By Vipul Naik
Cross-posted from Quora
I love Quora: there’s a large amount of valuable content there. High school students, who are just getting onto the Internet and beginning to explore the world of ideas, can learn a lot from Quora. But, despite Quora’s continued growth, many of the people who contacted us at Cognito Mentoring for advice simply hadn’t actively considered joining or using Quora for information. A few of them got more interested in Quora after we pointed them to Quora questions and answers relevant to their specific questions, and they then went on to explore the site to discover more. But it needed prompting from us before they decided to give Quora a try.
On a related note, we’ve got very few people visiting the Cognito Mentoring website through Quora, suggesting that people in high school and early college (who form the bulk of our advisees) aren’t using Quora as much as they can.
In addition to being a great place to learn stuff, I (as well as my collaborator Jonah) also think Quora can be an excellent place for people to start practicing the art of written communication and online interaction in low-stakes but still real-world contexts (as opposed to doing school homework). Even though I had extensive writing experience before joining Quora, I’ve learned about writing and interaction through my Quora participation. The gains for high school students just starting out in the world could be much greater.
In the Less Wrong post What we learned about Less Wrong from Cognito Mentoring advising, I noted that Cognito Mentoring got most of its advisees through Less Wrong, and many of them hadn’t used Quora. Some people in the Less Wrong comments suggested that the requirement on Quora that people sign up before they can fully explore the site is a major barrier to people, particularly young people, joining the site. What do you think? Are there ways of making people in high school more aware of Quora? Helping them overcome the laziness or reluctance to sign up in order to browse the site? Suggestions are welcome.