Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Quora Inverts Itself by Offering a Blogging Tool

Quora started its life as a Q&A site, one where people ask questions and get (hopefully) solid, well-written answers from a range of perspectives.

But not every A needs a Q to get started. Some people just have cool stories and information in their heads that they want people to read.

So Quora is inverting itself and offering a basic blogging tool, starting today.

This isn’t a blog service with custom layouts and nifty widgets. It’s not a full competitor to WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr or even Medium. It’s a place to write good stuff and get read by the Quora audience.

While Quora might not yet be an enormously popular site, it’s perfectly suited to get distribution for interesting writing, according to spokesperson Marc Bodnick.

That’s because unlike on other social networks, where content is generally only delivered to an audience of friends and followers, Quora is also organized by topics. All users subscribe to some number of these 300,000 topics, and sees new posts about them in their feed.

“Because of the topics system, you can come onto Quora as a nobody and be read by tens of thousands of people in a couple of days,” Bodnick said in an interview today.

Quora estimates that active writers average 30,000 monthly views, with some extremely active and popular writers getting more than one million views per year.

So essentially, Quora users are already blogging. Now Quora is just calling it blogging. And it will live alongside the site’s existing question-and-answer activity.

The new Quora blog layout is a sparse page. Instead of related Quora content in the right bar, blog post pages show other posts by the same author. There’s no notion of customizability, or importing an existing blog from elsewhere — but there are RSS feeds for each author.

As Bodnick described it, this is not a place for cat photos or day-in-the-life diaries, but rather for long-form personal essays, opinions and information.

Plus, Bodnick said Quora is totally fine with writers cross-posting and promoting their other work, and Quora won’t do anything to edit the blog posts besides making sure that topics aren’t being spammed.

But even though Quora blogs are different from Quora Q&A, they “will be a first-class content form on the site,” Bodnick said. Quora is really pushing this distribution angle — saying that most people who start a blog elsewhere have very little chance of it being seen. “If you write something good, we’re pretty much assuring you it’s going to get read,” he said.

On the logistics side, Quora has had a previous bookmarking tool called “Boards” that didn’t make a ton of sense, but people had already been harnessing it to write blog posts. The Board feature is being recast as the new Blog tool, and should be available to all users today.

Plus, Quora has built a nifty mobile rich-text editor for the iPhone that it will be introducing in the coming weeks, and bringing to Android after that.

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— Gitesh Pandya of comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”