What are the biggest challenges that Quora faces over the next couple of years?

  • Monetisation
  • Maintaining quality of contributions

Not placating those who think moderation or the UX sucks. Quora has gotten away with not prioritising that, because there’s always more users queuing up to join, and people (particularly more passive users, or more invested power users) are prepared to put up with a lot.

But online communities do tend to run out of steam after a while, and you have to find ways to keep contributors motivated and challenged. People do burn out, and people do leave in a huff, and you might want to check whether the outflow does start exceeding the inflow, either in numbers or in quality.

You also want to ensure that the contributors are still challenged to write content people feel like reading. A lot of people here decry the increase in stupid questions or gossipy content. That’s valid, and an unavoidable consequence of growth. But I for one have no desire to go back to the Quora of 2010, and I’m glad I wasn’t around for it: a site where there were no Survey Questions, no Humanities, every question was about Startups, and every user was from Silicon Valley? Pass. The growth in participation, subject matter, and yes, sociability has been a good thing. It has brought eyeballs. Quora has an ongoing challenge to keep eyeballs…

… Because Quora has to monetise; it can’t stay a Facebook alum vanity project forever. The VCs will go for the next shiny object; Quora has to find a way to keep advertisers’ interest. That means eyeballs. And yes, that means a certain amount of clickbait (which we have already), but it also means a certain amount of good authoritative content, which keeps the lucrative demographics around; and yes, it means acquiescing to the social use of Quora, which for advertisers is a feature not a bug.

Sell out, I hear you say? Suits me. A Quora pure to what it was started out as in 2010 is not a Quora I’d have invested in. It’s grown, in occasionally unexpected directions. That’s a good thing. Sometimes the market does produce good outcomes, after all.

The push this year looks to be internationalisation, if Quora is queuing up fr.quora, de.quora, and it.quora. (No hi.quora or zh.quora, I see. Hm.) I just hope internationalisation is married up to monetisation somewhere in the plan…

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