Caution, lurkers. Quora Views shows who is reading posts

Quora, a question and answers popular with Silicon Valley insiders, has rolled out a new “Views” feature, so users can publicly see who is reading their posts and where they found them.

The product update, announced on Quora’s blog today, enables users to see how many views each post, question or answer, has received. The click down list (pictured below) shows the names and pictures of users who read each post, starting with followers.

The update is a smart move as a means to monetize the site, considering that Quora is primarily used as a way to build a network around shared interests, promote expertise, and link companies and executives with a certain topic. For instance, it’s a strategic move for Cloudera that the founder, Jeff Hammerbacher, is consistently ranked one of the “top answerers” on the topic of Big Data.

From a professional standpoint, it’s valuable information to know who’s reading your stuff. It’s reminiscent of LinkedIn’s move to publicly show users who is checking out their profile, with premium users granted more access. This may prove to be a strong money-maker for Quora, which will be looking for sources of revenue after raising $50 million in May.

This new feature may put an end to passive, online lurking, as it makes public the simple act of reading a post. As one Quora user, Jonathan Brill, succinctly put it in his answer to the blog post: “Does this mean that all the people I’m Quora-stalking will see that now? Awkward.” (Brill amassed 20 upvotes for this comment.)

However, Quora users can turn off the Views features anytime on the settings page to continue to peruse the site anonymously.