I can see that a service like Quora could have great value to some. I was excited about it when I first joined. That flame burned bright and briefly.
While I find the piling-on behavior I noticed in the supposed Quora backlash beyond silly, I can constructively discuss why my own brief flurry of activity on Quora stalled.
I'm Busy and Quora Requires Focused Attention
Quora has every potential to be highly addictive. That might be fine if the day job wasn't as demanding as it is and FlourishConf wasn't just around the corner. Also, my wife and child like to see me every so often and my in-laws expect more regular updates to Cachacagora, which I regrettably haven't updated in the new year. Thus, exploring Quora in depth was very easy to push down the task list.
It's also something that can't really be done in the same motion as my routine online activities, like Hootsuite allows me to do with Twitter and Facebook. I don't have to think about those services when I'm, say, reading an article. Just click the bookmarklet, check off some boxes, and away I go. Quora seems to want more than that from me. Would be great if I had time. No 'ffense.
My Advice Has Value
A couple of years ago at a conference, I was onstage discussing strategies for employee education and social media transformation. I playfully said that much of the approach was Edelman-proprietary and had to stay with me, though there were nevertheless plenty of items to fuel a rich discussion. One person in the audience tut-tutted that it "wasn't very Cluetrain" of me to do that. Whatever. That I continue to be held over that particular barrel even after contributing as much as do is something I regard as simply one of life's insoluble quandaries. But I digress...
My point: When I speak in public or otherwise engage in PR consortia, I have to make sure that 1) certain Edelman processes and IP are protected, and 2) the act of satisfying #1 doesn't result in a presentation that is only of limited value to an audience that paid to receive insights. On Quora, I found myself skipping over the potentially meaty questions and giving okay answers to okay questions.
Misapplication of Authority and Expertise Concepts
Robert Scoble is an expert at a great many things and, in a lot of ways, I admire what he's done in terms of raising industry consciousness around the value of online community engagement. That said, he is not a PR expert. As of this writing, however, he's a featured question-answerer in Quora's "Public Relations" category, perhaps owing to authority he's racked up regarding other topics.
Now, you don't have to be an expert to have an opinion about a topic—just ask me about my state's income-tax hike—but it does help if you presume to answer a question about that topic in a forum that claims to prize expertise.
FAQ: "Finally? Ask Question?"
PR folks are used to crafting FAQ or "frequently asked questions" documents. Sometimes they are exactly that: a list of questions that a organization is used to hearing for which it has ready answers. Just as often, however, the FAQ is written prior to a launch or announcement. In other words, most of the questions haven't been asked at all, let alone frequently. (I call these "Fairly Anticipated Questions.") Most of the time, FAQ documents list the questions that a company wants to be asked. (Or, as I like to say, "Finally? Ask question?")
Quora strikes me as full of gimme-questions. Seems that a lot get ignored, which is a good thing, but such posts are a bit off-putting.
If I had a client with such interests, it would be intriguing to explore whether a technical marketing or recruiting effort could be executed on Quora, where a series of contributions from a rockstar engineer inspires young technical types to say "I must work with this guy!"
Just spitballing at this point. Will explore more when I'm able to go up-periscope.
Photo credit: WingedWolf