“On Quora you can subscribe to topics, specific answers or people. You’re alerted when people follow you, when the create new questions in your topic area and when new people have answered the questions you’re following.
And the system is really quite smart. First, it has DIGG like voting mechanism where you can vote up or down the quality of an answer. If your objective is to be near the top of an answer stack (e.g. and thus be read by everybody following the topic) then you need a great quality answer. You also need to answer the question reasonably early because when a question has been around for a while the important people aren’t likely to be going back and reading it again (thus they will neither see your answer or vote your up).
So in a way it has built in game mechanics. And they are trying to bake in user adoption into the design of the product. Obviously it is build on a social network “follow people” model that is asymmetric like Twitter. When somebody is new to Quora and is following you it encourages you to “give them topics” to follow, which is clever because if they accept the topics they get more alerts, more emails – more bacn – and thus they come back to the site more frequently.
- Excerpts from Both Sides of the Table.