Questions and answers.

Source: Google ImagesThis past week I discovered the magic of Quora. I had been hearing a lot about the site recently so I decided to sign up and see what it was all about... and now I’m addicted. Although the site has been around for over a year now, the user base only started to take off in the last few months of 2010 and now has close to 400,000 users.

The primary idea behind the site is a simple one, ask a question... get an answer. As we all know from school, there is no such thing as a silly question. The same holds true for Quora. Here are a few examples of questions that I have seen:

  • When will Google TV be supported in Canada?
  • What is the best and fastest way to make 1 dollar online?
  • What are some good examples of brands using Foursquare?
  • Where is the future of mobile advertising heading?  

You will notice these questions are centered around certain topics and that’s because Quora allows you to follow topics that interest you (similar to how Twitter allows you to follow people who interest you). Here are three reasons why you should join Quora right now (by the way, I don’t work for the company or anything, I just really really like the service and the idea behind the site):

  1. The user base - One thing that truly fascinates me about Quora is the kinds of people who answer various questions. Someone may ask a question about why Facebook does something a certain way and then an actual employee of Facebook will answer the question. You literally get answers straight from the horse’s mouth. There are some truly influential people on Quora right now including: Kevin Rose, Dennis Crowley, Amber Mac, Leo Laporte, Dave Knox, Mitch Joel, Robert Scoble, Pete Blackshaw and Evan Williams.
  2. The community votes - A feature of Quora that I find very interesting is that users have the ability to vote answers up or down. Users also have the ability to thank others for certain answers, leave comments and even vote answers as not helpful. These features ensure that the answers you see are typically the best answers for any given question. All Quora needs now is a voiceover of Jeff Probst saying, “the tribe has spoken,” every time someone’s answer gets voted on.
  3. A customized experience - Just like Twitter, Quora allows you to follow people and follow topics that interest you. What this allows for is a completely customized experience on your home page. The feed on your home page only contains questions that are relevant to you and this is a feature that a lot of great social networking sites have in common.

Final thoughts: If you are already on Quora or if this post has inspired you to join Quora, my one piece of advice when using the service is to be real. Authenticity is what makes this site amazing and it will be the driving force that sustains this site. You don’t have to necessarily try and answer a whole lot of questions because in many cases, that would have already been done for you. All you have to do is read and be enlightened. Let me leave you with a quote from a cool cat named Jimi Hendrix, “Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.