In a nutshell: from the following observations as well as seeing the response to my only Quora answer so far, I feel that Quora is a place for conformism, not critical thinking.
It’s been maybe a week since I have been browsing Quora content.. and I had begun to really like that place.. extensive topics, their voting and credit system and so on.. Highly sensible design decisions, well oriented towards the question asking, reading and answering. Quite enjoyable. [That alone should have set the alarms ringing in my head]
( For months before that, I had been largely ignoring all the Quora posts that keep coming on the Facebook news feed. Even when a question that prodded my curiosity came along, I would ignore their ‘login to view’ banner and read off the answer from the page source.. just to deny them the satisfaction of having coerced another user to register. Quite juvenile, maybe.. but I have redressed that now, finally. )
So yes, Quora as an experience is quite popularly enjoyable. And then I realized.. Enjoyable? Discovering the truth and coming to terms with it can hardly be considered an enjoyable process for the masses. I thought the quest for truth is supposed to be an unexpected, uncomfortable journey, with many more questions and blurry brainstorming, than answers that are confidently upvoted and reinforced over time.
So then, what is Quora doing, if not exposing people to discomforting facts and perspectives? Well, creating less questions and many more answers. Of which the ‘right’ one will get upvoted, is how one expects that system to work. Thus, this system is not really meant to work for open-ended questions that may have no right answer yet.
(My answer so far has neither been voted up or down, nor received any response, favourable or otherwise. Ignored? Well.. so much for critical thinking. Especially since I think my answer does expose the readers to a very different facet of the original question. Isn’t that supposed to unguide us away from our own localized views? )
What I would like to see is the Quora credit system turn around on its head.. a place where you get to ask as many questions as you want for free, and you will earn credits if people upvote your question, because it means that your question provokes something they either don’t know already, and/or consider to be worth critical thinking or discussion. How would people’s answers be credited? Not sure; maybe pay-to-respond. So, only if you have asked enough good original questions, would you be able to respond. This mechanism seems quite harsh at the moment. So again.. not sure about this.