Quora, a relatively new question-and-answer search engine that’s become a darling of the tech community, is suffering through growing pains caused by exponential growth in the past two weeks. And co-founder Charlie Cheever has outlined some of the company’s plans to deal with those growing pains.
In a post today on Quora, Cheever admits that it’s been “a big challenge” to maintain Quora’s character while the site has been flooded with new users. How much growth has the site seen? Quora engineer Albert Sheu shared a chart showing two recent spikes — one right after Christmas and another right after the new year.
Sheu described the first spike as accounting for “5-10 times more activity on the site than usual,” while the post-New Year boom added twice as many new accounts as the first spike.
Quora launched publicly last June, and grew to be known and appreciated by a small group of mostly tech industry insiders. But its recent growth has slowed the site down — considerably at times — and also added hundreds of thousands of new users into the ecosystem. Sheu’s post offered some details about how Quora is dealing with technical issues and scalability, while Cheever today addressed the community issues:
This isn’t an easy problem at all, and the solution isn’t going to be one big change that makes everything perfect; it’s going to take a lot of little things that add up and make a difference.
One thing we’re trying to do a better job ASAP on is educating the new users that join the site and getting them up to speed on the policies, guidelines, and conventions as quickly as possible.
One immediate change is that new users are now given a tutorial-style quiz before posting their first question. Cheever says Quora has also changed how the homepage “feed” works and how notifications are sent to users. He says Quora plans to focus in the coming months on
- educating new users
- improving the feed and voting tools
- “changing the core product” to deal with the influx of new users and more Q&A
- creating new tools for admins
It’s a fine balancing act that any successful community site has to face: how to keep your core, longtime users happy while still being welcoming to new users who may change the nature of the community itself. Quora’s long-term value as an answer engine will depend on how it manages this early growth.