Why Quora will be a slow burner success

There may be no service on Earth full of as much spurious misinformation, confusion and doubt as Yahoo Answers. There’s a sense of 100 monkeys at 100 typewriters with the occasional answer breaking for freedom with a whisper of welcome sanity.

By contrast, I think Quora has more potential, and many agree. However, there are a good number of people out there who think it’ll never expand its appeal beyond the small group of techies who are currently singing its praises.

I think they’re missing the point and underestimating where Quora is in its lifespan.

Producers vs Consumers

It’s a good thing that Quora is currently frequented almost solely by the holders of knowledge.

Like Twitter, it’s an asynchronous network – that is to say; one user or piece of content can have many followers/ readers without preceding need for the relationship to be reciprocated.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell famously describe three groups – Connectors, Salesmen and Mavens. If you haven’t read it, quickly check out that last link. In short, it’s the early-adopters and knowledgeable experts who like to pass information on.

Quora needs these knowledgeable Mavens to fill up its database and moderate other answers- at the moment, they’re doing their bit and naturally this is going to include techies who will be among the first to become aware of it.

For now, there isn’t enough catalogued information for mainstream users to find it handy and they aren’t equipped with the expertise and/or skills to write answers worthy of being voted up.

But that’s all fine because of…

The Search Factor

Think of it like this:

  • PHASE 1: Fill your coffers with info from amazing, sometimes first party sources.
  • PHASE 2: Mainstream audience is slowly more and more exposed via search/ friends in network
  • PHASE 3: Monetise!

“But without a mainstream audience, nobody will see all this wit and wisdom” I hear you cry!

Let’s talk again once the steady stream of regularly updated and well-formatted data makes its way up the Google Search ranks.

FURTHER READING: @DannyWhatmough wrote a good article about what the Quora example tells us about over-excited tech commentators here, give it a glance.

- Max Tatton-Brown

January 31st, 2011