Gini Dietrich

Quora Is Not for Normal People

By: Gini Dietrich | March 9, 2011 | 
99

Although she meant it for Facebook question of the week, Abbie Fink asked us about Quora and I thought I’d answer it today AND do a video question of the week, from another Facebook friend, tomorrow.

She asked, “Quora: Do or do not. Why or why not? Figured I’d rather ask you than ask Quora.”

My response?

Do not.

At first I was really pleased with Quora. Want to know which parts of The Social Network are true? Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook co-founder) is there to tell you.

Want to know how to successfully pitch Mashable? Ben Parr is there to tell you.

Want to know how to successfully pitch TechCrunchRobert Scoble, Ben Parr, and many others provide answers.

Want to know if Amazon is working on an Android eReader? One of the guys who is working on the programming gives you the answer (yes).

Pretty cool, right?

Well, it turns out it’s just a place for the insiders. If you’re one of those named above, your question (and answer) gets published and ranked higher than, say, me. And there has been a lot of chatter about the editors changing your question, if they don’t like the way it’s stated, sometimes taking it completely out of context.

Your question or answer can be voted down. And you can even be kicked off the site. All because one of the editors doesn’t like the way you’ve stated something.

So it’s not really an open web forum that allows you to get true and honest feedback. It’s a Q&A site (albeit a pretty cool one, even though Yahoo! Answers has 100 million users and they, well, do not) that is run by people who can change your question, mark down your answer, or remove you altogether.

The cool part is that there is very little spam (has anyone noticed a significant increase in spam on LinkedIn lately?!) and you have to use your real name, but brands aren’t allowed there yet.

Sure, your employees can get on there and represent you, but until they allow companies, it’s not going to be a very useful tool and one we won’t recommend to clients.

My recommendation: Check it out. Search on there for answers, if you have a question that is too large for Twitter (see what New York Times columnist David Pogue has to say about that). But don’t spend a lot of time or effort on it.

What’s been your experience with Quora? How would you answer Abbie’s question?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

Spin Sucks in Your Inbox

Leave a Reply

99 Comments on "Quora Is Not for Normal People"

avatar

Sort by:   newest | oldest
jgwhitt
jgwhitt
5 years 4 months ago

Great post. I think you’re right, more of an insiders’ club. In many ways, that is cool in and of itself because it becomes a more credible source for info.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@jgwhitt I agree with that – it is pretty darn cool to see those people on the site and, gasp, talk to the normal people! But it’s also pretty frustrating to ask a question only to have it changed and lost its meaning.

faybiz
5 years 4 months ago

G- perfectly succinct way of explaining it. I quote myself a while from January on Quora:

“if you need someone to tell if it is worthwhile, then it probably isn’t”

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@faybiz Which makes me think, ‘If you need to say you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re probably not.”

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@faybiz Want to show donpower how tagging works. Thanks for being my guinea pig.

jgwhitt
jgwhitt
5 years 4 months ago
@ginidietrich You’re right, that is frustrating if they take it out of context and then you end up asking yourself why you asked the question in the first place. It is especially a problem if they rework a question simply to enhance their own position.On the flip side, we could also see it as part of the social experience. If you think about having a conversation with someone, often questions are reformulated to steer a discussion in a certain direction. You see that happening with Twitter, when RTs are reworked to the 140 characters or when someone reworks the headline… Read more »
BobReed
BobReed
5 years 4 months ago

Great post, Gini. The “editing” part of Quora questions leaves me to believe that honesty and transparency aren’t part of the equation here. The interaction between people can deliver clarity, which can be far more useful,

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@BobReed Yep. That’s why I much prefer Twitter. But to Pogue’s point, sometimes you have a question that is just too big for Twitter.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@jgwhitt You know, that’s a great point. Things every day are reworked for our own benefit. But I think the issue with Quora is your first point – they rework some questions to enhance their own position. There is no transparency or authenticity in that. I’m OK with people answering my question in a way that benefits them, but don’t change the way I asked the question. It’s not representative of me and I don’t like that.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@BobReed P.S. Fun to see you around here the past few days!

FranchiseKing
5 years 4 months ago

Gini,

The folks at Quora are also nice enough to reward the folks that take the time to answer a question posed, thoroughly… with a nofollow link back.

JL

BobReed
BobReed
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich Trying to take the time to get out of my client “hair on fire” bubble.

LiamDennehey
LiamDennehey
5 years 4 months ago

Quora seems to be more noise. There are enough tools to get answers to questions, but I’ll check it out for a week or two and see if it is actually useful.

Does anyone know anything about Loffles.com or who’s behind it? Looks like a new start-up, but the pre-launch effort is pretty impressive with the graph. Let me know!

