While “Answers” websites aren’t particularly new or unique, Quora is one website that has successfully taken the Q&A format to new heights thanks to its creative execution.
Don’t lump it in with other crowdsourced answer websites like Yahoo! Answers or WikiAnswers. Quora is loaded with several features that make it more than a one-stop destination for search engine queries. It’s a living ecosystem worth participating in.
For those of you who aren’t already using Quora, why not? Maybe it’s time to give it a try. You may be surprised by how useful it can be and how well you fit in.
Real Answers From Real Experts
The most distinguishing feature of Quora is that there are real experts answering the questions you ask. What good is an answer if there’s no credibility backing it? That’s why most Answers websites build bad reputations. If there is no reliability, how do you discern the good answers from the bad?
Earlier this year, Quora launched a brand new feature that marked certain users with a blue checkmark to indicate verified expertise in whatever field(s) they participate in. This kind of verification system has already proven useful on Twitter (to cut down on celebrity imposters) and Reddit (to verify the integrity of high-profile AMA participants).
Another important aspect of Quora, which stems from the community’s atmosphere rather than being a built-in feature, is the fact that answers tend to be longer and more in-depth than other Answers websites. Length doesn’t necessarily equal quality or value, but it does show that Quora contributors put more effort into their responses.
And then there’s the Ask To Answer feature of Quora that allows users to request an answer from other Quora users of their choice. You can use this feature on any question, even if you weren’t the one who asked the question. And when combined with Quora’s Online Now feature, you can essentially receive an immediate answer.
In order to use the Ask To Answer feature, you’ll need Quora Credits. Every user starts with 500 and can earn more by contributing in useful ways (e.g. asking good questions or giving good answers). This gamified system promotes activity, encourages higher quality content, and helps direct attention towards noteworthy questions.
Follow Relevant Interests
The Quora community is big. Topics are used to categorize the multitude of questions asked every day on the site. These topics range from Books to Music to Food to History to Finance to so much more. And the best part is that you can follow the topics that interest you.
Every user has a Quora home page that acts as an activity feed. New questions show up in the feed, much like new tweets would show up in a Twitter feed, which gives you the opportunity to answer the questions you know about OR follow up on questions that might catch your eye.
If it wasn’t obvious already, the questions that show up in your feed are limited to the topics that you follow, so it’s a great way to ignore all Quora activity from areas irrelevant to your interests.
Not too long ago, Quora also introduced a Reading List feature that lets you collect questions, answers, and posts. It’s useful for two main purposes: saving remarkable content so you can return to it in the future and building up a list of interesting content that you can read later in case you can’t at the moment.
Establish Authority, Build Your Brand
What incentive is there for an expert to participate in Quora?
At the moment, there’s no system of monetary compensation for top contributors. Doesn’t that seem like a one-sided relationship? Is it fair for experts to share their expertise so freely? What drives them to be productive members of Quora?
User profiles on Quora provide several fields that can be used to establish one’s authority on a given subject. What topics do you know about? Where have you worked? Where have you studied? They lend credibility to your answers so that they carry more weight and attention.
This kind of authority can be helpful when trying to build a brand, especially since Quora users are displayed using their real names. For example, being a regular contributor of high-quality answers for the Venture Capital topic could increase visibility for your consulting startup.
Another way to build authority and visibility, is to write posts using Quora Blogs. These blog posts, which aren’t restricted by the Q&A format, show up in relevant topics and can be seen by tens of thousands of viewers every month. Most blog platforms only share your writings with those who follow you, but Quora puts your content out in front of people who are interested in it even if they aren’t following you.
In the future, when Quora implements a revenue strategy, reputation of expertise could lead to a system that matches prospective employers with potential employees. In that sense, there’s real potential for Quora to become an online platform for employment networking (at least for the topics covered therein).
Take Quora With You Everywhere
Estimates of how many Quora users interact using a mobile device range anywhere from 20 to 65 percent — an official quote puts it at 40% — but there’s one truth we can conclude from that regardless of the exact number: a significant portion of the userbase regularly takes Quora on the go.
And as it turns out, it’s a great way to use Quora.
When we reviewed Quora on Android, we came away with good thoughts about it. The app is clean and modern without putting much burden on device resources, meaning that it runs smooth and fast. It’s a joy to use and it’s no wonder why so many Quorans prefer to use a mobile device when submitting answers.
So, Is Quora For You?
Some people think that Quora peaked long ago while others still believe that its best days have yet to come. Either way, the fact remains that Quora still has value to offer today. If you frequent Q&A sites and yearn for higher quality, consider switching to Quora. It’s where all the cool people are hanging out.
What do you think about Quora? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below!