It’s Not My Fault You Are New to Quora

This is cross-posted from the Quora Review, a blog about Quora.

A lot of people – especially new users – think Quora is hard to use. And the sign up process is not as easy as it could be (as David Pogue recently pointed out). But Quora’s initial wonkiness actually helps it be a better site.

Because when something is great, you should have to work a little bit to get it.

We don’t know how the Quora team wants to grow the site. With no clear answer from them, all the community can do is continue being what we are. And when new people want to join in, they are more than welcome – as long as they can play nicely with others.

But lately, Quora has been like a party where, that guy shows up already drunk from another party, and demands to be the center of attention by goofing off (some reasons why that’s happening). Even though everyone was having a perfectly good time before he arrived, and others have joined the party since he arrived and are getting along just fine.

If that guy came over to my party, I would throw him out of the house, before he crapped on the floor. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect – unless they have been disrespectful first.

But Quora doesn’t throw those people out. Instead, the community patiently and repeatedly explains to half-hearted users why their answers have been collapsed, tidy up their grammar, and generally ask them, politely and civilly, to please try a bit harder.

I’m not apologizing for problems with the moderation backlog, or the off-putting autopopulated copy that goes along with marking an answer Not Helpful. The Quora team needs to fix those.

But I’m not on the Quora team. And it’s not my job to make sure your feelings aren’t hurt. I suggest edits and collapse bad answers because lazy, half-baked thinking wastes other people’s time and is a huge insult.

If you have something to say that is worth paying attention to– then prove it by writing something interesting. No one on Quora is stopping you. On the contrary, there are thousands of questions where someone is just waiting for you to answer them.

People learn by doing, not by reading FAQs or watching tutorials. If you don’t understand the difference between a comment and a question, guess what? The site is literally designed to give you that information. Just ask a question.

I am not an elitist. When I joined Quora, I was in the exact same place as nearly all new Quorans. I didn’t get an invite when it was invitation-only. When I joined, I did not bring one single person onto this new service (unlike Robert Scoble, whowishes he hadn’t). I wrote some 100% wrong answers when I started. But, I listened and learned – and it’s fair to expect the same from others.

Quora offers equality of opportunity to share your intelligence, logic, wit, and helpfulness. But it does not offer equality of outcome. Some answers will get downvoted, and collapsed. If you believe that there is value in the system, you’ll find a way to participate. If not, don’t complain that Quora wasn’t what you wanted, when it never promised it would be.