How do I update my Quora profile

Stickiness: How Quora Maximizes User Activity

There is hardly a young online service that the web is currently talking about as much as it is about Quora. One reason for this is the intelligent mechanisms of the question-and-answer community to turn new users into active users.


Most of you will surely have noticed that the Twitter, tech and blog world has been talking (and writing) intensely about Quora for some time, the US startup that has succeeded in what other comparable portals have been unable to do: the concept of a question -To make the answer portal "sexy" (more on this in our Quora portrait from the beginning of October).

The latest Quora wave, which was set in motion shortly before Christmas in early adopter circles, is driven by intensive reporting in tech blogs around the world, by Robert Scoble's Quora praises and by lofty prognoses, which are already outstripping the up-and-coming service Twitter or watch blogging make the difference.

Whether Quora will actually follow the path of other former hype objects from the USA (such as Twitter or Tumblr), which is characterized by sustainable growth, or whether it will ultimately feel the transience of the social media euphoria, that has not yet been decided.

But that's not what it should be about at this point. Instead, in this post I would like to describe how Quora masters a challenge with flying colors that other startups regularly fail: The immediate involvement of new users in the flow of information and ensuring the highest possible level of user engagement from day one.

Who does not know that: You register on some new site, you are forwarded to your personal homepage and find there: nothing! Apart from a few navigation links, a welcome text and a video explaining all functions, all current, dynamic or personalized content is missing - a virtual ghost town. After a few minutes of clicking around without motivation, you say goodbye to the service and there is a high probability that you will not pay it another visit.

Quora shows impressively how this can be done better and can be seen as an inspiring role model for other social web offerings:

Document 1: Suggest topics to new users

An invitation is required to register with Quora. When an existing user invites acquaintances to Quora, the service calls on them to define topics that might interest the person to be invited. Quora automatically follows these topics after registration. As soon as the newcomer enters his Quora homepage for the first time, it is filled with up-to-date question-answer threads on the topics specified by the inviting user.

The possibility of proposing topics to other users is not limited to the invitation process: every user who follows you on Quora can be offered new topics at any time via their profile and thus draw their attention to certain topics. Related questions then appear in the user's personal stream.

Document 2: Automatically following Twitter and Facebook contacts

When registering, Quora requires the account to be created to be linked to your personal Facebook or Twitter profile (or both) and automatically follows all users or Facebook contacts that you have followed on Twitter. This could cause displeasure among some users (the advance notice is easy to overlook), but it means that the personal Quora stream is enriched with activities of the following users the first time they visit the homepage, which, as with document 1, the risk reduces feeling left alone and disoriented at first.

Document 3: Topic and follower suggestions

Quora regularly ensures that users at various points on the site receive suggestions for users and topics that match their own areas of interest. The mechanisms for this are reminiscent of Twitter's "Who to Follow" feature and take into account previously followed topics, questions asked, the personal Quora network as well as users, questions, topics etc.


Evidence 4: Voting function as an ideal introduction

Not every newbie will immediately want to ask their own question or feel called to provide an answer. Many users will just start looking around the site and take a look at the question-and-answer threads presented to them in the stream. Quora offers a voting option for every answer given by users: By clicking on one of the two arrows - one pointing up, one pointing down - you can easily indicate whether you like or disapprove of a statement. At least based on my observations, voting seems to be a popular entry-level function for many Quora newbies - you can't go wrong, but you are still actively involved in finding the answer and also nourish your personal activity stream on your own Quora profile page.

Evidence 5: Refinement of questions asked by others

"Unorganized Questions" is located in the top right navigation bar. There Quora presents questions asked by other users that have not been adequately tagged with topics, and asks for help. The keywording is important because it ensures that a question appears in the streams of the users who follow the respective topic.

By calling on the community to expand incomplete questions with additional topics, Quora increases the visibility of these questions and thus the chance of an answer. This function is especially important with regard to new users who may ask a first question but forget about topics. Thanks to the completion of other Quora users, the probability of replies increases, which from the user's point of view is seen as a sense of achievement and has a positive effect on the initial overall assessment of the service.

Evidence 6: Tripartite information frame of reference

Whoever follows users as well as subject areas and individual questions receives the most relevant Quora stream for their own areas of interest. However, this is not a requirement in order to benefit from Quora. Exclusively following questions controlled via the search function, subscribing exclusively to topics or following other users alone is also possible. In contrast to Twitter and Facebook, Quora offers three different options for subscribing to information, and thanks to this adaptability to individual preferences, it lowers the entry barriers and the risk of newly registered users becoming invalid files.


If you want, you will surely find numerous other aspects that have a beneficial effect on user activity. Quora combines various procedures, some of which are known from other services, into an overall solution, which makes it extremely difficult for inquisitive new users who speak English not to show any activity on the site during their first visits (reading question-and-answer posts is also one Activity). Quora thus ensures the highest possible "stickiness".

It took me about a year and an estimated five tries to find pleasure in Twitter. On Facebook, it took around six months before I identified myself as a regular user. Quora succeeded in doing this within a significantly shorter period of time thanks to its intelligent engagement mechanisms.

That says little about the long-term potential of the offer - the scalability of the Quora construct gives me the impression of a great challenge. But it explains why Quora makes users rave within a short time and why the offer is more than just another of the dozen existing question-answer communities.

Update: We are not sending any further Quora invites!