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Quora API Shows Its Social Ambitions

Posted on 07 Feb 2011 by - Permanent link Trackback this post Subscribe to this post Comment on this post -  

Quora log

The digiterati’s latest Internet fad darling, question and answer site Quora has received a lot of attention over recent weeks, much of it focussed around Robert Scoble.’s exploration of the service. I don’t want to go into detail, but Robert used Quora as a social service and got a little egg on his face. Here’s a quick recap:

The Silicon Valley soap opera is fun for a short time, but it doesn’t tell us much about where the service is headed.

Some Technical Info Appears

Thankfully, engineers working at Quora are answering technical questions pertaining to the service. Phil Whelan has collated several and put together an amazing post about Quora’s technology stack (seriously, go read it - Oli Young called it porn for web devs).

On the custom software side of the equation, Adam d’Angelo has answered a question about the answering ranking algorithm on Quora. There are no big surprises but note how votes from users that have written good answers in the past carry more weight - users are assigned a quality score.

An API

The announcement of an API aimed at browser extension developers made things even more socially focussed.

The API is still very much embryonic - it only has a single method at the time of writing. The only thing we can do with the API right now is get information about the current user (assuming he/she is logged in).

Quora promise to add to the API later but I think it’s telling that their first offering is aimed at people not questions.

RSS Feeds Too?

From the Quora FAQ:

We now have RSS support for user profile pages, user question pages, user answer pages, topic pages, and topic best questions pages.

That is three out of five feeds that are user-centric - more evidence of a social direction for the site. Further API methods are likely to follow the feeds.

Can/Should Quora Get More Social?

There is plenty of scope for the platform to integrate more social features without being sidetracked by "social media gurus".

Quora could add analyse a user’s questions and recommend people to follow. Then it could offer a private Q&A session with industry thought leaders (for a fee, of course). Users with a answer greater quality score could command a higher fee, or get first pick of the relevant requests.

If the quality score really works, there would be little reward for fakers.

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