Monday, May 30, 2011

Quora: Questions and Answers

Many of you go to sites such as Wikipedia when searching for a quick fact or two, even though Wikipedia is hardly recognized as a credible source. Yet, we still heavily rely on it. What if there was a place you could go to find out information that you were not embarrassed to cite? That is the site that Quora aims to be. Furthermore, not only does Quora aim to provide credible information but much more specific information.

Quora, a new start up created by former Facebook employees Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, is the up and coming question and answer site. Since the internet started we have seen a variety of Q&A sites along with forums and places for discussion. So you might ask what distinguishes Quora from these other sites? Quora aims to be recognized for its reliable answers while also providing a social networking environment. It also focuses on specificity. You can ask a question that focuses entirely on a specific part of a topic. Sites such as Wikipedia provide a large overview of a variety of broad topics; however, they provide very little in the way of narrow topics and personal narratives. Quora, on the other hand, provides users the opportunity to share personal experiences and accounts of what it is like to experience something first hand, that users might not otherwise find.

One problem that many similar sites have seen deals with scaling. Is Quora built well enough that it will scale with an increasing user base? Its structure and success so far looks promising. The way the site is set up is that users must create an account. Thus creating a link between people and answers, making it easier to track the quality of a user’s responses. Answers are voted on and ranked in order of what appears to be the “best” response. Moderators also determine the overall quality of answers if they are disputed. So far questions and answers have been successful and they expect it to scale well.

Users can follow other users, specific questions, or broader topics. Quora combines these to create a newsfeed of questions and answers on the user’s homepage that they might be interested in. This creates a unique experience for each user while also providing them with interaction ability similar to that of a social networking site. All in all, Quora seems to be a step in the right direction for sites providing credible information and a networking experience for users.

- Emilie Jackson

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