What makes Quora Unique?

Currently, although we have different powerful search engines, people are not satisfied and they want more professional or direct answer. That’s why we have varies of Q & A system such as Yahoo! Answers (answers.yahoo.com), google answer, Askville(askville.amazon.com), Ask MetaFilter (ask.metafilter.com), AnswerBag (answerbag.com), WikiAnswers (wiki.answers.com) and Quora (quora.com).

The first and once largest of Q & A system, Yahoo Answers, however, had shrink a lot. In addition, the Google Answers service launched in 2001 was already shut down by 2006. Why is this the case? One of the prevailing opinions is that as sites grow, a vast number of low-value questions overwhelm the system and make it extremely difficult for users to find useful or interesting content. For example, ridiculous questions and answers are so prevalent on Yahoo Answers that a quick Google search for “Yahoo Answers Fail” turns up more than 8 million results, most of which are sites or blogs dedicated to documenting them. However, Quora just continues to grow.

Quora, as a newer website, just started its journey from Christmas 2010. The growth of Quora was so rapid that the site buckled under its exponential growth. Yahoo Answers, meanwhile, has been cruising along as the number one Q&A site on the web. But, according to Hitwise traffic numbers, it’s showing signs of slowing down. Hitwise says U.S. traffic to Yahoo! Answers dropped 23% between July and November (2011) and about 13% since November 2010. From the following figure 1 and figure 2 we can see Quora grew in an amazing speed but at the same time Yahoo! Answers dropped.

Figure1: Qurora grouth in 2010–2011 (cited from Marketing land)
Figure 2:Yahoo! Answer traffic ( (cited from Marketing land)

According to the data from the compete.com, Quora’s users still increase.

Figure 3: Quora passed year’s UV (from compete.com)

Why Quora can attract new users when there are lots of Q & A sites and it still could grow fast? We conclude that because Quora has several unique character compared to other Q & A sites.

(1) numbers of answers: In the WikiAnswers, you just have one answer to one question but the answer has been edited by several people.

(2) can always have a better answer: In Yahoo! Answers requires 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 deemphasized 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.

(3) answers should response for their answers. Quora users are expected to use their real identity when answering questions, where Yahoo Answers encourages usernames and avatars.

(4) control the quality of answer. Quoted from Quora: “Quora: Strong quality controls + an intelligent userbase, resulting in quality questions and answers. A true nexus of human knowledge. Yahoo Answers: A site where idiots can ask idiotic questions and get answers from other idiots. A scary indication of how badly our education system is failing our people.”

By marrying quality information sharing (in-depth answers) with social networking (following topics and people), Quora properly incentives both readers and producers of content to establish their identities on the website. You can also private message people on Quora to ask a question or propose an idea.

Figure 4: Traffic source comparison between Quora and Yahoo! Answers(cited from similarweb.com)
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