A lot of really important people in the tech world have been using Quora to share ideas and information. The site aggregates questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it, and they are continually improved upon by experts in the community.
In this article, I’ll explain more about what Quora is and how you can get started using the service.
What Is Quora?
As I stated above, Quora aggregates questions and answers to many topics and allows users to collaborate on them. The goal of the service is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone looking for the answer to that particular question.
One way you can think of it is as a cache for the research that people do looking things up on the web and asking other people.
Eventually, when you see a link to a question page on Quora, your feeling should be: “Oh, great! That’s going to have all the information I want about that.” It’s also a place where new stuff – that no one has written about yet – can get pulled onto the web.
Starting Out With Quora
To begin using Quora, head over their homepage and connect with your Facebook or Twitter account. If you don’t have an account at either of those sites you can sign up with your email credentials.
Once you’re in you can follow your friends and connections who are already on Quora, as well as invite others to join.
You have a basic profile/about page where you can list your headline (e.g. web designer, programmer, etc.), add a photo, detailed description, and links to your websites and profiles so users of the site may ask you questions directly.
If you’re an expert in something, this is a good place to show it.
You can also begin following topics that interest you. There are topics for just about everything you – or better yet I – can think of. You can search or choose from a list of topics and once you’ve got started you will be suggested topics related to your interests.
Another interesting feature is the ability to post messages right on your profile page. “Share your knowledge” it says. This is where you can begin sharing your thoughts and expertise on any number of subjects. Your followers will be able to read everything you post here.
Posting Questions & Answers
Onto the Q&A! With Quora, each question page is a reusable resource, and answers on question pages don’t depend on any context about the asker except for what is specified in the question text and details. There is only one version of each distinct question on the site, so everyone who is interested in or knows about that material is focused on that one place.
Almost any public space on Quora can be edited by anyone who knows how to improve it. This includes the text of questions and the details around them, what topics are attached to which questions, and the summaries of answers. It’s kind of like Wikipedia in that Quora relies on the good faith of everyone using it to make it a high quality resource.
You can write your own answers to questions any time you think a question page could become a better resource with more information added to it. Answers are rated so that the best ones can rise to the top of the page and make it better. And you can comment on others’ answers as well.
Each question has a set of topics (like the ones we discussed earlier) attached to it which makes it easier to find questions already on the site. Topics are also used to identify related questions and sometimes give context to a question.
The topics you’re following allow the system to show you questions you might be interested in. You can also follow individual questions to be notified of new answers.
One interesting thing to note is that everything you do on Quora is tied back to you. Each question and answer has a revision history associated with it, and each change in the log is associated with the person who made it. And because people use their real names and pictures on Quora and have a short bio describing who they are, this helps give readers the proper perspective.
I think Quora is a really interesting platform and, like I said, there are a lot of high profile people in the tech world actively participating there. If you have a question about Facebook, for instance, who are you more likely to believe: Mark Zuckerberg (yes, he’s on the site) or someone with unproven expertise? That’s where the value lies with this community.
If you’re looking for answers to tech-specific questions, however, you should also check out our community, MakeUseOf Answers!
What do you think of Quora? Will you be looking for answers to your toughest questions there?