“The genius of these companies is that their users do most of the work and create most of the value; once the ball is rolling, it’s the users who keep pushing it along.”
That line is from a recent James Surowiecki piece in the New Yorker. He may have been writing about Groupon, but in the following paragraph describing the brilliance of the common model behind Facebook and Twitter, Surowiecki also explained why Quora is suddenly generating so much buzz.
“Most of the companies that have transformed the Web have certain things in common. They have distinctive technologies. They benefit from what are usually called network effects: the more people who use the service, the more valuable the service becomes. (You’re more likely to use Facebook or Twitter when lots of your friends have signed up, and the more people there are who use Google the more accurate its searches become.) Most important, they scale easily, meaning that they can grow very big without much additional effort.”
Unless you’ve been hibernating, you know that the new question-and-answer site co-founded by two early Facebook employees, Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever, is the flavor of the day, week, month. Sign-ups are accelerating. Twitter is aflutter with links to answers – a brilliantly simple way to call attention to your answers, which promotes the site, builds your visibility, and, if your answer is any good, adds to your own personal reputation. And users aren’t just using, they’re blogging about using. Talk about getting the users to do all the work.
Right now Quora is at that weird moment when it’s popular enough for all the digerati and early social adopters to be there, yet young enough that people don’t totally get it. Then again, whatever there is to get is still TBD, for if Quora is to grow, prosper and survive, not only will users do the work of building it, they’ll also define what it can become, perhaps taking it beyond anyone’s initial thinking.
Will it be more a place to ask questions and find answers that are genuinely helpful? Or more a place to answer questions, perhaps helping discover new clients, expand your following, even secure speaking gigs.
Are you on Quora? What do you think?