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Well, believe it or not, a new social media opportunity is upon us. Quora is a new project straight from the brains of Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, two former Facebook heavy hitters.

In short, here is an excerpt from Crunch Base describing Quora:

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.

[The Goal:] Eventually, when you see a link to a question page on Quora, your feeling should be: “Oh, great! That’s going to have all the information I want about that.” It’s also a place where new stuff–that no one has written about yet–can get pulled onto the web.

Exploring Quora

I first heard about Quora from an article back in January when they where launching the private beta. I submitted my email address to join the beta and after a while (A LONG WHILE), finally received my invitation last week. 

So with much excitement at being able to explore a new social media platform, I signed up and took a gander.

When you sign up, there is an option to connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts (a standard for all new social media sites),and then you choose some topics that interest you. Naturally, I selected work related topics such as SEO, Twitter, Facebook, Search Marketing, Marketing, and so on. I then selected some of my favorite geeky topics: Mac OS X, Apple, WordPress, etc. Since this is a question/answer system, it is good to select topics you know something about.

And then… a lot of exploring.

Quora Home Page

Quora Topic Page

Quora Question Page

The navigation of the site does take some getting use to. It is very Facebook-ish in style, providing a news feed of the latest questions on my topics of interest. It is still taking some time to find where certain options reside within different parts of the site.

One of the biggest advantages that I see is the ability to follow more than just people. You can still follow different users, but you can also follow specific topics and individual questions/conversations, which gives you the opportunity to be involved at many different levels.

My First Question

The first thing I wanted to do was ask a question: “I’m new to Quora, but I am curious to know how active the community is, and how Quora differs from Yahoo Answers?” Okay so technically it was two questions, but I did that on purpose. I was pretty certain the question already existed and there was already a good answer somewhere but I was too eager to ask and not search. I also wanted to see what would happen since none of my Twitter or Facebook contacts were on Quora, leaving me to wonder who would bother answering this lowly question. 

In a matter of minutes, a lady by the name of Tracy Chou took my question, truncated it to: “How does Quora differ from Yahoo Answers?” then redirected it to the already existing question that had a great answer in place. I still haven’t figured how to redirect a question, but was really impressed on the results.

Now I know you all have the same question, so here are the answer(s) I got:

Quora has a focus on making questions canonical and reusable; whereas my impression is that Yahoo Answers has a focus on getting answers for users who have asked questions.

Yahoo Answers asks a question-asker to choose a best answer to a question, which will then mark the question as resolved (which means no new answers are asked for.) On Quora, the person who added the question is de-emphasized and other users can edit the text of the question to make it better, and on Quora, the asker of the question isn’t necessarily expected to be the best judge of the answers given.
-(The) Charlie Cheever

Aside from obvious interface improvements, Quora, from what I understand, will utilize the endorsement system and topic selections to better channel questions to those who are both more interested and more knowledgeable to answer the question.
-Adam G.

However, I still had to ask the first part separately: “How active is the Quora Community?”As of now, I am still waiting for an answer. Very telling…

Quora on SEO

As of right now, you can add URLs to any of your descriptions, statuses and answers. All links are do-follow, but Quora is not indexable because everything is closed behind a login. When they open up to the general public, though, a lot of things could change.

Also, because it is a closed beta, there is no API available yet for third party apps, nor is there an RSS to subscribe to conversations. I expect all of this to change in the public version.

Say Goodbye to Forums

The future of Quora is bright. I think they have a great concept that will become essential to the overall social search experience. Eventually there will come a time when users still insist on asking questions on Google, you’ll just find Quora Answers in your Google search results.

I also think it will change the way we see forums today. If Quora plays its cards right, I can see this being the “go-to place” to ask any question on any topic and get a great response from “educated people.” Questions should get answers fast when it completely opens up, and you’ll probably still see some very specific and highly technical forums on larger company sites for nothing more than the option to be closed to the masses.

But, then again, even as I write this, Facebook announces that they’re going to introduce a Q&A section. Either way the forum is dead. 

Show Your Genius

For the self-promoting type– prepare for Nirvana!

If you’re on Quora, go ahead and look me up and shoot me a message. Also leave your thoughts on the system and tell me what you think.