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The answer to this Quora? No.

10th January 11

Posted by Saneel Radia

Posted in Rants

The question-and-answer site Quora is a big deal. It has some powerful supporters, with early content posted by a diverse group of digerati from Steve Case to Robert Scoble. It’s the talk of the media (see Google Trend of the word Quora).  There are weekly articles on how Quora will be bigger than Twitter.

So, I guess it was inevitable that I’d hate it. To clarify, it’s not that I don’t like Quora. It’s that I hate it and want it wiped off the face of the earth. In a missionary effort to reach those few that are yet to form an opinion on this site equivalent of an Uwe Boll movie, I offer the following 3 reasons to resist boarding this bandwagon.

It’s spam.

This site diabolically infects those with the largest spam potential. I guess when a site is launched by the former head of Facebook Connect, it’s inevitable. By launching after Facebook established critical mass and Twitter became a big deal, Quora made a splash in the saturated question-and-answer site category. So, giving people the opportunity to be in the spotlight with their answer to an already-answered question is an ingenious way to drive audience and usage by appealing to ego. And I don’t even mind ego-stroking. I just don’t want to be repeatedly spammed across my various feeds as people whose content I otherwise love and trust fall victim to name-in-lights syndrome. Then again, if I could convince people I invented tape, it might be worth it….

There are dozens of Quoras about what Quora is.

OK, so maybe #Twitter was a trending topic on Twitter the first 6 months. But those conversations were focused primarily on usage and innovation with the platform. The Quora self-referential conversations are literally people scratching their heads looking for value. There’s no better sign that the emperor has no clothes people. But until we admit it, we’ll just keep tweeting how awesome he looks in that special toga (author’s note: this has nothing to do with how awesome I think the hashtag #emperorsclothes would be, promise).

Quora is attempting to differentiate itself via answer quality.

This is defended through its use of Facebook Connect (real people!) and an interest graph (curated topics!). Here’s the thing about quality: it’s inversely related to scale on the web. Generally, users or an algorithm are required to remove the noise. Last I looked, countless services already do this. They go by ticker symbols like GOOG, have David Fincher movies made about them, or add a new user every second (most of whom request a professional recommendation after a single meeting together).

So, let’s sit this Quora thing out. We were able to resist Google Wave and Ping. Let’s make it three in a row that we tried and let pass quietly. This isn’t to say I don’t respect ktunnel the effort or experimentation of any company trying something new (Google & Apple are incredible at innovation investment). In Quora’s case, I just think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it via my newsfeed.

Now world, if you’re not on board, pretty please give me a heads-up that I’m taking on a lost cause.

Then I can start a new Quora-related Quora: “How can I get a job at Quora?”

{Update: I’ve agreed to write a follow-up post to either eat my words or discuss what I got right after some, ahem, encouragement from readers. So keep an eye out!}

{Update #2: We asked Leslie Barry to elaborate on his comment below and he’s posted a rebuttal, explaining the unique value of Quora I’ve neglected in the post above.}

2 comments on “The answer to this Quora? No.”

  1. [...] I stumbled across a post from Saneel Radia, the Director of Innovation at BBHNew York. The post, The answer to this Quora? No. , started by saying “So, I guess it was inevitable that I’d hate it. To clarify, it’s not [...]

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