Who was your first crush on Quora


The web year 2011 seems to have already found its first big topic: A US startup called Quora has rapidly blossomed into the focus of attention of web experts and social media fans. The underlying question / answer principle seems simple, but can be implemented in countless variants and can be understood as an essential basic component of the entire Internet: Ultimately, all search engines serve the need to get answers to certain questions and often end up at the beginning of a browsing the web.

However, what no algorithm can yet adequately manage, even in times of developing social search, is the precise comparison between search query and the highest quality answer. Put simply, this means that the machine is still far inferior to the semantic understanding and abstraction ability of the human brain. This difference becomes the starting point of social networks in which users exchange their knowledge and has already driven countless forums and boards in the pre-Facebook times.

The sought-after resource of knowledge

How important the concept of "creating knowledge" is to be assessed in the context of the web can be visualized using several examples:

  • Google bought the Aardvark question and answer search engine in 2009 for an estimated $ 50 million.
  • In early 2010, Formspring was one of the blogsphere's most talked about services. Here, users answer the questions put to them publicly on their profile.
  • In September of last year, the German page gutefrage.net was among the ten most visited German online offers with 12.5 million unique visitors.

So Quora does not do pioneering work, but deals with a well-known topic with novel mechanisms that are intended to anchor the project in the awareness of Web 2.0 in the long term. The fact that the former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo is behind the startup can also be seen as a promising argument, as can the total value of 86 million dollars, which was estimated last year.

Exclusivity and dynamism

Quora gained a decisive boost from the fact that numerous top-class Web 2.0 minds make their expertise available here in direct dialogue and offer insights into their knowledge as well as into company-internal decision-making processes. For example, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels answers a question about the cloud computing companies of the social commerce market leader. Conventional ways of one-way corporate communication are therefore overridden and Quora users are authorized to make direct contact. Formspring has already been able to offer something similar, but does not continue the thread of thematic links and assessments of answers to the same extent as is the case with Quora. Tag categorizations and rankings of the posts create swarm intelligence that breaks down complex topics and constantly offers further knowledge and related strands. The sophistication of Quora is hidden in the dualism between personal representation and collective knowledge. Naturally, prominent network participants are highly attractive to potential new users. This phenomenon has already been observed on Twitter. With Quora, you can also follow people in the classic network tradition, but following topics and developing discussions play a bigger role. A "Live Engagement Display" shows the user in which areas answers are currently being worked out and individualized feeds ensure constant updates.

Increasing user numbers expected

Although Quora has so far only been accessible via invites in Germany and is primarily traded as a meeting place for web entrepreneurs and die-hard social media fans, we can already see how the range of topics is becoming wider. The integration of Twitter and Facebook functions suggests that with the complete elimination of the invite barrier at the latest, a further significant increase in users can be expected. The debate about the “official language” of Quora should then intensify: At the moment, the conversation on the site is only taking place in English. If Quora can successfully filter the dreaded "noise" for users via the personalization options and ranking systems, there is the potential to generate a constantly growing pool of knowledge that could become relevant as a communication channel and tool for knowledge acquisition for both private individuals and entrepreneurs.

(Image source: Quora)