How Quora is taking off

Social network fatigue afflicts all of us at some time or another.

And equally, shiny new networks attract attention from the fatigued.

I just took a five day sabbatical from Twitter as a sort of Christmas truce offering to my family. It was a great Christmas.

It reinvigorated my enthusiasm for the Twitter upon my return. No two days are ever the same on there and I owe lots to Twitter.

However, during that rest period I became more restless on Quora ;)

I think it's superb. It's like Yahoo Answers without the design odour of the 90's..

It's Like LinkedIn without the blatant self interest. Like Facebook without the nauseating inaneness. Like Formspring without the seedy anonymity. 

And it's attracting a lot of attention.

But it's much more than unlike other networks with their negatives.

..hits the sweetspot of functionality and integration..

It sports a fine UX and hits the sweetspot of functionality and integration with other networks without a sensation of page clutter, but more than anything, it's the community that determines its appeal.

Prominent tech bloggers have covered it and play there, as has the tech press and the wider media who have reported it. Marketing types are arriving, advocating it and pulling with them more devoted users all the time.

I took a little tour of Google Trends to see how it's adoption is stacking up.

Let's not forget Formspring is some 20 million users strong so the scales which show worldwide search volume in this graph above only hint at that upward December 2010 curve from Quora denoted by the red line.

If we then take a closer look at Google Trends for Quora for the last 30 days, we can see a much more noticeable lift:

Now, let's look a closer at the Silicon Valley effect.

So, if we now split this data to a regional level, to USA search traffic, and display the December 2009 Formspring equivalent boom period for USA traffic...

...and then compare that to the recent few days of the Quora take off..

...whoosh, you can appreciate the difference in that steepness of the curve.

the Quora adoption curve sets a new steepness precedent..

I know it's very hard to compare periods as conditions, even in 24 months in tech and social media are so changeable and there are probably many other yardsticks to look at.

The possiblities for amplification of a message via the likes of the now engorged Twitter compared to two years ago is significant, but nonetheless the take off of Quora is remarkable and it does feel like it has real momentum.

Infact the new arrivees, the buzz, and the growing pains that are being generated is already being noticed during december 2010.

It will certainly be interesting to see how Quora develops in 2011.

What do you think of Quora? Will it flatline or ramp up in 2011?

ps. You a Chrome user? Want to install the unofficial Quora Chrome extension?  This is how you find, download and install it: http://screenr.com/iIu

5 responses
Paul,

Glad you pulled the stats. I've been seeing growth in Quora massively in a very simple way. I signed up about a month ago and simply watch the "follows" come into my email. They have been accelerating almost every day - without even posting in the system. I think this is clearly network effects at play.

Also - i think Quora got two things dead right:

1) Its not anonymous. This increases the value dramatically. I've written about the issue of anonymity a few times (http://trada.com/blog/2010/10/18/anonymity-in-crowdsourcing/) and i'm a big believer that online reputation and thus contextual value requires transparency.

2) The adopted the Facebook @ linking format which lets you highlight and link other participants into the conversation in a very powerful way. Again - driving network effects.

Good stuff from the Quora team. The only downside is that now our social media team has yet another outlet to monitor. That said, well worth it.

NIel

.@nielr1you are right Neil, the non anonymous nature of Quora makes it compelling and lots of little UX touches like comment frequency capping your ability to a thread is quite smart.

I only noticed today something they got right which LinkedIn still has not: notification emails received in Gmail mobile Apps (nokia version at least) from Quora have clickable links to a profile, whereas the LinkedIn do not, rendering them largely useless. Staggering.

Your link incidentally has an extra ) that is causing a 404, page not found!

I read on Quora that the user count can be seen by examining the URL of a profile picture. If that is indeed right, we've seen 26% growth in the last 7 days. My friend Igo Tan is 547777 (joined today) and I was 434442 when I joined last Monday afternoon.
.@jimworth Jim, the only thing that came close in hype recently was Google Wave - which people were too spooked about. This feels very different as the enthusiasm is palpable.

Based on that growth, my back of the envelope calculations show Quora could hit a million users before February.

. @paulgailey Sorry, I'm retracting my incorrect quora user estimates above: read this: http://techcrunch.com/2010/12/03/quora/ and my recent tweet. It seems no one knows the real numbers.