Just when you thought there was already enough social media in your life, here comes Quora. The startup founded by former Facebook executives raised $14 million last year and was valued at nearly $90 million before even releasing a product. Now Quora is live, and the journalism community is buzzing.
“As more journalists have joined the network over the last week there has been a surge in journalism related questions and discussions,” notes Journalism.co.uk. Writer Kristine Lowe says reporters can use Quora to drum up story ideas the same way they have been using Twitter. The difference is that Quora doesn’t have a 140-character length limit and lets you follow topics as well as people, which is a feature journalists should love. It also connects to members’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, enabling friends and followers to monitor their questions, answers and topics as part of their news feeds. Caroline McCarthy has a good summary of the perfect storm that’s created so much Quora buzz.
Quora describes itself as “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” Topics are raised in a question-and-answer format and answers are updated in real-time. You can follow questions, topics and people. The crowdsourced organization scheme is quick and reasonably comprehensive. The “Newspapers” topic, for example, shows the most recent additions by default, with options to view open questions or “best questions,” which are those with the most favorable votes from members. There are also subtopics for individual newspapers. Anyone can curate a topic.
Search results on Quora continue the question-and-answer metaphor. For trivia nuts, it’s a gold mine, but it’s also a good way to stimulate story ideas and find sources. Want to know how the “often prickly relationship between PR people and journalists can be improved?” There’s a topic on that, and every respondent is a potential source.
Writing in the Globe & Mail, Amber MacArthur comments that “Unlike Twitter in its early days, Quora appears to have a base of members that stretch beyond early adopters. Even business executives, such as former AOL Chairman and CEO Steve Case, are answering dozens of questions.” In fact, Case recently used Quora to answer a question about how much it cost AOL to distribute millions of CDs in the 1990s, which is a topic AOL has never chosen to discuss.
Writing on Poynter, Mallary Jean Tenor has six ways journalists can use Quora. She notes that D.C. online startup TBD has asked their readers to tag content that editors should follow and experimented with crowdsourcing a story on where to find the best pizza in Washington. Some journalists have also used Quora to solicit interview questions and to generate quick answers to difficult-to-search queries like “What percentage of 20-somethings subscribe to print newspapers?”
Elias Bizannes suggests that Quora is the future of journalism. Chris Crum says it’s kind of like Twitter with quality control, and that can be both a good and a bad thing. We’re curious to hear your thoughts. Is this an evolution or journalism or just another tool journalists can use?
This entry was posted on Thursday, January 13th, 2011 at 9:33 am and is filed under Citizen Journalism, Future of Journalism, Journalism, NewMedia, Newspapers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.