Quora: Crowdsourced Answers


“a place to get answers, to share what you know, to read, and to think”

Quora is a website that allows users to anonymously post questions on a variety of topics and receive answers from anyone. The best answers are then upvoted by users while the unpopular answers are downvoted and eventually hidden. Users can create profiles that include their expertise, location, and professional and educational background, which adds to the validity of their answers. In addition to upvoting and downvoting there are other features that add include:

  • Follow users to see answers they have posted and responses they have upvoted
  • Follow topics that you are interested, ranging from music to digital marketing to business school
  • Verified User profiles that confirm profiles of known leaders and public figures are who they say they are as designated by a blue checkmark

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Crowd participation & management

Users post questions on on Quora because they can do so anonymously and receive personalized answers from experts in that area. In the same way anonymous posting encourages more questions, profiles encourage more answers. Comparing Quora responses to a Google search result, a user is not sure who creates the content on the different websites, there is no context provided with the “answer”, and other people do not personally verify that an “answer” is correct. Instead an algorithm determines what link should be at the top based on previous click throughs. On quora some answers have been upvoted hundreds or thousands of times and some users have thousands and thousands of followers. Both provide confirmation of an answer being correct.

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Knowledge sharers are incentivized by being able to share their expertise and build their reputation on the platform. Getting an upvote on Quora is similar to getting a like on facebook; users love the personal gratification and positive feedback.


As a user, I believe that Quora has done a fairly good job hiding irrelevant answers. However, there could be some improvement on the monitoring and filtering of questions. I am sure Quora is doing some monitoring right now, but I personally still see a few questions in my Top Stories that probably should not be there. Improving this will need to continue in the future.

Another challenge is that Quora is only valuable to users who understand English, which could eventually limit their availability to scale. Localization in other languages will help Quora continue to grow their user base in new markets and increase the amount of content generated. I can see users in Brazil posting thousands of questions that may only be relevant to their community, but this is unable to happen if the product is not available in Portuguese.


Describe value creation and value capture + growth potential

The value creation is the user provided content. As the number of questions and number of answers increase, the greater the potential ad revenue that can be generated on this product. Currently, Quora does not capture any value because it doesn’t charge users or show ads. I think it has a lot of potential to scale as long as it maintains quality and invests in localization. It seems that not focusing on localization is a big miss for the company.







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  1. Great post, Andrea! I find ways in which Quora incentivizes its users to promote quantity and quality of participation particularly interesting. Once you have a significant number of up votes on your answers, you can ask more questions and promote them to the top of relevant users’ feed. Some users, especially sales and marketing professionals or startup founders, also find the site useful to build their own personal brand or to spread awareness about their companies and products. On value capture, I wonder if there’s a potential B2B play possible by selling to companies excerpts of anonymized data on what users think about the company’s products or brands. Thoughts?

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