Does Quora need a clearly presented time/date stamp on the original questions?

Quora Users might. Quora does not. And once again, we need to get out of the pernicious habit of thinking that the needs of the two coincide, and that Quora has any interest in making life easier for its writers, at the expense of its own goals.

Yes, yes, Hanlon’s razor, but humour me. It’s an interesting intellectual exercise.

Quora believes questions on Quora need to be general and universal, and increasingly: evergreen.

It’s an interesting exercise, searching for the word evergreen on Quora. When writers use the word evergreen, they tend to use it negatively. To them, this is yet another instance of the same goddamn question, which they are bored of answering, and it’s dumb anyway.

Now Quora agrees that there shouldn’t be multiple instances of the same goddamn question. Which is why none of you have question details any more. Be careful what you wish for.

But Quora doesn’t care what its writers are bored of answering. Because people on Google aren’t bored of doing the same searches: there’s a lot more of them, they’re not as smart (on average) or as jaded as Quora writers, and there’s a lot more churn among them. And those eyeballs from people on Google, asking inane repetitions of the same question, are what bring in glorious, lovely, monetisable eyeballs for advertisers.

(Top Writers don’t get to watch ads. That doesn’t make them privileged stakeholders. That makes them loss-leaders.)

To Quora, evergreen isn’t a bug. It’s a feature. A feature that will make them a motza. A feature that they are already telling advertisers will make them a motza:

Why brands should be writing on Quora by Alecia Li Morgan on Quora for Business

SEO and Evergreen Content: Quora content is searchable through Google and usually ranks high on the search engine. Quora answers can reach millions of people who are searching for an answer to a particular question. And answers on Quora don’t disappear or lose momentum after a few minutes or days. They’re evergreen, continuing to garner views, upvotes, comments, and shares beyond the normal lifespan of a post on other platforms, and lasting years in the internet spotlight. When building a content strategy for your business or simply for yourself as a thought leader, Quora should be at the top of your list.

[Her emphasis, not mine.]

… And here you were, thinking you were helping democratise knowledge.

(Maybe you’re doing that too; humans can do doublethink.)

So. If you’re Quora UX, you are a bumbling nincompoop from the perspective of the writers. But we’ve seen that UX doesn’t need to make writers happy at all (and they couldn’t make them less happy if they tried), because they’re about the readers:

Designing Your Own Metrics by Jackson Mohsenin on Quora Design

if Bios weren’t accurately representing an author’s relationship to a question, and we just work on getting more and more of them, it could lead to readers seeing many unhelpful bios on Quora, lowering their overall trust in the product.

The fact that a bunch of writers have given up in frustration having credentials is immaterial to that goal.


Does Quora want to see both a Created and a Last Modified date on Questions? Noooooo. Because that’s clutter that only a writer would find useful. UX must be Streamlined! And Clean! And Funky! And Endlessly Scrolling, Partying Like It’s 2010!

Does Quora want to see a date on a Question at all? Noooooo. Because that would demotivate people from writing clickbait answers to canonical answers, and their canonicity means that they have to be treated as evergreen. Out of time and space. Valid for the long tail of clickability.

Remember. Evergreen sells. Good for business. Putting dates on questions puts a mental expiry date on them. Bad for business. Good for writers, but screw them, they’re gonna keep writing anyway. And if they won’t, a bunch of new ones will.

Why yes, I am vituperative. I doubt that I am also wrong.

And what are we writers to do, confronted with this?

As a wise Nick 🙂 recently said:

We obviously aren’t going to convert Quora to our mindset. All we can do is use Quora for our own ends; we ignore Quora’s ends where they diverge from ours, and we resist, as much as we can, Quora getting in the way of our ends.

PS. Wanna know what Quora Design think of long-time Quora writers? Here’s Mohsenin again.

As Quora grew, we relied on Bios more and thornier problems began to emerge. We saw topic experts in many fields either not use Bios at all or use them in a jokey fashion. While those jokes might be funny to seasoned Quora users, they’re unhelpful and confusing to readers, and create a bad norm for newer authors.

Does it sound to you like “seasoned Quora users” are the core constituency he cares about keeping happy?

Yeah, arguably he’s right about jokes. But no, they aren’t. And if more of them give up on having credentials at all, if they can’t or won’t work out how to provide a credential Quora likes? As far as Quora’s concerned, that’s a win.

Answered 2017-08-16 · Upvoted by

Achilleas Vortselas, Quora Admin Emeritus

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