If Quora is the answer, what is the question?
The New Year has seen a ton of hype about Quora, the community-based question and answer site. In part this is due to its pedigree, with a management team that left Facebook to set the company up, secondly a lack of news prior to CES and finally a reflection of the basic human interest in asking questions (and giving answers). Just look at the number of failed attempts to provide intelligent question answering – Ask Jeeves being a prime example.
But while the ability for anyone to provide answers is interesting, I think it could be the site/network’s Achilles heel. Essentially, rather than using smart technology to catalogue existing content on the net, like Cambridge-based True Knowledge, Quora relies on it all being resubmitted. Great if you are a journalist looking for a range of responses for an article, but difficult to scale and not helpful if you are in a real hurry. How many Quora replies could have been handled through a Google or Wikipedia search and a bit of lateral thinking?
Essentially Quora is point technology – a cynical take on the current hype is that it has a smallish window to build subscribers and sell itself to another social network before they build the technology themselves. Like the rather sparse Future of Quora topic, what happens next to the company is difficult to predict.