Why Quora Is A Dead Man Walking

Let me begin by saying that I have only used Quora briefly. Mostly because I don’t see the value. I understand the concept of crowd sourcing. But crowd sourcing only works if you have a large diverse crowd to draw from. That’s the underlying premise, pull the best answers from a large diverse group of opinions and ideas. Compared to other question and answer sites, Quora isn’t large or diverse.

I have only posted one question and that will probably be my last. Here’s why: Earlier today I posted: “Is Quora an appropriate place to ask silly questions for comedic value?” I then posted it to Twitter and one of my twitter followers responded. Then a few minutes later I get a status message that says someone has redirected my question to “Is Quora only for ‘serious’ questions?” At first I was thinking, Well that’s cool they are trying to help by pointing out an already existing thread.

But then I realized that no, they are actually 301ing my original question thread! Meaning that if you go to my original question you will now be redirected to another user’s question instead.

So here we have a site that completely thrives off of user submitted content and they think its OK to highjack that content whenever they want.

I know what many of you are thinking, But, Joe, its the same question. They are trying to help. I don’t care if its the same question. Its not the question that I even care about, its the answers. Just because someone else has posted the same question, doesn’t mean we are going to have the same dialog as well.

So why do I think this means the end of Quora? Because, users don’t like to have their conversations high jacked, and Quora killing their own content mill.

Can you imagine a moderator at Twitter redirecting similar tweets from different users, completely derailing their user’s dialog? I was looking forward to continuing my dialog with my twitter follower that posted a question, but that conversation was cut short (or off rather).

If you ask any web entrepreneur what’s the biggest value in question and answer sites they will tell you, content generation. These types of sites churn out very high quality content that works very well in search engines. But, if your content is riddled with 301′s and redirects then you can kiss that value goodbye. I know what you are thinking, what about duplicate content? aren’t they doing the right thing cutting down on duplicate content? This isn’t duplicate content, because it would take nothing less than a miracle for similar questions to create identical answers and dialog!

Which is where the real value is to begin with! In the dialog! Which in my case no longer exist.

If you thought this post was half way interesting, you might want to follow @joehall on Twitter. Hes a total nut bag over there, but worth a few laughs.

7 Comments

Dan on January 4, 2011 at 11:54 am.

To be honest, I didn’t realize they redirected the question at first after I made that comment. I thought they deleted my comment altogether, lol.

They do have the URL at the top that directs back to the original question + comments I found later.

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Joe Hall on January 4, 2011 at 11:59 am.

Yea I saw they have the original link with a query attribute in the URL to break the 301. But I think they also use a noindex on the original, so, even if a search bot gets through on that link, they aren’t indexing it.

Oh well man, we can have our conversations else where!

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Andy on January 4, 2011 at 2:06 pm.

Well I suppose not every query needs new answers – you can go to your original, fill out more information and I suppose in some way there will be a way for people to find your original query.

You could also look on Quora as a curated FAQ on each question – you can actually go back and edit your answers at a later date which rocks compared to many similar services.

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Tom Demers on January 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm.

So I saw your tweet on this and I think Quora is probably going to be “the next big thing” so I was all fired up to disagree with you, but I didn’t realize they were 301ing questions that aggressively so I was stopped in my tracks a bit :). I agree that’s a pretty inelegant way of consolidating questions (better maybe to send you a warning that there’s this similar question, if you don’t say otherwise in x hours we’ll move this to that thread, if you want to keep your question up click here and we’ll leave it, that sort of thing).

That said I think Quora as a whole could be great the site feels to me like kind of a “next generation” forum it’s really easy to start following topics you’re interested in and IMHO it does a really nice job of surfacing new and interesting threads. With Twitter, FB, and Reddit/Digg et al there is a definite gap that I feel like something that did a nice job of imitating forums could fill. To your point though I recently got on and started following stuff around IM and stuff around tech/startups and the tech/startup threads are multipliers better at the moment because they are the early adopters over there and the community is killer (lots of founders answering questions about the company a question is about, etc.) and lots of the IM stuff seems to me to be lower quality.

SO agreed they need a better solution for the issue here, and also agreed they will sink or swim based on how effective they are at building community around topics, but looking at what they’ve accomplished with the startup/tech topic space I think you might be wrong about their long-term ability to do it around other topics.

My 2c.

Tom

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Ryan I on January 5, 2011 at 9:22 am.

They didn’t even DO a good job of finding a similar question, in my opinion. I normally get frustrated when people claim semantics, but I would read and answer your “comedic questions” question very differently than I would the “only serious questions” question.

Serious question: How do you deal with a loved one’s substance abuse problem?

Non-serious question: What’s going on with Axel Rose these days? Loved his old stuff! Any updates would be appreciated.

Comedic question: This sentence is a lie. Do you agree? Honest answers only please.

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will41 on January 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm.

I have only posted one question and that will probably be my last. Here

Reply

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