What is Quora? The Greatest Review Site Ever.

You’re probably reading this because you’re a skeptical consumer of online content.  That’s a really good stance to take, and I stand with you – there’s a ton of crap out there, and a lot of people pitching every new site as the “next big thing in social media”.  So you’ve heard about Quora, but you’re wondering if there’s real value – and frankly, I’m writing this to try to convince you there is tremendous value. I have absolutely no affiliation with Quora.  I’m not employed by them, I’m not getting paid by them, and I don’t even know anyone that works there. However, Starterist is dedicated to telling the tale of small business, and frankly, it’d be an incomplete story without saying what a huge resource Quora is.  Let’s dive in:

What is Quora?

Quora is simply a Questions-and-Answers site with a voting system attached.  For whatever reason, this site has attracted big-time experts in numerous fields – so a lot of the people answering questions are the top in their industry.  The voting system keeps only the best answers visible so you aren’t seeing junky answers from people trying to self-promote or blow smoke.  Here’s a quick example:  Let’s say you have a brand new website and you’re trying to find the best way to drive traffic to your site.  You post a quick question on Quora:  ”I created the site www.studyflashcard.com. What can I do to get traffic for this site?”.  Who answers your question?  Jimmy Wales – the founder of Wikipedia!  Of course, other people answer your question as well, but Jimmy’s answer gets upvoted immediately as a result of his expertise. The voting system puts the best answers first.  In many ways, I think Quora is social media doing what it actually should – promoting great content, as opposed to great cat videos (though sometimes they’re one in the same).

What, Specifically, Can Quora Do For Me?

OK, so we all want real value for our time.  I think the key to immediate usefulness of Quora is not getting hung up on the fact that it’s a Q-and-A site.  In other words, don’t worry (yet) about asking questions on there, or answering other questions.  The site has tons of great content, and it’s really useful stuff.  Here are some ways I use Quora right now – and it has genuinely led me to save lots of money, learn great new things, and find interesting perspectives in life:

Find reviews on anything

Looking for great accounting software?  Blog platform?  A hosting service provider?  Lawyer?  Even a great new gadget?  There’s experts on here offering advice on all these topics.  Why, you ask, would you want the opinion of a few experts as opposed to a whole community?  Perhaps, like me, you find community reviews lacking.  When 500 people review software on Amazon, and 200 people say “Five stars!  It’s great!”, 100 people say “1 star – never buy it again!”, and the other 200 just say it’s average….well, I have no idea what to do with that info.  However, when an entrepreneur on Quora reviews accounting software they’ve used – or even better – an ex-employee of the software company in question (!) – you get a much more experienced and refined view.  In general I’ve found the reviews and recommendations people offer on Quora to be genuine and valuable.

Ferret out new products

Sometimes you’re tired of the same old solution to the same old problem, and wish you just knew of a better way to fix it.  Often times that better new product to fix your issue exists, but it’s from a less-well-known startup, so you wouldn’t hear about it for years.  With Quora, people often make off-the-wall recommendations that are worth checking out.  Example: I wanted to learn how to work with code (HTML, CSS, PHP, etc) – but every Google search and review site ended up with the same recommendations for learning schools.  They were either free, and too lightweight, or too expensive and felt like a college course.  I looked up some questions on Quora, and some experienced developers recommended Treehouse.  I’d never heard of it before, but gave it a try, and it was amazing – the best learning software I’ve used yet.

Learn a new perspective

One of my favorite emails to receive is the Quora Weekly Digest.  It has questions from other users that are specific to my interests, and I have always found some insightful gem that if nothing else was just amazing to read.  Some of my favorites are “How can I make my life simpler?“, “What is the best advice your father ever gave you?“, and “What is the most surprising or unexpected part of life post-prison?“.  Amazing stuff.

Contribute

Of course, if no one else has asked your burning question, ask it!  Are you an expert in some field?  Then start answering people’s questions!  I’ve noticed there’s a lot of experts on Quora in certain fields (software, social media), but not in others (accounting, medicine).

I think this type of forum is especially useful for small business and entrepreneurs – assistance from experts is generally difficult and expensive to acquire.  However, Quora allows you to gain insight from others in your exact same scenario, and listen to responses from seriously experienced professionals.  When it comes to your business, you should probably be listening to an expert like Jimmy Wales or a veteran software developer as opposed to 500 strangers on Amazon. Have fun, and good luck!

Want the inside track on my latest ultra-efficient business hacks and tips? Follow me on Twitter @DenODonnell – I share my favorite business content on Twitter, usually before I get to writing an article about it on Starterist!

Comments

  1. Pnina Dorchy says:

    This was very informative,and enlightening, Thank you for your review.

  2. Melanie B says:

    Hi Dennis,
    Thanks a million for an easy read and loaded with insight. I’m an online marketing student (about to graduate), former small business owner and still morphing into the online world of social sharing. I appreciate your review and totally agree with the developer recommendations you received: Treehouse is an excellent resource to learn code.

  3. Dennis O'Donnell says:

    Hi Melanie – thanks for sharing, really glad you enjoyed it! It’s interesting navigating the world of social sharing, and finding what’s essentially fluff, and what social sites truly add value. Quora definitely was in the latter group – I’m always looking to find others like it.

  4. Hi Dennis,
    Many thanks for this review. I just came across Quora and as you have said above, I wasn’t sure if it was fluff or good valise. I am just in the process of setting my own business up and going by your review I think Quora could be a great resource, for both answering my own questions and, hopefully, helping out others!

  5. Dennis O'Donnell says:

    Hi Mike –
    Thanks for the comment – I agree completely – it seems there’s a new social startup every week that is clamoring for our attention, and the first thing I can’t help but ask is: “Is this actually worth my time?” Really glad you’re finding some useful info here, and on Quora. I wouldn’t recommend it if I didn’t love using it.

  6. Jesper Bentzen says:

    Hi Dennis.

    If anyone on Quora would ask me for the BEST review to be able to really understand what Quora is about – I would recommend them to read YOUR review. Respect !

  7. Dennis O'Donnell says:

    Thanks, Jesper!

  8. Hi Dennis

    I found your review really helpful. I’m a digital publisher and fiction writer and have been asked to link into Quora by a fellow indie. Being both time poor and sceptical of yet another next best thing on social media for business use I was inclined to ditch the request, but your analysis has been given me enough of a balanced perspective to now dip a toe in the water and enhance my writer support networking. Many thanks.

  9. Dennis O'Donnell says:

    Glad to hear it was helpful! Best of luck on Quora.

  10. Hello Dennis,

    I didn’t know about Quora until a few days ago when I googled a question about a specific place in San Francisco. I found the site really useful and gets you what you’re looking for without wasting a lot of time.

    I am a web developer-designer and just for curiosity I searched which one is the best CMS to use with Twitter Bootstrap and to my surprise someone suggested my blog post as his answer. This was an amazing feeling!

  11. chuckiechan says:

    The problem is, if something goes wrong with your profile you and your account are locked out. There are no FAQ’s, nor any reason’s given just “You need to edit your account”, with no hint as to what to edit. Nada.

    They prefer true names, which is OK most of the time, but I don’t plan to risk my job by providing insight to Quora readers that are from an obvious insider because I didn’t check “anonymous”. I’m using my facebook name which is my true name if you must get technical. It works with my checking account.

    So I fixed my name, and I still have no idea what their problem is. But it was interesting, but without direction, while I was there, and many people appreciated my posts.

    So to management of Quora, you will never find out with is really wrong with they way government buys military electronics used in front line weapons systems.

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