More-a about Quora

I first wrote about the social question and answer site Quora last June – I mention this to point out that I am considerably dorkier than you.

Anyways, something has made Quora very, very popular in the last week. This has manifested itself in the form of huge numbers of notification emails being sent out to users as new accounts are opened and people exercise their option to automatically add Twitter connections and email contacts to their Quora lists.

(Paul Clarke covers this issue nicely on his blog.)

Since signing up last summer though, I’ve done precious little on Quora. All the fuss made me go back and have a bit of a play.

I started out by asking the question How could Quora be used in UK local government? just to get started, and created a topic (like a folder or category) to put it in, which hopefully others will use too.

The creation of the topic is an interesting example of how Quora works – it’s all very collaborative. My original topic was called localgovuk which probably wasn’t terribly descriptive. So somebody came along and changed it, to Local government in the UK which makes much more sense!

Three people responded to the question (thanks, Noel, Benjamin and Andy!) so do go and have a look at what they said.

I think the potential use falls into two categories: firstly the use of Quora as a knowledge (and ignorance!) sharing tool for folk working in public services delivery; and secondly as a way for citizens to ask questions about what the public sector are doing.

However, while I have been trying to remember to check back into Quora to see what’s happening, it is yet to obviously stake its space in my workflow. It’s an effort to go there and use it, and until it finds a way of becoming part of my routine it will struggle I think.

Also, there’s too much of it. I think it needs better filters, because it is often too hard to find things and also it’s a real time sink – you can spend hours there without doing anything particularly productive – and I already have Twitter for that.

I’d be interested in the views of others who have used it. Is it a real game changer? I’m a skeptic right now.

Update: The FCO’s Jimmy Leach blogs his view on whether government interaction with Quora is necessary.


QuoraQuora is an interesting looking service, providing a fairly straightforward question and answer platform. It’s been in closed beta for a while, but now has been unleashed onto the public at large.

It’s all about capturing the activity we all do on sites like Twitter: asking questions, giving answers, and researching topics online. Quora adds to this activity by turning it into a searchable and collaborative archive:

Quora is a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The most important thing is to have each question page become the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about the question.

Part of the reason for some of the hype around Quora is the fact that it has been founded by a bunch of people involved in Facebook’s early days. They know how to build a decent web app.

TechCrunch have a decent write-up, with a warning of a potential problem now the site is public:

Their biggest challenge is about to begin. Quora has generated attention not just because of its slick interface, but because of the extremely high quality of its answers up until this point — it isn’t unusual for someone to ask a question and have it answered by a top expert in the field within a matter of hours (or less). Likewise, questions about various Internet companies often attract answers from longtime employees. The big question now is whether or not Quora will be able to maintain that quality as it deals with an influx of new users.

I’ve signed up, and you can find me here. Will be fascinating to see how this works out.

Update: writing this reminded me about Formspring, which hasn’t really taken off for me. Quora differs because it is based on subjects and issues rather than individuals. My Formspring page is here.