One of the core tenets at Stack Exchange is that it doesn’t make sense to start a Q&A site unless you’ve got a critical mass of experts ready to answer queries. Now the company is using some of the $12 million it just raised to send its users to out into the real world for some continuing education.
“This is really what distinguishes us from our horizontal competitors whose names begin with Q,” says founder Joel Spolsky. “They are trying to do everything all at once. There is no possible way to get all the cartographers, or auto mechanics or any group on Quora to feel like they own a certain topic area, and to be committed to making it great.”
Critical mass on a certain domain might just mean ten or fifteen people who are particularly dedicated to the topic. As Quora has opened its doors beyond the initial user base of start-up employees and venture capitalists, it has run into problems getting users oriented and keeping the quality of its responses high.
The difference shows in the answer rate. Take these broad topic areas with a ton of activity on both sites: