Is Quora the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years?

I’ve now been blogging for 10 years. Looking back we haven’t seen all that much innovation for bloggers. You have a box. You type in it. Put an image into it. And hit publish. That’s much the same as the tools I had 10 years ago.

But now comes Quora.

I’m really loving it. I have a hard time explaining why. I’m not the only one, either.

@Scobleizer I believe @quora is the future of blogging.less than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone

VC Shervin Pishevar says “I believe @Quora is the future of blogging.”


So what’s going on there?

First, look at the Quora items I’ve been participating in. This is a lot like a blog. But it’s not Dave Winer’s blog style. It’s any question I’ve followed, written in, voted up, etc.

So, what is the innovation here?

First, it learned from Twitter. Ask your users a question and they’ll answer it.

Second, they learned from Facebook. Build a news feed that brings new items to you.

Third, they learned from the best social networks. You follow people you like. But then they twisted it. You can follow topics. Or you can follow questions in addition to following people. This is great for new users who might not know anyone. They can follow topics.

Fourth, they learned from blogs about how to do great SEO. I’ve started seeing Quora show up on Google.

Fifth, they learned from FriendFeed, Digg, and other systems that let you vote up things. If you watch a question that has a lot of engagement you’ll even see votes roll in live. It’s very addictive.

Sixth, they brought the live “engagement display” that Google Wave had: it shows who is answering a question WHILE they are answering it.

Seventh, it has a great search engine for you to find things you are interested in.

Anyway, I find that there’s something addictive about participating over there instead of here on my blog. Why? Because when you see people voting up your answers or adding their own replies in real time it makes you realize there’s a good group of people reading your stuff. I don’t get that immediate rush here (here I have to wait for comments to show up, which isn’t nearly as immediate).

I notice that the same thing has me very excited about Instagram, too. When I look at other people’s photos I can see lots of people liking them and commenting on them in real time.

Will Quora kill blogging? No. Blogging has a business model for publishers that Quora does not provide yet (I don’t care about the business model so I’m free to go where the innovations are happening).

Thanks Quora for providing a great community and way for people to communicate about what’s interesting in their lives in a new way. That’s innovation in blogging.

By the way, even pro bloggers are using Quora. Today Techcrunch used Quora to find and report on Flickr in a new way (that isn’t the first time they’ve done that, either).

UPDATE: Mark Suster, VC, explains why he thinks Quora is significant.


  1. Quora has the social plugins done right … in this modern age and times, we already are engaging with the people that matter to us on FB and Twitter, and Quora knows that. So it doesn’t build your network ground up. The underlying assumption isn’t you are just emerging from under a rock! When I signed up, within 15mins, I had a healthy network of people I was engaged with. Awesome user experience!

    1. More confusion, that’s how I see them, completely irrelevant for blogging. It’s not innovation but emulation of certain ideas floating on the Web for 10 years. So, again, nothing that moves me

  2. Quora is my new favorite service. It promotes a type of conversation that cannot take place on Twitter and an environment for idea sharing that is much more focused than the fb stream. I think Quora will in some cases act as a source of idea generation for bloggers and authors since it provides a place to have a brainstorming session with people from around the world.

  3. I’m not very familiar with Quora yet. It appears to also be influenced by earlier attempts like Yahoo Answers and Amazon’s Answerville

    Maybe it or something like it will finally recapture the community participation flavor of USENET without too much useless “presentation layer” baggage.

  4. Quora is one of many platforms in the ‘structured blogging’ space right now. See foursquare, twitter, tumblr, and for my own personal bias: kommons.

  5. I enjoy Quora as well, although they could do a better job of surfacing the interesting conversations. Most recent != most talked about

  6. Robert- Like you, I have seen the great value behind Quora. I have recently followed and participated in extremely valuable discussions on it with some of the best minds dissecting and slicing a given subject from all angles. Some of these discussions have had the same vibrancy as an post where you’re guaranteed to learn from the comments often more than the post itself.

    But lately, I have also seen some self-serving discussions emerge, where the instigator poses a question with an ulterior motive to benefit the company they work for or promote. What Quora needs now is a self-cleansing system of earning “trust points” that let you do more or give you more credence. I’d like to see a specific points system on Quora at the user-level. They have the data, but haven’t rolled it up at the user-level.

