Quora takes aim at Wikipedia with new topic pages & trending topics

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Social network Quora made some interesting additions to its service today in an attempt to become the Internet’s go-to place for detailed information about any topic.

Quora is a service that allows people to ask each other questions based on a certain topic, or randomly. More or less, the site functions sort of like a more advanced version of a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). Over the last year, the site has gone from about 70,000 topics to over 250,000 spread out over five different categories as well as notable contributors like 2012 Republican Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan.

Currently, Wikipedia is the world’s preferred destination for online encyclopedias, but Quora would like to change that. The startup has simplified its “Topics Pages” to look more like Wikipedia articles. Each topic page is now split up into four different sections: A feed of most popular information, A questions tab showcasing all the questions asked on the topic, an about tab that serves as an overview of the topic, and a “Manage” tab that allows you to see all overall changes made to the page. Quora is also adding a Trending Topics feed on its homepage to help unearth some of the entries that’s getting read across the web.

In terms of usability (on the contribution end), Quora clearly beats the crap out of Wikipedia, which is far more difficult to edit and maintain– especially if one of Wikipedia’s power users deems your contribution as irrelevant/useless/incorrect/etc.  And this hasn’t been much of a deterrent for Wikipedia editors, since most contributions come from a relatively small pool of people. Everyone else is happy to simply absorb the information via well-sourced Wikipedia articles. Quora, on the other hand, has plenty of notable contributors but it has yet to fully catch on with communities well outside of the tech world. However, these new changes to its topics pages could certainly fix that.

And while the changes to Quora’s topic pages should increase interest in the site, I doubt it’ll overtake Wikipedia anytime soon. Quora is more of a service that fills in the gaps left by a (semi-) properly maintained professional database of information.

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