I’ll start by snarking that the culture Thomas L. Johnson describes sounds pretty nightmarish to me. But then again, for a very long time I refused to follow anyone with more than 1k followers.
The striking thing, reflecting after over a year of being a social butterfly here, is that there is no one culture on Quora. There are several quite distinct cultures going on, and they don’t intersect that much. The Indian Quora and the American Quora work very differently. The Discord teens’ Quora has different norms from the old growth Top Writers’ Quora — although the high school comparison has been raised more than once. Technical questions and political questions get very different engagement.
So there are clearly community norms, and even more clearly norms that Quora Inc seeks to inculcate through moderation and UX and consent. (Yes, I have been reading Gramsci.) But I would caution against regarding them as universally practiced. Or against assuming that old growth Top Writers are somehow more representative of Quora culture than Discord teens, say, or Americans more than Indians.
Are there commonalities? I think so.
- I think the spirit of BNBR is widely respected. Yes, there are trolls, but there is far, far less flaming here than elsewhere. The letter of BNBR, its implementation by moderation, is more contentious.
- There is an appreciation of good writing and good expertise. Other aspects, such as banter or clickbait, are again more contentious.
- Upvoting and following practice varies, but there seems to be a baseline of courtesy to the group, and quite often clustering of friends and users with common interests.
- Yes, there are also Quora Superstars, although I don’t think they are any universal Quora Superstars. I have no interest in any of the top 15 writers, for instance.
- There is a culture of helping new users and each other, which the lack of onboarding makes essential. It is exemplified by blogs where users offer to help rewrite questions or upvote collapsed answers. But it is not clear to me whether this is a universal culture.
But again, these days I see many more differences than similarities. Whether Quora is social media; whether the Company enables or hampers; the value of comments; the validity of homework questions or survey questions. I don’t see consensus around these, and I don’t see a unified culture around these.