Is Quora a social networking website?

Originally Answered:

Is Quora becoming a social networking site?


There is ongoing debate as to whether Quora is a social networking site or not:

The debate is getting confused as to whether it has the tone of popular social networking sites or not. Because obviously (to me), a site where you have followers and comments and can interact with people with whom you have common interests is a social networking site. And Quora has had that functionality from the very beginning—though it tried to conceal it under the weird Credits (discontinued Quora feature) economy, and Adam D’Angelo is rumoured to have wanted to do away with comments.

The real question implicit there is whether Quora is being less than it should be, because of the increased emphasis by users on using Quora socially.

  • Well, if you ask me, the putative mission of Quora to share and grow the world’s knowledge is as vague as a mission statement should be, and certainly doesn’t preclude it being a social networking salon.
  • The thinking of D’Angelo & Cheever from 2010 that it should somehow displace Wikipedia and Google, as the go-to place for everyone on the interwebs to get information, was always laughable, and has been mercifully forgotten. That’s not the kind of focus that Quora should have had to begin with.
  • Quora has a good niche as an intellectual(ish), polite salon for discussion. That does not preclude pure knowledge seeking and factual succinct answers, but that’s not the Quora I’m primarily experiencing or enjoying. And as Yishan Wong once wisely said: Quora is a great place to answer questions, but not a great place to get your own question answered.
  • As Laura Hale has abundantly documented, the way Quora is used in India is much closer to conventional social networking, and this has led to any number of clashes between Indian users and non-Indian users.
  • There’s a lot more users, and a lot more banter, and a lot more selfies on Quora than there were in 2010. So there’s more frivolity.
    • Then again, Quora in 2010 was a bunch of geeks talking about startups. Yawn. I seek intellectual exchange in the humanities on Quora (as well as banter); I’m far likelier to get it now than back then.

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