I have written a few answers on Quora - the curated and better version of Yahoo Answers for the uninitiated (this is only a dumbed down description to be fair).
What sets Quora apart is that the moderation and the BNBR - Be nice, Be respectful - policy and also quality control that was in place a few years ago.
The quality of answers has got worse with time over the last few years (so says every other Quoran second day of usage onwards)
But this is, of course, classic Econ101 at play here. Quora was initially a small community with high-quality answers. The quality control was tight. Apart from Quora employees, there were admin users and moderators too (who were not employees) who helped keep the quality of content. The focus was then on increasing the user base or even if not, the number of users grew steadily.
The problem with new users is that - coming from the world of Facebook and WhatsApp, people blindly post forwards from these places as answers on Quora. As of now, users from India form a significant part of the user base and The Indian Upvote Lottery is a dominant factor that supplements the low-quality answers getting popular on the site. The signal to noise ratio is very low and continues to reduce. But how can this be contained/corrected?
I had heard a lot about Reddit’s comment system including the upvote/downvote mechanism. I think Quora could borrow a thing or two from Reddit (perhaps it already does - no concrete info available as of now)
- First, few answers to be pushed to the users’ feeds and upvotes to be hidden (or at least, not to be displayed upfront but in the answers stats section hidden somewhere at the end of the answer)
- Second, a clear way to distinguish answers for entertainment and other answers. Why so? I realised the two most popular answers I have written are one which is an entertaining joke answer and the other is a very simple explanation of a technical concept. Perhaps such a segregation needs to be factored in into the algorithm, I would love an option to switch to between these or at least control the content delivered to me to some extent.
But of course, this will require a community to actively report low-quality content and moderate. I don’t see this happening soon.
But trying to promote things on Quora is a pain. If you have to get something viral (read high upvotes, views) there are only a few things you can do:
Write a lot of answers with 0 or less than 10 upvotes and wait for one of the answers to get viral which will ensure at least some of your content will get popular if you have a few viral answers triggering a cycle.
Top Writer upvotes your answers
Write what the masses on Quora want - funny answers on trending topics, answers on and related to India, controversial topics (Love for Army, Indians are the best etc.)
Choose the time of posting answers carefully. (Although this approach of traffic based guestimate of best time to post can be made better - I’ll do that someday)