Why Quora Is Not Wikipedia

February 3, 2011 § 127 Comments

By: Seb Paquet

“Perspective is worth 80 IQ Points” – Alan Kay

Wikipedia‘s mission is “to compile the sum of all human knowledge”. And it does so amazingly well. But exactly what is meant by “the world’s knowledge”? The simple and quick answer is validated knowledge. Established knowledge. Validated knowledge is immensely useful. Basically, it represents the solidified sum of human culture: all we can take for granted. Wikipedia reflects consensus reality, or tries very hard to do so. In this respect, you could say that Wikipedia is past-bound: it offers knowledge of what has been known.

However, there’s another segment of the world’s knowledge that is hazy and tentative. It is emphatically not validated. It is contentious. It is controversial. It’s messy. You could call it pre-knowledge. In pre-knowledge territory, conflicting points of view abound, and nobody’s quite sure what is true. This is the evolutionary edge of human culture.
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It’s Not My Fault You Are New to Quora

February 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

By: Jamie Beckland

A lot of people – especially new users – think Quora is hard to use. And the sign up process is not as easy as it could be (as David Pogue recently pointed out). But Quora’s initial wonkiness actually helps it be a better site.

Because when something is great, you should have to work a little bit to get it.
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Mobile Kicking Booth, AriBot2K, and Weapons of Mass Distraction at the 2011 Quora Gone Pub

January 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

PALO ALTO, CA — Last Saturday evening, the January Quora Active User Party took place at The Old Pro, a local sports bar. Over 100 active contributors showed up to mindmeld over beers and televised sports. Anticipation had been incubating for weeks in this rather socially well-adjusted crowd. Many were looking forward to rubbing shoulders with Quora celebrities like Charlie “Awk Hottie” Cheever, Rebekah “Daniel Day-Lewis” Cox, and Yishan “STFU Scoble” Wong. As they arrived, party attendees were checked against a strict guest list, and the party entrance was manned by none other than Mark “He’s not black?” Bodnick and a bouncer who looked quite like Biggie Smalls.
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Robert Scoble’s Severed Head, Truthiness, and the Surrender Chicken

January 31, 2011 § 6 Comments

By: Tristan Kromer

our new policy on self-promoting “social media experts” is to just kill them all, and let God sort it out. – Quora User (name redacted)

I was quite admittedly flattered when I was invited to join the closed Quora Review group on Facebook but confused. Why would the elite from Quora invite me to join? Why do they need a Facebook group? What’s the group for? And why couldn’t someone have invited me to the Quora party instead? (Sounds way more fun.)

Now I’m pretty sure I don’t belong. « Read the rest of this entry »

Sorry, Scoble, Quora is not your playground

January 30, 2011 § 86 Comments

By: Dan Kaplan

“This used to be my playground. This used to be my childhood dream. This used be the place I ran to…whenever I was in need.”   -Madonna

So Robert Scoble, it seems you don’t like the heat. In the bygone days of what feels like ten minutes ago, you, the ubiquitous tech evangelist, larger-than-life personality and Rackspace blogger, couldn’t stop gushing about how great Quora was. Was Quora, you asked in the halcyon age of last December, the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years? Of course it was. Back in them days and throughout January, you could post answers to a wide range of questions and your ardent Twitter followers could upvote them en masse and each upvote and congratulatory comment could generate that awesome squirt of dopamine in your brain. And wasn’t it grand?

But, my, how quickly things can change. « Read the rest of this entry »

A response to Mr. Wadhwa

January 29, 2011 § 9 Comments

By: Michael Wolfe

Vivek Wadhwa, I like a lot of your writing and am into many of the topics you cover, especially international entrepreneurship and the role of entrepreneurship in economic development.  But at the risk of never getting invited to join you on one of your international boondoggles, I just cannot let your Quora post remain un-deconstructed.  Please, all, follow along with me here. « Read the rest of this entry »

On Egypt Protests And Our Arab Strategy

January 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

By: Catalin Braescu

Street protests in AlexandriaLet me introduce myself: I’m Catalin Braescu (you may call me “Cat”) co-founder of Silicon Nile. We aim to be an Internet conglomerate on the scope (and size) of Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu (all in one) aiming for #1 position on the Arab market.

Because of our special insight on the Arab market, I feel compelled to explain a bit what is going on these days in Egypt. I see a lot of uninformed comments – it just itches me to add my 2 cents.
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How to Minimize the Amount of Junk You See on Quora

January 28, 2011 § 7 Comments

By: June Lin

Of late, a lot of people have been writing about the problems Quora has with scaling, suggesting UI changes, advocating for new reviewer tools, and so forth. Let’s all admit that Quora (company) isn’t going to be implementing any of these changes soon, but there are things that you can do as a user within the bounds of the current feature set to make your experience browsing Quora less like “body-surfing through shit”[1] and more like partaking in tasty morsel after tasty morsel in a nine course meal at Per Se. « Read the rest of this entry »

Quora Person of the Year: YOU

January 28, 2011 § 3 Comments

By: Shannon Larson

The key to understanding all there is to Quora is right there in the tagline welcoming all new users:  A continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.

When I first joined Quora, back when it was in invite-only beta, new users approached the service with a bit of reverance. We had heard about how great it was – a well of insight, knowledge, and first-rate advice – and we had been invited to take part. Before posting, everyone spent a few days lurking – following questions, upvoting outstanding answers, and generally learning how the site works. Questions were thought-provoking or addressed a very specific need. The prevailing attitude of what constituted an acceptable answer can be represented by a question posted in June, “Should you only answer questions on Quora if you happen to be an expert in that subject area?” Back then, practically every answer marked unhelpful was a genuinely funny joke, often thoughtfully composed (see Ludi Rehak’s list of the best non-helpful joke answers). « Read the rest of this entry »

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 »