If you follow techies in the Twittersphere, you know that hundreds of thousands of people on the Internet have met, fallen in love with and married Quora, the hottest startup question-and-answer scene.
The Wall Street Journal just discovered Quora, however, and did not fall in love: “I found it uninviting, geeky and poorly explained,” Katherine Boehret writes in the course of a lengthy review.
Conventional wisdom says that people prefer figuring new things out as they go over reading directions, which is why intuitive user design is so important. Ms. Boehret did not find Quora intuitive.
The site lacks instructions on how to use it; people just have to figure it out as they go. For example, a newcomer might not know that Quora answers can be voted up or down by seeing two tiny triangles that appear beside each answer. If I select the up triangle, this indicates I voted for that answer, and news of this vote is shared on the Quora home page of anyone who follows me. A number beside each answer indicates how many votes it has received so far. But unless you’ve used the site for a while, you wouldn’t know any of this.
Unless you had ever used Reddit, Digg, Delicious, Yahoo Answers, that is!
Maybe we’re just in a bubble here with others who spend more than eight hours a day on the Internet, but we know we can’t believe everything we read on websites:
One thing to be wary of: There’s nothing that qualifies the most popular answers as accurate, nor do people who write the most popular answers necessarily qualify as experts. This could lead to confusion or even danger, like medical questions that are answered incorrectly.
Sorry to riff on you, Ms. Boehret. It looks like you did your homework for this article and tried really hard to use Quora. We just don’t like it when you talk about our wife like that.
ajeffries [at] observer.com | @adrjeffries