Quora users have been wondering when it would happen. Social media experts have been speculating, and it is finally here. Quora changes its policy to permit self promotion.
This week, Quora – the question and answer site that has exploded onto the social media scene this past year – has changed their policy. Instead of a site wide ban on self promotion they are now encouraging the practice. The post announcing the policy change takes an interesting approach; instead of lauding the benefits of the new policy, they point out the weakness of the old policy:
“Our old policy prohibited content that is ”primarily self-promotional.” This rule was problematic for two reasons:
Quora’s key principle regarding content is that users should make the site a great resource for people who want to learn. The quality of the answer is what we care about. Evaluating the intention of an answer does not support this policy.
We want to encourage users to provide answers based on personal experience, and this often involves — or even requires – discussing subject(s) in which the writer has personal experience. Personal experience is an asset, not a liability, and is a key element of many of the best answers on Quora. In other words, we want users to write about what they know and care about – companies, organizations, causes, people, products, etc.”
The post goes on to note that users are still required to “disclose relevant affiliations” and that Quora acknowledges that there is a risk that allowing self promotion might result in an influx in spam. As for the latter, Quora notes that they continue to hold the right to “block or ban” users who do not post helpful content on the site.
When phrased like that, the policy change does seem like a logical next step, but what does the policy change mean for users. Well, it depends on the kind of user. For marketers, it is a huge opportunity. Google indexes Quora responses as part of their “real-time” search option. This means companies can send free messages to consumers and potential clients and have answers pop up in Google’s search. In short, if you’re a business and you haven’t joined Quora, you should. Now.
However, for non-business-affiliated users, the result of this policy change may be more mixed. On the one hand, Quora has a point; an across the board ban on self promotion is problematic because often experts are affiliated with companies. In theory, the policy could open up the opportunity for more direct, clear, expert responses.
However, there are some downsides. The concern about overall quality of answers is the most obvious. No one wants to sift through spam to get to a quality response. However the larger concern for all Quora users is that navigating the site and its answers is going to require a higher degree of “Quora” literacy. Before taking any response or thread at face value, Quora users will have to account for who asked the question and who is posting the responses. Will the potential for better responses be worth it? Only Quora users can determine the answer.