The media world has been ablaze with the word Quora since the site announced its official launch at the end of 2010. Some of you may have heard about it, and I imagine that many of you have not.
Here is the basic breakdown of Quora, put simply by the website's About Us section:
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.
To make a long story short, Quora exists to create a system where the community polices, creates, and builds content around questions. The very existence of Quora can be traced back to Wikipedia. We can see many similarities between the two sites: Wikipedia is content created by individuals, and Quora is questions answered by individuals. There are plenty of other differences, but we will leave that to another article.
There have been plenty of suggestions in the World Wide Web on reasons to use Quora. In their quest for online knowledge domination, people have been building content portals for years! Quora is just another in a long line of data development sites. However, all kidding aside there are some good reasons to use Quora in the world of digital communication:
- Content is community organized and edited. The site allows for people to vote on answers to questions, which ranks the question as an "upvote" or "downvote." This can help you (the reader) sort through answers to find the right one for you.
- Quality comes with voting. There is more a chance for quality content when users can rank answers. Also, Quora has recruited experts in their fields to provide quality answers to questions asked by the community.
There is the community and networking element of Quora that is also important, but the true value lies in the content being created by the individuals on the site.
So how do you get started in this world of questions, answers, networking, and trending? Let's take a look.
After you have created your account on Quora, it is important to understand some basic features that will help you when using the site. You have to first start by setting up a good feed.
Your Activity Feed
The activity feed has recent activity about the content that interests you. Your feed is displayed on your home page and helps with organization of content. The health of your feed is dependent on the amount of topics you follow or search. (We will explain more about following and searching in the following section.)
There are two important things to follow in the world of Quora: topics and people. When you follow a topic, questions and answers tagged with that topic will appear in your feed. When you follow people, you will see the same displayed in your feed.
Quora has developed the same type of Twitter functionality that allows you to follow people on the micro-blogging site. In Quora, you have the ability to follow topics. When you sign in to your Quora account, you will have the ability to browse for topics of interest in the database. When you find a question you like, you can follow that topic to receive updates on answers to the question.
See Figure 1 for an example of a question, some answers, and the green follow button. (Does this remind you of another site?)
Notice that on the right side of the page is a Related Questions section, in which where new questions are waiting that are related to the topical question to the right. This feature gives you multiple options to explore while using Quora.
Add Answers to Questions
If you scroll to the bottom of the question base, you will see an Add Answer box at the bottom of the site. This gives you the ability to add an answer to the question and the community development of the specific content.
Remember to use the Save Draft button if something comes up that needs immediate attention. This button will save your answer for editing and adding later on in the day or evening.
Sharing a Question and Answer
Quora also gives you the ability to share your question or answer with your social media community. If you want your network to build the answer to a specific question, it is easy to "ask for an answer" via Facebook or email.
The Quora Inbox
The Quora Inbox is a list of messages from individuals who are now following your progress in Quora. If an individual wants you to contribute an answer to a specific question, an invite can be sent and will show up in your Inbox. You can either choose to ignore the question or provide an answer.
Your Quora Profile
The profile is your personal portal to everything Quora. You have the ability to upload your picture and friend/follow other users on the site. Remember to fill out the information needed to complete your profile. Also remember to add your headline to your profile. Your headline is like a Twitter or LinkedIn short bio. A headline can read something like this:
Principal at MindFrame, Author of Twitter Marketing for Dummies and Branding Yourself, Speaker
You also have the ability to add a detailed description about you under your picture within your profile. This gives users more an idea of who you are rather than your short headline description.
Your Quora Home
The Home page on Quora gives you an update of the top answered (and ranked) questions while you are browsing the site. It also gives you a list of people you may know in order to start following and building more of a group.
When you first start using the site, Quora can be pretty intimidating[md]there are thousands upon thousands of pieces of content being generated. This includes answers to questions, editing of content, and building of questions around certain topics. Quora is building a community of thought leaders in industries spanning from technology to biology and everywhere in between.
Want to start small? Create your profile and follow a few topics. It may be a good idea to answer a few questions as well. Start small and grow big. If you find Quora to be a waste of time, remember, it is okay to step away and look for something else that helps in the long run.