Battle of the Q&A stars: Is Quora the next big thing?

Plenty of Q&A services have been doing the rounds lately which have had a focus on variety of topics or also on specific topics thereby catering to a single niche. Quora has generated plenty of noise in recent months but will it really last the ages of Yahoo! Answers or Answers?

Quora

Quora the Palo Alto, California based Q&A service has seen much growth since the end of 2010 and also in 2011. It has been in the news for both good and bad reasons. It saw escalating traffic at the end of December 2010 which also reflected on its speed as the site received nearly 5 to 10 times their normal traffic, due to mentions on TechCrunch , Scobleizer , CNN . Some have compared the service to be the next Wikipedia while expert – Robert Scoble at first called it the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years and then retracted that by putting down the mistakes he made in judging Quora The service faces uphill tasks in scaling as its answers are updated in real time and reflected to other followers at that same time which is not an easy task for Quora’s engineers to face. It has been rosy few months for the service with more traffic being generated and it receiving $86 million in funding.

Yahoo! Answers

Previously known as Yahoo! Q&A, the service started in 2005 with its community and topic driven platform where users can post questions and the best answer be chosen by the person who posted the question.   It’s available in twelve languages and also for non Latin character countries such as Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese and Arabic. Many question Yahoo! Answers’ ability to maintain quality and depth when it comes to answers. Also, it has high quantity of dubious question along with unreliable, invalid and sometimes irrelevant responses. As per Quantcast’s traffic statistics for Yahoo! Answers in January 2010, the website received more than 24 million people per month which resulted in more than 62 million visits a month. The questions and answers here feature most of the times on Google search results.

Answers.com

Answers.com is one of the biggest Q&A service on the web. Just like Yahoo! Answers this also works in the form of a community but it also is in the form of a wiki where answers can be improved in the future by other members of the community. The company started in 1999 and has support for English, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Tagalog language. The popularity of the service can be judged by the fact that it reached its 10 millionth answer and announced an iPhone app and has a strong community of 5.5 million registered users. As of December 2010, the website received 52.3 million visitors in USA and 86.8 million worldwide. Recently, the venture was acquired for $127 million cash by AFCV holdings.

LinkedIn Answers

Professional networking website – LinkedIn also has its Q&A service called LinkedIn Answers where the questions as expected are professional in nature. The service started in 2007 and most of the questions are about finding referrals and connections. Possibly the best part about it is that you can pick which of your connections, you think, can answer the question. Thereafter it’s visible and shared to their connections and also other experts in that field. The top answer is picked by the person who asked the question and gain expertise points based on these.

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow which focuses entirely on Q&A for programmers where they can share tips and tricks, crowdsource solutions to their problems. They also launched specialist sections dedicated to cooking , math , photography and English . At the end of 2010, the service reached more than 16 million unique visitors and more than 70 million page views. Also, the quality of answers is not hampered despite the huge growth as is said by CEO Joel Spolsky.

There are other Q&A services which also have their own variety of fans such as Aardvark, ChaCha, Mahalo. All these services have an edge over the other in one feature or on quality of answers or the user interface or its community in itself.

In terms of user opinions, Manan Kakkar, technology blogger at ZDNet prefers Quora over others. He says,

Quora as of now has quality answers from founders and engineers of services that has helped validate the service. The quality debate is affecting Quora because moderators are now trying to be over enthusiastic about down voting good answers. This will affect the user’s trust.

Technology expert, Mahendra Palsule – editor at TechMeme also finds Quora to be above the others. In his blog post he said,

Quora is becoming the go-to place for having intelligent conversations on any topic. Quora avoided aggregation altogether. It has kept it simple, stupid.

Head of Digital Strategy at EdelmanKarthik Srinivasan, also found Quora to be the better one despite his limited usage by saying,

I’m not an active user of Q&A services, but I find Quora to be the best, so far. I seem to be getting the best opinions there.

So that’s three votes for Quora by three people in different industries. Where does your vote lie?

Did we miss out on any of the services? Which is your favourite Q&A service and why?