Which service is generating the most Buzz these days? Unfortunately, not Google Buzz.
In a succinct and well-argued post, Robert Scoble asked if Quora is the biggest blogging innovation in 10 years. I think it is more than that. Quora is becoming the go-to place for having intelligent conversations on any topic. This is what FriendFeed once aspired to be, with Google Buzz following in its footsteps.
Scoble pointed out:
Fifth, they learned from FriendFeed, Digg, and other systems that let you vote up things. If you watch a question that has a lot of engagement you’ll even see votes roll in live. It’s very addictive.
What is also important is what Quora learned from the mistakes that FriendFeed and Google Buzz made and how it circumvented them.
First, Google Buzz adopted the FriendFeed aggregation model, and failed to KISS. Quora avoided aggregation altogether. It has kept it simple, stupid.
Second, Quora avoided what Scoble called “The Chat Room/Forum Problem”. Tons of people chiming in with their 2 cents and devolving the ‘conversation’ into a flame war problem. Google Buzz faced it and didn’t learn from FriendFeed. The flip side? Quora Admins are moderating the site, which will lead to a few complaints. There’s a price to pay if you want to keep a high signal-to-noise ratio.
Third, Quora has understood and respected the fine line between designing for influencers and early-adopters. There is no way for a handful of influencers to dominate the service completely overshadowing others.
Fourth, the Social Graph built on the Follow model provides Serendipity, but it is complemented by the Interest Graph based on Following Topics, thus providing Personalization. Quora gets close to achieving Personalized Serendipity, the hottest space in the startup scene today.
Fifth, for Quora, Relevance is the most important guiding principle. When you follow someone whose tech opinions you respect, your feed isn’t unexpectedly filled with their kids pictures voted up by their adoring fans. The Interest Graph overrules the Social Graph. Pure Signal, No Noise. There is no other service on the web today with such a high signal-to-noise ratio, period.
Will Quora appeal to mainstream users? Among all the Q&A Services out there, if anyone of them goes mainstream, I think there’s a good chance it will be Quora. If you haven’t done so yet, join the conversation! You can follow me on Quora here, if you like.