Thursday, 10 February 2011

Has Quora lost it's stickiness factor?

January 2011.

It was the start of a new year and in a way I was glad December 2010 was over, not because of anything else but the fact that for the entire month of December, everywhere you turned, you kept hearing about "The Best of 2010" or "It happened in 2010."

For those with short attention spans, reminding them what happened in 2010 may be important but I just somehow saw a little too much of it this year so when 2011 rolled around, I was eager to see what the year will bring.

One of the first things everyone on the social media networks was talking about in the first week of January was Quora.  Quora for those who aren't aware of what it is, is basically a question and answer site but what made it even more intriguing was the fact that you could join Quora by "invitation only."  (Click here to learn more about Quora).

Before you knew it, in the first two weeks of January, everyone was talking about Quora.  I was reading people's questions and answers on Quora, but alas, I couldn't join Quora because I wasn't "invited."  Even my friend David George-Cosh from The National, started using answers from Quora in his stories.

I felt like I was standing outside a popular nightclub in Dubai without any wasta or connections.  You wait behind the velvet rope while the bouncer tells you the club is full and a minute later, you see him lift that same velvet rope and in goes someone who's obviously got enough influence to get his way in.  All of a sudden, Quora was the place to be and if you weren't on Quora, you weren't "in."

Not knowing what to do and too embarassed to admit I hadn't been invited by anyone, I turned to a fellow social networker and sent her a DM (Direct Message) on Twitter to see if she could invite me.  It was just my luck, that even with her brilliant connections, she wasn't on Quora yet.  However, being as resourceful as she was, she shamelessly asked on Twitter for someone to invite her, bagged an invite for herself and then went on to invite me.

Finally I was on Quora!

Initially I loved Quora.  It seemed to be full of intellectuals and I was reading up on many great questions, answering questions and in all honestly seeing this as the way forward in educating myself.  I would logon to Quora without fail a few times a day and struggled to keep up with all the topics on Quora as I kept realizing there was no end to what you could learn or contribute on Quora.

Then I started to see the pool dry up.  The same questions appeared, some of the intellect seemed to disappear and as I started going days without finding a decent question to answer, I found myself answering questions that were honestly downright silly.

Then it dawned me earlier this week when I saw a question on Quora that asked "Are you using Quora as much as you did in January 2011?"  I looked at it and reflected, before answering.  Was the honeymoon with Quora over?  Was this the nightclub that suddenly lost its charm?  Had the in-crowd moved somewhere else?  Despite the appearance of a chunky bouncer with a velvet rope, was this the nightclub that people went to in the hopes of transacting business (like many of Dubai's shadier establishments)?

I still make it to a point to log onto Quora.  I may not have the sense of excitement on there, I've probably lowered my expecations but I do hope it bounces back.  In a world where social media and networks dominate the way we interact with each other, Quora has been a breath of fresh air.  You may hesitate answering random questions on Twitter or Facebook from people you don't know, but somehow on Quora, it seemed a lot more natural.  To see your questions voted up or acknowledged by absolute strangers does give you a sense of satisfaction in knowing you've shared your knowledge and it's been appreciated.

As much as I love the 140 character format of Twitter, the widespread appeal within Facebook or the random thoughts I put more extensively onto the blogs that I manage, Quora is special because it allows you talk about things you wouldn't talk about normally or read about things you wouldn't think of reading.  I know friends or colleagues of mine, who have directly or indirectly benefitted from Quora because I've shared some knowledge I gained on there with them.

As much as the month of February has been a challenge for Quora, I hope it finds it legs and continues to bring us much more in 2011.