Quora: The best website you've never heard of
When you think of the traditional (social media) websites that you often mindlessly browse through during times of boredom, you probably think of the usual suspects: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, 9GAG, and so on. That's a darn shame because you're missing out on a platform that has an endless wealth of knowledge.
Quora is "a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by its community of users." Quite simply, it's a minimalist website where people ask questions and a lot of people answer and discuss them. You can upvote the best answers and downvote answers that sound like nonsense. There are also moderators that try to eradicate the trolls so that the community stays healthy and friendly.
This website has slowly become my favorite and go-to website for when I have some down time in my daily schedule. After following some remarkably intellectual writers, I have gained a ridiculous amount of knowledge and life lessons that I never would have obtained anywhere else. With all that said, in this post I will go through some reasons in favor of and against the use of Quora (spoiler: just make a profile and get started already!)
1. Personal branding. Let me preface this by saying that I absolutely hate this phrase, but it has become a necessary evil: your personal brand. Quora is a deceptively good way of building your personal brand because you can show off your knowledge and discussion skills through the questions that you answer. The caveat here is that you have to use your real name to take advantage of this. I ran a Google search on my own name the other day and, quite amusingly, found that my Quora profile came up first in the results. Hence, if you don't use your (real) name and/or don't put a link to your Quora profile on your social media accounts, you might not be able to benefit from this. The choice is yours but personally I've put a link to my profile on my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and haven't had anything catastrophic happen to me since then.
2. Quora fame ≠ Facebook fame. If you have 30,000 followers on Quora, you're simply a nobody. If, on the other hand, you have 30,000 followers on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, there's a good chance you're at least kinda important in the greater scheme of things. This might seem like a disadvantage but is actually great. It means you don't get all this clickbaity crap, the flashy posts looking fishing for followers, or, worst of all, bots. It's pointless to try to garner fame on Quora because it's such a non-mainstream platform. Besides, there's no posting pictures of yourself, livestreaming, funny panda videos, or posts about your Saturday-night happy hour. There's simply less distraction. All in all, nobody really cares about the person or the pictures on Quora; it's the knowledge that matters.
3. Brilliant minds + Free knowledge. My favorite Quora "person" is Matthew Bates, a hugely respected writer there (but you've obviously never heard of him!) and just one of the many brilliant minds on this platform. After following him and hanging around on Quora for a bit over a year, I found that this platform has so much less noise than the traditional (social media) platforms which makes it extremely easy to find very smart people across every profession and topic. And... it's free! So much free knowledge!
4. Every topic under the sun is covered. Really, everything is discussed on Quora. Be it fashion, anime, economics, music, personal development, life ambitions, romance... Seriously, you have no lame excuse of "the stuff I like is too weird or random so it probably won't be here." I guarantee you that you'll find whatever it is that tickles your interest.
As with everything in life, there's always a downside to something so I think it's only fair I warn you of the evils of Quora:
1. Dodgy questions. And I mean seriously dodgy stuff. Here's some of the, ehm, dubious things I've seen on Quora over the months/years:
"How do women get men to pay for their plastic surgery?"
"If some of my lady friends want to tie me up to my bed when I am wearing green lady tights, should I let them?"
"What should you do if you don't like your kid? I didn’t want a child, but my husband did. So we had a child, who is cared for by my husband and his parents. She is 4, talks a lot, and can't quietly read. I want a divorce. She’s driving me crazy."
"How would a man think if he sees a beautiful girl without a bra?"
Believe me, that's only the tip of the iceberg of madness that sometimes flies by on Quora. To be fair, I think moderators have done a good job of filtering the worst stuff out. As a strong piece of advice, if you come across these types of weird questions, please downvote them. This ensures that they show up less in the general feeds.
On a sidenote, I've also seen a lot of very worrying depression/suicide related questions on Quora, which makes me wonder how many people are desperately looking for someone to talk to about their psychological struggles. Obviously there's absolutely nothing wrong with talking about the topic, but there have literally been questions of people asking how, when, and where to commit suicide. That's probably a bit too far...
2. Random questions. I'm gonna sound very uptight here, but I feel that it is justified. I become so terribly agitated when I see stuff like "How are you doing right now?", "Hey, am I cool?", "I am big, but happy. What am I?" or "If you have a cat, can you post a picture of him/her?" This is NOT fucking MySpace. The strength of Quora is that it's a place for engaging and fascinating discussion; not this kind of mindless, juvenile crap. There are more than enough other websites that cater to these desires, while there are just not enough websites like Quora around.
3. This is not Tinder. Unfortunately, I've heard stories about women on Quora (and LinkedIn, for that matter) getting private messages from some sexually-deprived bloke looking to satisfy some twisted fantasy of his. I've also seen questions from guys asking some girls to post attractive pictures of themselves on the website. This is infuriating and ridiculous behavior; if you're looking to get lucky, go to Tinder or Bumble. Please don't satisfy your sexual deprivation on a Q&A website of all places (not to mention that it's a completely illogical place to do so).
4. Putting it all together. Ironically, there's a question on Quora named "What are the worst things about Quora?" How convenient! I suggest you read a few of the answers (there are over 100, so no need to go through all of them) if you want to find out more about some of the downsides of this platform.
All things considered, I have gained far more from using Quora than I have from, say, Facebook. I know many of us have a very defined routine when we open our browser; we automatically check our social media feeds, then e-mail, then maybe news of some sort. It's so habitual that it has become muscle memory for our fingers and automatically type the letters of those websites when our browser opens up. To somewhat counteract this, I've now "trained" myself to always check Quora first before anything else and answer a few questions here and there. It has become one of the most useful habits that I've developed over the last year or so.
What are you waiting for?
I cannot emphasize enough how much I think you need to get started on this website and just how underrated it is in the mainstream sphere. I've had some wonderfully engaging discussions with people there and, better yet, read answers that have provided me with absolutely transformative lessons for my day-to-day life. All for free!
Go ahead and make an account by either linking your Facebook or Gmail account or just making a "standard" Quora account. I also recommend downloading the Android or iOS app. Then, get started! Why not answer one question per day for the next few weeks and see how you like it? As a final piece of advice, make sure to be really precise with the topics you follow in your feed and the interests you set in your profile (i.e. the "knows about" section). Just like on Facebook, it helps the algorithms figure out what you will actually like.
Don't forget to let me know in the comments section what you think about the experience! Ooh, and if you're bored, you can follow me right here.
See you, Space Cowboy