Even Quora Can't Answer "How Many People Use Quora?"

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The Rise Of The Gentleman Hacker

Q&A site Quora is officially reticent about sharing usage metrics which leads Quora fans to make some interesting calculations and guestimations. In fact there’s a fascinating topic section on Quora called “Quora usage and statistics” that attempts to parse all Quora related minutae from “Who has the most edits? to “How much time does it take for a question to come in” to “What’s the longest Quora answer?” to yes, “How many people use Quora?”

The quest for some definite Quora analytics has gone so far that one enthusiastic Quora fan and TechCrunch reader has attempted to plot Quora’s growth by looking at the unique user ID numbers in its source code and plotting them against when Quora follower emails were sent as well as when specific questions were asked, compiling the data into the two graphs above and below.

Going by code IDs alone the user graph and the one plotting Quora questions look pretty accurate at about 320K users and 110K questions to date. A new user ID # on an account I created today registered me as Quora user #319,848 and the source code ID of the latest question asked is at #111,416.

When asked about these bootleg ways of determining metrics, Quora CEO Adam D’ Angelo disparaged the validity of their methodology, “User ids don’t correspond to total # of users. In the early days they did, but we changed the way our databases work at one point (all evidence points to a month ago) and since then they’re not the same.”

The gist? Somewhere between when this was posted and November 2nd Quora changed the way it recorded user ID numbers rendering all UID related metrics a mystery. D’Angelo did not comment on whether the 110K questions statistic was accurate.

Angelo also disputes the Compete numbers many cite as reason to believe that Quora’s biggest spike was in September and that the site has since then suffered a subsequent dip. According to Compete, Quora hit a record high of 210, 938 unique visits in September, only to drop down to 94,443 in October. Says D’Angelo, “Compete is wrong, there is no dip in usage for October or November. Our growth is steady and we had our biggest day of usage on Tuesday.”

Judging from the spate of “———— is now following you on Quora,” emails I’ve received in the past couple of days that sounds about right, even though the site still probably isn’t anywhere close to StackOverflow’s 10 million monthly uniques in terms of traffic.

Well, at least we know that the most popular question on Quora is “What is the most useful, shortest and most generally applicable piece of wisdom you know?” to which the top answer is “Always improve” or “Breathe” depending on what you’re looking for. Which is why we keep coming back.

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