After seeing people talk about Quora, I decided to give it a whirl. I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I was struck by the variety of questions and topics. I answered a few math questions, posted a couple of medical questions regarding a work project, answered a couple of medical questions, and browsed things ranging from esoteric to intellectual to whimsical to downright childish.
From their website:
Why Quora Exists
Quora’s mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. A vast amount of the knowledge that would be valuable to many people is currently only available to a few — either locked in people’s heads, or only accessible to select groups. We want to connect the people who have knowledge to the people who need it, to bring together people with different perspectives so they can understand each other better, and to empower everyone to share their knowledge for the benefit of the rest of the world.
My high level view:
- There is a broad diversity of questions and an even broader spectrum of answers.
- There is a lot of noise and not a lot of signal.
- It’s clear that a lot of the questions aren’t serious.
- There is some dangerous business going down in the medical q/a section.
Overall, I was pretty disappointed. I see much more learned and intellectual conversation on Facebook. I asked two questions, just to try it out. The one that I knew the answer to, I got the answer. The one asking for resources for online medical education got
It may be that this medium has yet to really develop, but it’s been around for 7 years and is supposed to have 100 million users, so I’m not sure that development is the problem. It seems to me that there are a lot of kids, people posing as kids, people with a lot of free time, and people hawking snake oil on the site. Example, there was a sincere question about early cancer detection, and the only answer that was given was by some huckster pushing meditation technique instead of proven medical practice. I completely agree with caveat emptor, but on the flip side, allowing content like that is dangerous. I’m sure the site has a bunch of microtext disclaimers, but sometimes people really do believe everything they see on the internet.
In the week since I first tried Quora, I avoided it for several days. It was too easy to get sucked deeper and deeper into nonproductive endeavors. I tiptoed back into it, mostly passing on questions I was asked to answer, but were out of my scope. In my attempts to revise and perfect my basecamp site, I did ask some WordPress – related questions. My frustration with the limited functionality of the free themes under the free plan continued and was reinforced by the responses I got. I’m just not going to get my site to do what I want without more juice. Eventually, I’ll have to live with it or use the downloadable WordPress software and explore hosting options.