How To Use Quora: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Quora and Why You Should Use It

Quora is a continually growing user generated collection of questions and answers. All the questions and answers are created, edited, and organized by the people who use it. While many people use Quora as a resource for research, information, and general interest, some use Quora to ­add and build their social network. There are many well established question and answer sites, but Quora differ­s from its predecessors in three main ways: it puts a heavy emphasis on the quality of questions and, in particular, answers; it allows users to vote on answers and encourages accountability amongst users, and it allows users to follow topics that interest them.

How to Get Setup With Quora

Quora has an exceptionally user friendly sign up system. By going to the signup page, you can choose two ways to register: with an email address or via your Facebook or Twitter account. Quora’s policy states that users must use a name “associated” with their real name in order to register.

Once registered, you’ll be guided through a number of easy steps, including adding your photo and finding friends. You’ll also be given the chance to select particular topics you want to follow; feel free to select as many or as few as you wish. Once your registration is complete, you’ll be brought to the main page.

How to Connect to Other Social Networking Sites

If you choose to register with the site using your Twitter of Facebook account or if you wish to add friends from other networks once registered, you’ll have to complete following process.

You will have to “allow” Quora to access the information in your Facebook or Twitter account. Once you’ve completed this step, Quora will automatically add your Facebook or Twitter friends to your Quora feed. Quora will only add friends who already use Quora, and will not message contacts who aren’t on the site. You can also connect Quora to your Tumblr or WordPress blog.

Getting Started on Quora

The first question you’ll see will be suggested by Quora; it will be “How do I get started using Quora?”. This is (rather obviously) a good place to start. Unlike other social networks, after the initial sign up phase, Quora has a heavier emphasis on following topics and subjects of interest rather than people, and the first step to having a good Quora experience is setting up a good feed.

Your feed is made up of the topics, people, and questions you choose to follow. To start, it’s easiest to follow general topics you’re interested in, but, as you get going, you’ll start to find more niche and interesting topics. Remember, you can also follow questions; if you’re feeling adventurous, you might try following a question like “What does it feel like to be schizophrenic?” or “Is becoming a prostitute ever a good career move?”

How to Ask a Question

The technical aspect of adding a question is easy; simply, type it into the box and press “add question”. But, you don’t just want to write a question; you want to write a good question that’s going to get good high quality answers. First and foremost, make sure your question is grammatically correct. This isn’t Twitter; you are encouraged to spell “too” with letters not the number “2″. Not only does Quora insist on this, it also gives you credibility

After the basics of grammatical correctness, there are two main components to a good question: clarity and the potential for open ended answers. Make sure your questions are posed in a way which provides enough information to inform readers. For example, if you’re asking about soccer player Fernando Torres, the question should be phrased to include some general background information: “Why did soccer player Fernando Torres go to soccer club Chelsea?”

Second, make sure your questions are posed in such a way as to encourage “narrative” answers. Don’t use the word “you”, and try to phrase questions so they will elicit multiple answers. Quora users are encouraged to provide lengthy, well thought-out answers, so, be certain you ask a question that warrants this kind of response

Answering a Question Part 1: The Basics

Quora prides itself on quality answers. While there are lots of different ways a “good” answer might be qualified, the most important thing for new users is giving, to the best of your ability, an honest and accurate answer. Do your best to address the question specifically, as opposed to leaving a general comment. Also, when possible, try to explain your response by outlining why you have given a certain response.

Adjusting Your Settings

So, you’re asking questions, your editing answers; everything’s great, except you’re getting constant email updates, spamming your inbox. Fear not; by going to Quora’s “settings”, you can control the notifications you receive. Not only that, you can specifically control the four major areas of notifications; topic related, questions related, answer related and user related. In “settings”, you can also edit your adult content filter by switching it on or off, control your privacy settings by making yourself invisible to search engines, or deactivate your account.

The Inbox

Much like Facebook, Quora has an inbox that allows users to send private messages to one another. The main function of the inbox is to communicate with people you have connected with on Quora but you are not your Facebook friends. This is a great networking tool. It allows you to connect with people of similar interests outside of the question an answer format, but you aren’t forced to add them to your personal network right away.

Upvote/Downvote

Quora has an “upvote” “downvote” feature. Simple in execution – you simple press the “up” or “down” button beside an answer – this feature is an essential part of Quora’s operating system. By voting an answer as good – an upvote – or poor – a downvote – it lets users to filter answers, allowing the most useful answers to be ranked at the top. This also helps to determine thought leaders.

Editing Questions and Answers

Question Reviewers are people who, as their title suggests, review Quora questions within a few hours of the time they get posted. They are essentially editors whose job it is to know the conventions and policies of Quora.

Questions are considered “community owned”, and, as such, any user can edit any question. This includes you. If you see a question with a spelling error, you can go in and make an edit to fix it. Also, if you see a question you feel is inappropriate, you can “flag” it, signalling to administrators to take a look at it.

Answers can also receive suggested edits from other users. When you suggest an edit, a notification will be sent to the writer who can choose to either keep the suggested edit or discard it. In the meantime, other users can comment on suggested edits.

This, of course, means that your questions and answers can receive edits and edit suggestions. First time users may be find edits upsetting, but keep in mind, people are generally genuinely excited about a topic and trying to improve your question or answer. Take a deep breath and consider their suggestions.

Answering a Question Part 2: Thought Leaders and How to Become One

So, you’re posting questions, following topics, connecting with people, but, now you want more. Perhaps, you’re representing your company, or, maybe, you’re an expert on a particular subject; either way, you’d like to establish yourself as a thought leader or “top answerer”. While answers are upvoted and downvoted democratically, once you’re beyond the initial phase, there are some steps you can take to improve the quality of your answers.

While quantity isn’t quality, longer more engaged answers tend to fare better on Quora because they provide a more thorough answer to a question. This doesn’t mean you should pad your answer, but taking the time to really engage with a subject will likely benefit you. A second great way to improve the quality of your answers on Quora is through sourcing. Sources add authority and credibility to you answers. Remember, some of the people posting answers are top tier professionals; to compete with their responses, it’s important to be as thorough as possible. Providing links to external sources will strengthen answers significantly.

Related Stories
Mediabistro Course

Content Marketing 101

Content Marketing 101Almost 60% of businesses use some form of content marketing. Starting December 8, get hands-on content marketing training in our online boot camp! Through an interactive series of webcasts, content and marketing experts will teach you how to create, distribute, and measure the success of your brand's content! Sign-up before November 10 to get $50 OFF with early bird pricing. Register now!