Can Quora Go Mainstream?

If you read any of the usual suspect tech blogs, everyone jumped on the Quora bandwagon at the end of the year.  For the uninitiated, Quora is a website where the community can ask and answer questions.  The founders are former early Facebook employees, and the idea behind the site is that the answers to questions will continue to get better over time as more people use the product and answer questions.

The product which launched a year ago has mainly been used by early adopters in the technology crowd.  The questions that have been asked are, for the most part, well written, and get into technology issues.

As more people join Quora the question quality will not remain as high as it has been.  As a result Charlie Cheever, one of the founders, took to the Quora blog to explain the commitment to keeping Quora high quality.  Now before being able to ask a question, users will be prompted with a quiz before they can proceed.  The quiz confirms that the user can answer a question about the format of question that Quora is looking for.

The challenge is that mainstream users are not always going to do what you want them to do.  If my Mom is ever going to use Quora, she may ask a question like, “How many cords need to be plugged into my computer for it to work?”  Questions will become less interesting over time, and potentially less intelligent.  Keeping Quora high quality is antithetical to having more mainstream users ask questions.