people post on our service, and stop third-party developers from distracting people from our proprietary interface."
That temptation is what leads these apps to ruin. That temptation is nearly impossible to resist… they do want & need to make money, after all.
Better to avoid temptation altogether by creating a business where charging is natural, expected, and welcomed by the would-be customers.