ShellyKramer
ShellyKramer
5 years 4 months ago

Censorship – anywhere, well, in my book, that’s just wrong.

jgwhitt
jgwhitt
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich Good point – no one wants to be misrepresented. I think there is something to be said about maintaining an editorial quality or better yet, integrity, even on social platforms.

andrewatideal
andrewatideal
5 years 4 months ago
I think you’re mis-understanding the power of Quora somewhat – though I too am still getting used to the water over there and have pretty much just been lurking for a while. The key thing with Quora, I believe, is that it ‘s a platform whereby experts can teach things to those who are interested in the knowledge they have. And since businesses can out spend or out teach (http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/09/you_can_outspen.html) their competition, Quora is actually a free advertising platform where you can share your knowledge. I think you’re erring if you ignore the opportunity Quora is giving you, especially someone… Read more »
andrewatideal
andrewatideal
5 years 4 months ago
I think you’re mis-understanding the power of Quora somewhat – though I too am still getting used to the water over there and have pretty much just been lurking for a while. The key thing with Quora, I believe, is that it ‘s a platform whereby experts can teach things to those who are interested in the knowledge they have. And since businesses can out spend or out teach (http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/09/you_can_outspen.html) their competition, Quora is actually a free advertising platform where you can share your knowledge. I think you’re erring if you ignore the opportunity Quora is giving you, especially someone… Read more »
timjahn
timjahn
5 years 4 months ago

I’ve found it can be a good way to use your existing content as a resource for people who might not have otherwise seen it.

I think it’s definitely a tool worth putting in the toolbox, but not the end all be all.

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 4 months ago

@andrewatideal “I think you’re erring if you ignore the opportunity Quora is giving you, especially someone with your domain knowledge. You have a lot you could teach people over there.”

Bingo. When harnessed positively, I think Quora can be a useful tool for spreading awareness of knowledge.

marksherrick
marksherrick
5 years 4 months ago

I took a couple looks around the place, and I just don’t like it…its like digg crossed with the wikipedia discussion pages, but done in a way to make it more annoying. But to have it not be completely open, that’s rediculous, and its what will make or break that site when either the right or the wrong people find out.

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 4 months ago

@ShellyKramer Any web site/service you’re using now can censor you at any time.

KenMueller
KenMueller
5 years 4 months ago

I think you hit it. Social needs to be more open and less contrived and controlled. I see things like Quora as being very niche: only useful to some, and it gives rise to a hierarchy, whereas one of the beauties of Social media is that it levels the playing field.

JenFongSpeaks
JenFongSpeaks
5 years 4 months ago

I completely agree with you. I have been on and attempted to participate. But I’ve found the “editorial” group intensely frustrating. What if you don’t agree with what the editors think? Even if you have vastly more experience in the field? Doesn’t matter. And that, I think, mitigates the usefulness of the place. Sure, there is cool and useful info. But it doesn’t allow for the whole picture. Plus I don’t think the interface makes it easy to find what you need quickly. And who has all day to spend on Quora? I’ve moved on for now.

JenFongSpeaks
JenFongSpeaks
5 years 4 months ago

@timjahn @ShellyKramer But they don’t to the level that Quora is. Almost every point I’ve made there has been edited by someone, whether they have the expertise or not. That, I think, is the issue.

sacevero
sacevero
5 years 4 months ago
I think Quora is useful in some ways, and in other ways causes some frustration. I’ve used it both to crowdsource answers for blog posts, such as my post on “Pitching through social media, yea or nay?” (which received answers from techcrunch and PR pros like Richard Laermer) and also to respond to inquiries about press releases (I work for Vocus/PRWeb). To me, it has been useful in that aspect. However, the “voting down” of answers is a downfall of the site as competitors can vote down an answer anonymously and the editing of questions and answers makes me uneasy… Read more »
faybiz
5 years 4 months ago

@ginidietrich @faybiz donpower I prefer hamsters…

faybiz
5 years 4 months ago

All the Quora rocks folks selling the opportunity to share your knowledge somewhere other than your own space is funny. Like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and others were not enough?