    In hindsight, Quora is very much like Stackoverflow who sees themselves as an intersection of blog, wiki, digg & forum- all in one. Stackoverflow has at least 3 times the user traffic as Quora and they are an essential resource to any technical person. I don’t see enough comparisons being made between Stackoverflow and Quora. Quora can grow to be much bigger than Stackoverflow if they play their evolution right.

    1. I too agree with the comparison of Quora and StackOverflow. But I have still yet to appreciate Quora. I find it’s interface very confusing and I don’t feel compelled to visit frequently whereas as visit one of the StackExchange sites many times a day.

      I wish I could figure out what about Quora has everyone else enthralled because it just doesn’t grab me…

    2. I’d go further and say this entire post is useless without a comparison of Stackoverflow/StackExchange. It’s the dominant player in this space, how could it not be mentioned?

  7. I think it’s more useful as a source of inspiration and a place to brainstorm. I don’t think it’ll take off as a blogspace. As I’m not a SF entrepreneur or a VC I don’t feel I have a voice on Quora. It lends itself well to knowledgeable heads, but not ordinary folk.

  8. Just signed up for Quora (using my Twitter account as usual). This looks like it’s may very well prove quite useful. It complement not just one’s blogging, but Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well.

    Let the learning curve begin — again…

  9. Just signed up for Quora (using my Twitter account as usual). This looks like it’s may very well prove quite useful. It complement not just one’s blogging, but Twitter, Facebook, etc. as well.

    Let the learning curve begin — again…

  10. I’m a full-blown Quora addict and find many compelling things about the service, easily making it for me the best thing on the Web in the last couple of years. The UI, the UX, the quality of the community, the real-time updates — I love many facets of Quora that previous commenters have already pointed to. As Robert correctly points out, the Quora team has integrated some of the best concepts and features from all over the Web, and woven together something super sticky (at least for certain personality types). Even if you’re not an active answerer of questions, Quora just makes for terrifically entertaining reading — and in that respect it also resembled blogs. I sincerely hope they find a sustainable business model and that the general civility that prevails there now doesn’t get too watered down as the user base expands beyond early adopters.

  11. quora is great and useful to generate new ideas but it will not replace blogging because sometimes you want to share without asking a question or start a conversation ( more like an essay) ….

  12. I keep trying but I don’t get Quora yet. I even like talking tech and startups and silly valley, I like news sites like TechMeme, and I like question sites like, and yet I’m just not warming up to Quora — I’ve tried a bunch of times and I just can’t seem to find questions that are interesting to me. Is there anything there besides the insular silicon valley/web startup conversation?

  13. Just the fact that I’m able to get answers from some of the industry leaders and practitioners (unlike thoerists : please forget the grammar!) itself is worth enough to make Quora one of the most dependable medium of communication. Quora may not be exactly same like blogging where I write first and wait for comments, but it’s almost like blogging where each of my thoughts (or comments) are read, commented and rated…

  14. How come I got a record number of quora followers tonite? Did anything happen (except U writing this?;) )?

    I have seen some col stuff on Quora, but up to now it has failed to becaome a ‘daily stop’. and I guess to really win big a site has to become this. (And is there an app? :) )

  15. I read that on twitter when you(?) retweeted it.

    If I could self host open source Quora code, I’d have done so as another tab on my blog. But until then, it’s just another (really high quality) Q&A site. Their model like StackOverflow’s is one that draws time and resources from many, and will likely have to sell it back in the future.

    I prefer information systems with minimal community attention tax. And it’s hard to beat distributed and open networks in that regard.

    Look forward to the WordPress like Q&A system.

    1. I agree with you on 1 point, but not the other, Mark. The essence of Quora is user-generated content, and that seems to be a model that VC’s are favoring now- i.e. large networks of engaged users generating their own content. But I share your skepticism about the eventual revenue model whether or not it gets acquired.
      Stackoverflow is certainly the gold standard in this segment, although the novelty that Quora brought in is the non-technical nature of discussions. Although technical people have a history of collaborating and helping each other on specific issues, business people don’t generally share their issues outside of their company boundaries so openly, but that would be a good thing if more is done that way.

      1. Points taken William. And we’re discussing Quora on Disqus another platform that’s centrally run. I enjoy Disqus open nature with comments though, I get to access them via the wordpress blog, or Disqus interface. It’s that sharing data model which engenders widespread trust.

      2. Points taken William. And we’re discussing Quora on Disqus another platform that’s centrally run. I enjoy Disqus open nature with comments though, I get to access them via the wordpress blog, or Disqus interface. It’s that sharing data model which engenders widespread trust.

