Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

People asking questions for sake of asking questions: Quora is a fad

Robert Beerworth Team : Web Strategy Tags : Web Strategy

It is extraordinary how quickly Quora has taken off.

So quickly in fact that based on my straw poll of clients, you’re entirely unlikely to even know what Quora is, let alone that it has taken off.

But it has.

It’s grown from a small, invitation-only question/answer website to a site adding thousands and thousands of new members every hour thanks to much hyping by technology review and discussion websites such as TechCrunch and Mashable. (If you don’t know what Quora is, have a look at its Wikipedia entry. It’s viral growth has been a 101 case study.

Is it however, the next phenomenon like Facebook and Twitter? And Foursquare, if that is a phenomenon by your definition.

I don’t think so.

Indeed, I see it very much like Foursquare in that its hype and audience has been quickly built by the frothing of Internet guys and girls, but without particular or long-lasting appeal to the everyday user.

It may grow over time, though it is no phenomenon, irrespective of how quickly it signs up users.

Indeed, I read some stats in Saturday’s Good Weekend Magazine (Sydney Morning Herald) about the true state of Twitter and the zillions of accounts it has, and when it boils down to it, very few accounts are genuine or regularly used.

My Quora account has already gone that way.

Most of the Quora questions and answers (and members) I have observed are indeed, the small pool of regular Twitter users I follow that regularly tweet and carry on. Nothing wrong with that, except that I feel that Quora is the same audience of die-hard, Internet folk and no more. My wife, my friends and my clients are not using Quora in the same way they are not using Twitter or Foursquare.

It is unfair to entitle this blog ‘People asking questions for sake of asking questions’ because many of the questions asked, and the answers answered are very good. Quora is an amazing technical achievement, and some of the content is very rich and unique. It beats the crap out of Yahoo Answers.

Indeed, if Quora was able to integrate its service into everyday websites and the ‘web fabric’, then we might have a winner.

I’m not sure it will, and I still get the feeling that many users are posing as opposed to genuinely asking questions deep to their heart.

Vivek Washwa, an occasional contributor to Techcrunch who I quite admire, has written a great blog ‘Why I Don’t Buy the Quora Hype’ though he argues it slightly differently and more broadly to me.

He makes the excellent point that “Silicon Valley is again drinking its own Kool-Aid; it is looking at the world through its own prism.” I couldn’t agree more.

Our industry has an undying thirst for the next niche, killer technology/website that we’ll jump onto any bandwagon like sheep. We install the iPad app and pretend our lives could not have existed any further without said technology/website/

I may be wrong.

But my instinct from talking to everyday clients is that Quora is, at best, one of those services that will survive and putter along and at worse, a fad.

Groupon on the other hand… don’t get me started. I’m all up for $15bn fads!