Reducing Participation:

My point is around my ideal of Quora as collaborative solving problems with the community. My question writing process has been: Write a question with the title having a self-contained meaning, and not relying on the question details. Write details to support the question and not contradict it, while remaining optional. These would typically be an elaboration of what I’m looking for, or, links to other questions, or answers. I would have hoped Quora supported more semantic relationships such as “follow up to” (something you’ve touched on with Follow-up Questions, a feature I never noticed), or “related to”. I’ve been a big fan of linking to other answers and questions, even to the point of linking to other people’s answers to the same question, and not in the name, in the hope that the system would derive some meaning from it.

I think of the initial questions, then follow-up answers, and then the following questions, as an entire thread of conversation. In a more “loose” form, this is what’s happening in comments, where some real gems of knowledge/experience/opinion could be found. I’ve wanted comments to be first-class objects in the system, but that didn’t happen.

Now speaking of knowledge. The whole idea of community is letting people tell stories. I am a strong supporter of letting people tell stories by answering questions. (As are you – the only minor thing I don’t like about your answers is that you address the questioner by name, while I prefer to answer in the abstract and generally not address the questioner or even the generic “you”.)

I suspect that the top writers (not necessarily Quora Top Writers) who prefer to write “answers as articles” don’t believe in this as strongly, and for them, “questions as writing prompts” will suffice.

And then the mission of Quora as the source of knowledge. I see people who laugh at this idea because Quora is full of personal anecdotes and stories. I take the opposite view, and believe Quora has done very well by getting people to share stories. How are we readers to judge that these are not important? How much of our civilisation’s history has been written, not in the form of academic papers, but from personal correspondence, diaries, or even graffiti on the ancient cities’ walls?

And now Quora has rejected this. I would have been fine with stopping question details, but they have retroactively destroyed our work in setting up the questions They are reducing the whole process to a canonical question that is imposed by force (and not willingly by question writers/moderators/gnomes who write, edit and merge questions because they want to).

Finally, this new process needs skilled question writers and editors more than ever to create the correct question according to their new criteria. If Quora were consistent, and wanted to be the perfect ad-making machine (as in Scott’s post) then they would train users to write questions that would yield the best answers for them. But no, they still tempt the new user with the “Ask Question” button and the “What is your question box”. This to me reveals the chaos of Quora management and product design, a whole interesting story, but a distraction from my points here.

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