What Quora Can Learn from Wikipedia: Real-Time Editing

January 28, 2011 § 22 Comments

By: Christopher Lin

The hot topic for Quora these days (and ever) is the challenge of maintaining high content quality in the face of the great unwashed masses who don’t understand the site’s norms for rigor and eloquence.  Solutions abound: Forced tutorials! Sub-Quoras! Make everybody a reviewer! Pay for full-time reviewers! PeopleRank!

Implicit in these solutions is the assumption that the old model of human administration and crowdsourced wisdom in the form of up- and downvotes are insufficient to address problems of the scale that Quora faces.  Although this is true in the sense that throwing more warm bodies at the problem isn’t going to do much, I think it is incorrect to assume that a crowdsourced system of moderation is fundamentally unscalable.  We know from projects like Wikipedia and large online forums that relying on a system of moderation driven by a small team of users with special powers and privileges can actually be very effective for encouraging desired behaviour and filtering out disruptive users.  Rather than abandoning the attempt at human moderation wholesale1, I think it is more instructive to figure out why such a system has worked well for other projects but does not seem to be scaling well for Quora. « Read the rest of this entry »

Exclusive Quora Party Expecting Kissing Booth and Anybot?

January 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

On Friday, Quora took home the much coveted “Best Startup of 2010” Crunchies Award. Following on the heels of this great recognition, Quora will be throwing an über exclusive party at the Old Pro down in Palo Alto. What? You haven’t heard about it? Well obviously, you didn’t meet the “Active User” threshold.
« Read the rest of this entry »

Why PeopleRank is Intrinsically Flawed

January 27, 2011 § 3 Comments

By: Xianhang Zhang

The Quora team talks a lot about experts & the power of expertise, and one of Quora’s explicit goals is to attract and retain more experts, empowering them to contribute high quality content on the site. At the heart of this initiative is the shiny new “PeopleRank” system supposedly in the works to algorithmically determine the precise degree of expertise each person contains. I’m here to argue that such an approach is fundamentally flawed in that, no matter how good the algorithm may be, it will not produce the desired results of attracting experts because its processing of garbage input can only product garbage output. « Read the rest of this entry »

Evolving Quora’s Design for Growth

January 27, 2011 § 2 Comments

By: Adam Bossy

Quora is bursting at the seams. New users are rushing in. Although Quora veterans persistently complain about the site’s falling quality, it’s become a serious concern after the massive holiday surge.

While early adopters grokked the site’s design effectively, incoming users from a more widespread base have not. Misuse of common functionality, an increase in mediocre answers, and general noise pollution run rampant.

Retaining Quora’s high standards will demand attention on many fronts. « Read the rest of this entry »

Tiger Prawn Mom

January 27, 2011 § 6 Comments

ti·ger prawn mom [tahy-ger prawn mom]
1. Mothers who, instead of of traumatizing her kids through musical instrument lessons, inflicts similar damage on their kids through excessive use of holistic health practices, hearsay through church bible groups or zen retreats, inconsistent disciplinary practices, strange rapport-building practices, insistence on serving home-grown fruits, and a ton of karaoke.
2. A failed prototype of Tiger Mom. « Read the rest of this entry »

Global Quoran Reeducation

January 26, 2011 § 1 Comment

By: J.C. Hewitt

Quora obviates the need for massive numbers of teachers and professors scattered around the country teaching to disparate bands of disaffected children. Whether or not schooling itself is a debatable notion, but now that technologies like Quora have come along, traditional education must be viewed in a starker light.

Any child in the world with an internet connection can ask any question of anyone on the service. They can search through a database of hundreds of thousands of answers by adults of varying levels of experience. They can join into complex conversations regardless of their social status, wealth, gender, or anything else. A well-trained raven could contribute, and Quora wouldn’t know the difference. The users might notice, but there are no technical barriers to contribution. « Read the rest of this entry »

Notable Quora Users

January 26, 2011 § 2 Comments

“Notable Quora Users” will be a regular feature on The Quora Review highlighting new or heretofore undiscovered interesting users.  It is currently curated by Lynn Tao, with help from many other people.

  • Gen Shibayama: full time real estate investor based in San Francisco. But most of my investments are in Austin TX. Specialized in short sale and seller financing transactions.
  • danah boyd: scholar, activist, half energizer bunny / half weeble
  • Will Schreiber: Sustainability consultant; ecological and carbon footprinting; supply-chain management; sustainability strategy; behavioural change; and communications.
  • Jonathan Kang: CPU Designer
  • Sridhar Ramesh: graduate student in the Logic program at Berkeley.
  • Jonathon Green: Slang lexicographer. Author: Green’s Dictionary of Slang.
  • Chris Gouveia: 4th year medical student UCSF.
  • Lukas Neville: Ph.D. Candidate, Organizational Behaviour (Queen’s School of Business)
  • Virginia Postrel: Editor-in-Chief at deepglamor.net, biweekly columnist at WJS.
  • Steve Denton: Maths & theoretical physics graduate, IT professional, interested in all sorts of stuff.

Lynn Tao is a frequent Quora Lurker and an occasional Quora contributor.

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