If Silicon Valley Isn’t Like High School, Quora Certainly Is

Oh my god I love your skirt where did you get it?

Mr. Cheever (Photo: Quora)

Following the recent announcement that Quora cofounder Charlie Cheever will be taking a backseat role at the company, something of a revolution has begun to foment at the question and answer site so popular among the Valley’s elite. For a platform which purports to embrace openness and honesty as its core ethos, its own staff has not been particularly forthcoming about Mr. Cheever’s departure.

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Social Times points out that a question about Mr. Cheever’s status at the company was answered by Quora’s other founder, Adam D’Angelo. Users immediately called Mr. D’Angelo out for his disingenuous reply, which was bathed in a thick coat of PR BS. One such indictment–posted by another startup founder–even garnered more upvotes than the original response.

Could Mr. Cheever’s departure and the subsequent user backlash be a signal for what’s ahead at Quora? Social Times kicks around a variety of theories about what’s up at the startup, from a potentially imminent acquisition to flailing user adoption due to the site’s inability to scale.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on Quora, the mean girling and cattiness becomes evident pretty quickly, and nothing turns off new users more than a powerful cabal of close-minded insiders. Doesn’t anyone remember why Gawker initiated that whole commenting overhaul? Writes the Times:

Quora still exists primarily in its Silicon Valley echo chamber. The users who wield the most power seem intent on keeping it that way. Too often, once users outside that inner circle begin to make a mark — such as garnering deserved up votes too easily, or by questioning methodology and moderation — a backlash quickly ensues.  The less powerful users find themselves down voted to the point of having their answers collapsed into oblivion.  Then, they are aggressively pursued and forced to defend their subsequent contributions.

Social Times makes a convincing argument that Quora can’t scale because it doesn’t want to change the platform’s negative dynamics, and in fact is working against the best interests of its own site. Upvotes to that.

If Silicon Valley Isn’t Like High School, Quora Certainly Is