Rachel
Rachel
5 years 4 months ago

I’m with you. I poked around it and found it hard to use and time consuming. Some of the answers are cool, but it does seem like a popularity contesthat I don’t have the time, energy, or right jeans for : 0

Rachel
Rachel
5 years 4 months ago

I’m with you. I poked around it and found it hard to use and time consuming. Some of the answers are cool, but it does seem like a popularity contesthat I don’t have the time, energy, or right jeans for : 0

Rachel
Rachel
5 years 4 months ago

I’m with you. I poked around it and found it hard to use and time consuming. Some of the answers are cool, but it does seem like a popularity contest that I don’t have the time, energy, or right jeans for : 0

ladylaff
ladylaff
5 years 4 months ago
I really like Quora and have received some really generous, detailed answers to very specific questions, the quality of which I just don’t get on LinkedIn and other sites. I actually like the downvoting because I think it makes the system more balanced and real. It helps me understand how my answers are genuinely perceived so I don’t get too full of myself. I have had one answer downvoted and frankly, having read it back over and the question it related to, I could see why. And I really appreciate the absence of spam and blatant self-promotion. Finally, if you… Read more »
timjahn
timjahn
5 years 4 months ago

@faybiz The Q+A format of Quora feels more intuitive for answering questions than the fragmented nature of Twitter or Facebook. I’ve yet to do much with LinkedIn, I know they’re supposed to have a great Q+A product too.

timjahn
timjahn
5 years 4 months ago

@JenFongSpeaks @ShellyKramer Agreed about that. The ability for anybody to edit anything is bound to fail eventually.

marksherrick
marksherrick
5 years 4 months ago

@timjahn @andrewatideal to be fair, the same was said about Google Buzz/Wave, etc. Besides, if you really think about it, Squidoo already has this type of collaborative market taken care of.

Having to go out of your way to teach something you already do elsewhere isn’t really a benefit, either.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@Rachel You have the right jeans to hang out here, though!!

faybiz
5 years 4 months ago

@timjahn I don’t disagree with the case that it is a nice format, but I don’t grasp how its better than linkedin’s or facebook’s http://www.facebook.com/questions/ – how is that fragmented?

I do have issue with Quora turning into a “memememe” promotional thing contrary to what others have said. I’ve been on the site almost since it started and it went downhill fast once they linked everyone and auto sent all those “follows”

SocialMoves
5 years 4 months ago

Hey Gina, great topic! Quora is a great research tool to bend the left/right brain curve. I’m continually AMAZED at the amount of time some folks put into their answers (aka: find the time). I’ve had people edit my answers, but one guy actually took the time to send me a personal message to explain the rationale behind each of his edits of my stuff. That’s learning community. Certainly you have the insider clicks gaming the votes for their incestious MO’s. Seen that video before. But otherwise good research tool. Keep up call out The Spin!

SocialMoves
5 years 4 months ago
Hey Gini, great topic! Quora is a great research tool to bend the left/right brain curve. I’m continually AMAZED at the amount of time some folks put into their answers (aka: find the time). I’ve had people edit my answers, but one guy actually took the time to send me a personal message to explain the rationale behind each of his edits of my stuff. That’s learning community. Certainly you have the insider clicks gaming the votes for their incestious MO’s. Seen that video before. But otherwise good research tool. Keep up the good deed of calling out The Spin!
Shonali
5 years 4 months ago
I haven’t used Quora a lot, and am still trying to get my arms around it. I certainly don’t think it’s a “Twitter killer” or anything like that, and I can certainly see its value in getting answers directly from CEOs and true experts. One of the things I’m trying is, rather than follow people back automatically on Quora, just because we’re connected on Twitter, for example, is to follow questions instead. I get more value that way, and I really don’t see the point of following someone just because they’re there (and that goes for my “follow attitude” across… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@Shonali But you are following me. RIGHT?! 🙂 I don’t think it’s a Twitter killer and I don’t think it’s going to replace blogging. But I don’t think it’s all cracked up to an $86MM valuation, either.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@SocialMoves Talk more about this left/right brain curve. And I’d like to know more about your answers being changed. For facts? Or opinion?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@ladylaff That’s because you’re an overly positive person! Be cynical with me! 🙂 Actually, a really, really great point about the personal side of Quora. I can totally see that. I just don’t think it’s something businesses should run to try to understand.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@faybiz @timjahn I think Yahoo! Answers and some of the other Q&A sites do a better job of the actual Q&A piece of things. But Quora definitely has the social aspect down.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@sacevero That’s pretty much the same experience I’ve had – I LOVE that you get information from the insiders, but hate the non-transparency of it all.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@JenFongSpeaks I moved on too…for exactly the same reasons you illustrate.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@KenMueller Aha! Yes…it gives rise to hierarchy. That’s exactly what bothers me about it, but you said it much more eloquently.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@marksherrick Maybe you should use it to find tricks for beating me at WWF?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@timjahn So how do you promote your existing content there?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

@andrewatideal Oh I agree with the idea that experts can teach things to those interested in the knowledge. But I once posted a question that the editors didn’t like. They changed it and it changed the meaning of the question. So I ended up looking like a tool who didn’t know what I was saying/doing. THAT bothers me. The idea that your question (or answer) can be edited without your approval.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
5 years 4 months ago

Amen, sister!

wpDiscuz
[postmatic_subscribe_widget]