Leveraging on the success of Quora, niche Q&A sites are popping up everywhere. There’s a Quora for the enterprise, and even a Quora for the legal community. Even Facebook is throwing its hat in the ring with Facebook Questions. Today Kommons is launching as a Q&A site focused on eliciting answers from public figures on Twitter.
The platform sits entirely on top of Twitter, so any question your present or follow on the site is Tweeted out (you sign in with your Twitter credentials). The idea of Kommons is to leverage Twitter to form a crowd around a question to a public figure and use that to pressure public figures to answer. You can see examples from Clay Shirky, Jay Rosen, and Jeff Jarvis.
One distinction founder Cody Brown makes between Kommons and Quora is that every question on Kommons has a distinct target (a public figure) and only that target can answer the question once it is asked. Brown says this contributes to different dynamics on the site. For example, Brown could use Quora to create an open question and get a good set of guesses on who was at Bin 38 for Angelgate but he’d use Kommons to put pressure on those angel investors who were apparently at the meeting to publicly state whether they were there.
Kommons allows you to pose a question to anyone on Twitter and firmly stands by the assertion that nothing posted to the site can ever be deleted. To me, Kommons sounds almost like a way to bully public figures (through social media) to answer a question. I guess another more-benign way to describe the mechanism behind the site is that Kommons crowdsources questions and answers.
Brown says that he still hasn’t figured out the monetization angle yet. But the idea behind Kommons is compelling and it should be interesting to see if the startup can gain a following. Much of the startup’s traction will depend on whether public figures will actually respond to the questions posed by Kommons users.