        1. You’re right that there’s a need for an additional integration on-ramp to a WordPress blog or something else,- perhaps via Zemanta Related. Or even a Quora widget displaying a user’s discussion headlines that can be inserted on their blog.

          1. Widgetisation of Quora might accelerate it’s spread although anecdotally I’ve noticed lots of arrivees lately. You can now obtain RSS for profile pages, topic pages and topic best questions and place those into your blog/sidebar should you wish. How? add /rss to the URL

    2. A counter opinion on a shared resource. I contribute time to WordPress Answers in the StackOverflow network because it enables me to get my writing seen with far less effort than if I were to write a blog. And people will vote up answers on StackOverflow so it’s easier to see if people appreciate the value of my efforts than having to respond to a large comment stream. But as my dad says “To each his own.”

  16. Hello Christophe, Thanks for letting me know about Quora. I am about to choose a blogging tool/platform for myself/ Raz*War. ( Maybe Quora is the good tool? I am not sure when I am considering the other comments. Given the fact that Raz*War is really a “social R&D” brand, do you think Quora can bring something? I am waiting for your comments (And If others have an opinion, please express it :-)) (What I would like is blogging tool/simply to use and that allows me -via or for to obtain feed-back from community). Advise sought…

  17. Robert – Your piece might explain why I’m getting more Quora follows in the past 2 days than I have in the past 8 weeks ?! I’m just a fly on the wall there … but love it.

  18. Robert – Your piece might explain why I’m getting more Quora follows in the past 2 days than I have in the past 8 weeks ?! I’m just a fly on the wall there … but love it.

  19. I find Quora interesting, but I would not rate it as an “innovation” as such. Quora has built upon several things to come up with an interesting product, it has a lot of everything in it.

    For quite a few years, there has been Yahoo Answers, and that product drives a huge organic traffic to Yahoo as it always has high SERPs. Yahoo Answers also had a social angle and points-based reward system which provided an incentive to users to answer, also many users use Yahoo Answers as a way to drive traffic to their own websites.

    Coming back to Quora, the quality of people answering questions is way higher than what you would see on Yahoo Answers, the questions too are quite good in quality. The reason Quora works is because there is a huge amount of people who have time and passion to answer questions.

    Like I would go down to Quora and see what questions are out there and probably spend 5-10 minutes answering it in detail. This is something I don’t do everyday. Of course you might do it differently, but that is your perspective. I have seen your opinions about things in the past too, you are more biased towards how you use a product verses how others use it, of course you might have 1% of the market who do things like you do.

    Once again Quora is a very good product, but I stick with my opinion that it is not an innovation.

    1. Additionally, what I like about it is the fact that the Quora team is silently monitoring content and people in the background.
      When I first signed up anonymously, the Quora team quickly contacted me asking to use my name and not a pseudonym. I think that is good, because it becomes easier to verify the source and authority of the content.

  20. Following conversations on twitter is an oxymoron, while Facebook is full of App-Spam. I look forward to a quality service to challenge the TwitFace empire.

  21. While I agree with all the innovation that you are talking about, would not call it a blogging platform.

    I think it is more of a “Behind The Scenes” module of a blogging platform. See how TechCrunch used Quora for the Flickr story. Have seen a lot of bloggers writing blog posts based on their discussions on Quora. It could be a part of the blogging platform as a brain-storming tool. It can let the blogger trigger a conversation, get different point of views and then summarize them and add his/her perspective to the blog post.

    Just imagine how it would be if you could have a conventional blog on Quora as well and reference Quora questions/answers and write a blog post with references to how it developed…

  22. I’m addicted to it. There are only a handful of sites that I normally participate in and with this one being filled with some very like minded people I have been able to take away many handfuls of useful business tactics and marketing strategies.

    In fact, this is the first time I’ve been on the Scobleizer’s webpage and it’s only because I found some of Robert’s answers on Quora and was curious to see what his blog was all about.

  23. Quora’s UX is too damn complicated. The FTUE makes you feel stupid. No service should make new users feel stupid, ESPECIALLY not a Q&A service. It feels like it was designed by Google, which may be why Google is so ga-ga over it. If the bad UX gets addressed, then the service could become mainstream and possibly addictive.

  24. Sorry roberto but I don’t see the unicorn dust coming from Quora’s hind. Feels like twitter a few years ago before the Spam came to dominate. Just a matter of time till this gets overrun by the marketers. is there verification that the ‘expert’ is verified?