What would happen if comments feature in Quora was removed and all existing comments simply vanished into thin air?

So what would happen if hypothetically an announcement came out that started like this?


Rory Devin

Here at Quora, our mission is to share and grow the world’s knowledge. Today, we’re excited to announce a new enhancement to your reading experience.

Seven years ago we introduced Comments (Quora feature) in beta, to explore new ways for readers to provide feedback to writers. We learned a lot from this beta, and are excited by the content and ways that comments were used.

At Quora, we’ve been excited to rethink the comment experience for a few reasons. Comments are a great resource, but they can become a vector for debate and abuse. If you’ve been on other websites, comments sections can sometimes become a pretty toxic place. It’s important for us to avoid that outcome as the community continues to grow rapidly, and we’re excited to be taking proactive measures to make sure Quora stays a safe and civil place.

In fact, I’ve discussed this question with others, and I’m still looking forward to their answers as to how this would change the content of answers themselves. I’ll limit myself to the obvious social consequences of such a move.

  • There would likely be an exodus of the more socialising subgroups of Quora users. (The Cats and many Dolphins, in my taxonomy: Quora Compass by Nick Nicholas on The Insurgency.) Teen Quoran numbers in particular would nosedive. Writing answers about being locked in a room with a bunch of unanswerable questions just wouldn’t have the same appeal.
    • It is not a value judgement to say that that subgroup of users is not the strategic focus of the company.
  • A small number of Quora users (all Dogs in my taxonomy) would feel vindicated by the decision, would defend it to the hilt, and would be abominably smug about it.
  • A number of users (Bees, some Dolphins, fewer Dogs) would be troubled by the decision, would point out why it is a bad idea, and would protest it. Those protests would take place both on Quora, and on the Facebook groups. A response from Quora itself would be extremely unlikely on any forum.
  • There would be less for moderation to do, whether they are robots, hypothetical contractors, or employees. Nowhere near 0, but certainly less.
  • The passive users, who are Quora’s major source of eyeballs, would be undiminished. They don’t come to Quora for the comments.
  • Some expert users would be troubled enough to leave. I think many people would be surprised how low that number would be.
    • I hereby undertake that I would be one of those users.
    • Any such exodus would not impact Quora’s bottom line, even if they all did delete their content and posted it elsewhere (which is the only way Quora’s bottom line could be impacted.) As I myself believe Quora’s approach to user management has demonstrated, writers are fungible.
  • Most expert users would stay, and adjust. As I said, the question of how the content would adjust is a fascinating one, that I’d like others to address.

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