Clarissa Lohr: Why German and Italian?

Originally… .

Clarissa Lohr:

I’ve wondered why Quora picked German and Italian, of all languages, to internationalize, because they aren’t spoken by that many people (compared to, say, languages like Arabic), and particularly Quora in German doesn’t make sense going from how many active users it could reach:

  • The target demographic of active Quora users who contribute content are educated, curious, internationally-minded netizens who don’t mind wasting their time on the internet.
  • While it’s true that not all native German speakers speak English, the subset of native German speakers that fit the above criteria does generally have advanced English skills. Educated, curious, internationally-minded internet-savy people in D-A-CH countries do speak English.
  • So in terms of active contributors, Quora in German can’t reach many more people than Quora in English.

But after I read Scott Welch’s answer about Quora’s strategy, it all made sense.

  • Quora doesn’t care so much about active contributors, Quora cares about views and about showing up in Google search results.
  • That means the target demographic is not educated, internationally-minded people who spend a lot of time on the internet – the target demographic is everyone who uses Google once in a while.
  • This target demographic is much broader. As good as everyone uses Google once in a while, even people who wouldn’t want to spend much time on Quora and really contribute content. It includes German speakers who don’t speak English.
  • German speakers usually phrase their Google queries in German. Including people who speak English. It’s one thing to resort to English in order to write something if you already know about Quora and want to participate in it and it’s not available in German. It’s another thing to Google a question if you don’t know about Quora in first place. People who might be okay with writing in English because the Quora rules say so still won’t find Quora in English in first place because their Google searches won’t direct them to Quora in English.
  • That means that for Quora it’s essential to have questions that match German search queries out there on the internet. And maybe it doesn’t even necessarily need good answers in German, because the link to the same question in English is available, and if people’s passive English skills are okayish they might be okay with just following the link to the English question and read answers in English. That means that maybe Quora can benefit if the translation bots just translate the most-googled questions from English into German, and the entire purpose is directing people to Quora in English, because German speakers won’t find Quora in English as long as the questions exist only in English.
  • D-A-CH countries have a strong economy and are a good target for advertising.

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