Is Quora necessary?

Since the start of December I've been seeing the odd tweet here and there about Quora (I'm hazarding you pronounce it "Kwor-ra" but let me know if you know otherwise!), but two days ago it hit the big time in the Twittersphere and I finally decided to sign up.

Dubious of the likes of Yahoo! Answers and Facebook Questions (Yahoo! Answers often has low quality answers and Facebook Questions hasn't been rolled out to everyone yet, but it's likely it may suffer the same sort of "quality" issue with Facebook being a mass market social network service), Quora seems like it could be a winner.

Described as "a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it", Quora, like Facebook Questions, allows users to vote up answers to questions that they found helpful.

It sounds great in practice, but only if the boundaries of Quora are firmly established. Is it a factual hub or an opinion hub? Or, could it be both? There are questions that are factual, such as Where was Jim Carrey born? but at the same time there are definitely subjective questions getting asked, like What is your favourite Jim Carrey film? Is there a place for both of these question types on Quora or will this make it too much?

At the moment, it seems that there isn't a definition of what sort of Q&A platform Quora is. It's impossible to achieve everything on one site so there has to be a limit. Would it be better for the user to ask for people's favourite Jim Carrey film on a film community like IMDB, or a Jim Carrey Facebook fan page, or maybe just by tweeting their followers? Was it really necessary to ask it on Quora? I think not. Within 3 minutes of me tweeting the favourite film question, 6 of my followers had replied. That's pretty quick, and much quicker than it would take someone to search out the question on Quora and answer it. (Only 3 people have answered out of the12 people who viewed the question - Twitter certainly allows a more immediate response).

The definition of Quora will be key, I think, in ensuring that it isn't a fad, so it can cement itself as a bona fide resource. Of course, it already has Wikipedia to compete with, which is already established and has a higher standard of editorial control. In fact, when I did a Let me Google that for you (couldn't resist) on "Where was Jim Carrey born?" the top result was, of course, Wikipedia:

Click to make it bigger!

(Jim Carrey was born in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, if you're curious, and my favourite film of his is The Truman Show.)

Then, there's also the issue of who you are with Quora. One thing that is differentiating it at the moment from the likes of Yahoo! Answers is that the people who are answering and asking the questions are, largely, in the know-how - I'm seeing the likes of "tech journalist", "community manager", "writer at Techcrunch" and "PR Director" as the job titles.
But, isn't it inevitable that a strong cohort of people from the world of tech/digital/marketing/PR/comms will lead to bias and, well, bullshit? I wonder, especially with questions such as Who are the genuine thought leaders within the UK PR industry? Surely this sort of question is better as a discussion topic as it's so subjective? Doesn't this make Quora a forum, rather than a definitive Q&A platform? And if it's not a definitive Q&A platform, then isn't it just another Yahoo! Answers or Facebook Questions that will get over-ruled by subjectivity?

It's hard to say what the verdict is on Quora, largely because it's still developing. Whereas I found the fizz of pleasure quite nice when someone thanked me for answering their question, there is a limit to what I know, and therefore a limit in what I can answer. And if I don't know something, the likelihood is I'll first turn to firing out a quick tweet, before asking Google. I'm yet to be convinced that Quora is necessary enough that it will still be prominent this time next year.

Have you jumped on the Quora bandwagon? What are your thoughts?

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