I’ve always been quite a fan of the “question and answer,” platform online. It interests me both in a general internet marketing context and also from a user perspective. The ability to share knowledge online and actually communicate directly with experts from various fields from all over the world is incredible on any level.

That’s why I was, in the early days, a bit of a Yahoo Answers fan. However, I started to find the quality of many of the answers (and the questions too) quite poor as time went on. Enter Quora.com. Dubbed, by some as “the new Yahoo Answers,” the site is growing at a rapid pace. 3.5 million indexed pages in Google in January, 5.9 million at the start of February and, as of today, 6.5 million.

But it’s not the new, ‘Yahoo Answers.’ Not in my opinion anyway. It’s like a higher quality Experts Exchange meets a much higher quality Yahoo Answers and somewhere along the line meets Twitter too.

But what makes this platform different?

User Editing

Think an answer is spammy or low quality? Fine – you can edit it or vote it down. In fact you can edit questions or answers for spelling, grammar, wording or structure. This has given rise to an almost “perfectionist” community, who, for the most part, are seeking to deliver the highest quality answers and generate good solid debate. The higher your user rating (based on previous positive votes from other users and similar) the more your own votes count and the higher up your answers show.

Following Relevant Users and Topics

In a somewhat Twitter-like fashion, you can elect to follow both other users and topic areas that you’re interested in. You will see, on your Quora home screen, the questions that have recently been asked and answered by the people you follow and, in addition, the most recent questions elected to the topics you follow. This gives you instant access to the types of questions YOU want. In addition, this is proving an effective social networking mechanism. It’s somewhere between a purely social network and professional one in some ways – sitting somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn, perhaps.

Integration with Established Social Networks

When you go to sign up to Quora, you have the option to sign up through Facebook or through Twitter. Signing up through Twitter, for example, enables you to follow all of the people you follow on Twitter who have linked Quora profiles. You can also share your questions, answers and profile link with your friends and followers on both Facebook and Twitter. So the platform is by no means attempting to take the place of either of these ready established sites. Instead it is bringing something new to the table and encouraging people to  make this an addition to their social networking activity.

So Quora is definitely different to other platforms out there and I am keenly taking part in answering and asking questions on the site. I’ve learned a lot in the few weeks I have been using and have encountered some very knowledgeable people. In addition, there is the potential online reputation management benefit to be had. Quora profiles, when you are active, tend to rank well for your name or your company name and it gives you an opportunity to establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise.

Not on it yet? Give it a go!

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