Quora: The growing Q&A ecosystem of learning and education

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Do you have an interesting question to which you can’t seem to find an answer? Is it academics-related? Or is it so weird that nothing turns up on Google?

Here’s your solution: Quora. It is a Q&A site and phone application where questions are asked, answered, and edited by its estimated 100 million strong user base. Even though there are other Q&A sites available such as Yahoo! Answers, Quora requires users to register with their real names rather than an Internet pseudonym, in order to improve the credibility and quality of answers.

And indeed, this seems to work! The growing community of Quorans has thus far provided answers which are consistently detailed and helpful, becoming the one Q&A platform that has merged all the good and wonderful of what Q&A sites have to offer while cutting out toxicity and negativity. Quora is truly treasure trove of learning opportunities for students. Here are three ways you can use Quora to make it your best source of knowledge!

  1. Quora’s Digest

The Quora Digest is an emailed list of answers from Quora suggested for you based on your interests, people you follow, and the answer popularity. Quorans receive the Quora Digest a few times a week or every day. The 10 or so answers that are featured in your Digest are picked by Quora to introduce you to new people and questions.

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Above is a snapshot of my Quora’s Digest, personalised to my interests and topics. More often than not, these curated answers introduce me to new ideas, concepts or even experiences on subjects which I never considered before but intrigue me enough to search more about. Hence, beyond just being a Q&A site, Quora is my personal  knowledge base where I can explore and diversify my views and opinions by exposing me to a plethora of ideas from people who come from various backgrounds and places.

As an added bonus, these answers tend to be as entertaining and interesting as they are informative!

  1. Meeting new people

With such a huge user base, it would be a shame not to interact and learn from these people!

And guess what, you can! Famous Quorans like Jimmy Wales, Mark Zuckerburg and Ashton Kutcher, are occasionally on Quora’s “Now Taking Questions” sessions where Quorans can directly ask questions and interact with them. For instance, Jeff Glueck, CEO of Foursquare is on the “Now Taking Questions” session at this very moment [true at the time of writing this post]! Quora provides this opportunity for anyone to ask for their personal/expert opinions on questions in their specific fields.

In addition, you can actually make friends through Quora as it is linked to Facebook and Twitter, and expand your social network. There are so many interesting people with such vibrant experiences on Quora who are open to making friends. One example is Rory Young, an Anti-Poaching and Tracking Instructor based in Africa who tells stories as though you’re right there with him.

All you need to do… is ask!

  1. Be Nice, Be Respectful (BNBR)

main-thumb-t-70826-200-rezyobt79k3mutl2rhsnsxpx2djcwi9wThe “Be Nice, Be Respectful” policy is a Quora policy and core principle that requires that users treat other users with civility and respect. Simple, isn’t it?

If you’re using Quora, it is crucial to uphold this policy in order to have a meaningful experience. Far too many Q&A sites have succumbed to a community of toxicity and hate, where answers are unhelpful or even offensive. Quora has minimised this so far by holding questions and answers to a high standard, and enforcing the BNBR policy by removing content, warning users, comment blocking, an edit-block, or a ban. This is what allows Quora to continue to draw in new users daily and to maintain a decent quality of answers within the Quora community.

In any case, getting banned from Quora cuts off a highly valuable learning experience that would otherwise be free and open to all. It is well within our capability to maintain civility and respect for others. Overall, it contributes to having a pleasant experience on Quora. In the words of a Quoran, Gabriel Flood:

“BNBR is a philosophy as much as a policy, and that philosophy can be stated thusly: “When users begin emotionally arguing instead of respectfully discussing, everyone (including lurkers and observers) stops learning.”

All in all, there is no doubt that Quora still has room to grow as a community and as a Q&A site. However, Quora is definitely heading in the right direction. This is a cause for celebration for us students! In my opinion, no other Q&A site has come close to being the nexus of human experiences and meaningful discussion while maintaining a relatively high level of respect for all users. So long as you follow these 3 ways to using Quora meaningfully, I am certain that you will find yourself learning something new even when you aren’t planning to. Have fun and don’t forget to Be Nice, (and) Be Respectful!

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