Quora 101: What Is Quora?

Posted by Amrita Saha Banerjee

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What is Quora? It’s a question that may be best answered on Quora itself. To describe it in very simplistic terms, it is a question-and- answer online forum. For questions that bubble in our minds daily, Quora is likely to be the site to go to receive opinions and, most importantly, answers. To give it a try myself, I asked Quora, "What is the future of Pinterest?"

Here’s what I found:

whatisthefuture

In addition to the answer that I was looking for, I also found many other questions that were related to the same topic, answers from various people, as well as different perspectives related to Pinterest.

This seems resourceful and informative, right? But then again, can I rely on these answers? Why don’t I just Google this anyway? What would be the difference?

Like me, all of you must be thinking the same way. Let’s explore Quora to find it out.

Founded in 2009 by two former Facebook employees, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, Quora has created a lot of buzz for itself. It is known as a question-and-answer website created, edited and organized by its community of users. However it has a formal definition too. Adam D'Angelo, Quora founder defines Quora as:

“Quora connects you to everything you want to know about. Quora aims to be the easiest place to write new content and share content from the web. We organize people and their interests so you can find, collect and share the information most valuable to you.”

Personally, this statement and the experience makes it seem more like a social network than just a question-and-answer site. I wondered if the aim was to gain more market share from the big players in the social networking environment. If this is so, to curve a mark for yourself in such a competitive environment, businesses need to provide some unique differentiating features. Does Quora have anything like that? I guess this is the most important question that Quora needs to answer. Let’s ask this question…

"How is Quora different from other social networks?"

On Quora, your main identity is your interests and your expertise. Your friends can see what topics you are interested in, and what questions you are answering. You gain status by having a well phrased answer that properly addresses the question. You can follow people you find insightful and through them you find new people.

Sounding similar to other popular websites? But Quora seems to be different in a way that…

Quora is Yahoo! Answers, but instead the same questions and answers are continually being edited, reviewed and added to. It comes with a user friendly interface, which focuses on real identities of users, and has no limited window to answer questions.

Quora is Google Search, but instead, you get your answer from subject-matter experts along with different views and explanations instead of various and sometimes low-quality links to the same question.

Quora is Facebook, but instead, you follow categories of interest and topics versus people such as friends and family.Your main identity is defined by your knowledge and expertise instead of your profile page where you upload photos and your friends post on your wall.

Quora is Wikipedia, but instead it answers your specific question rather than being just an encyclopedia. It provides a mechanism for social and interest-specific real-time distribution of information. Quora effectively supports multiple points of view, discussions and allows you to get to know other respondents.

In short, Quora's uniqueness comes from the fact that users have the ability to seek information independently, by asking a question that is tailored to exactly what they want to know. Its biggest strength and what sets it apart from its competitors is its ability to act as a focused crowd-sourcing clearinghouse. The ability to follow topics and questions in a niche allows it to be a great market research tool. 

You can follow our Likeable CEO, Dave Kerpen, on Quora, too.