Asking Questions on Quora: The Guidelines

Quora CEO Adam D'Angelo
Quora CEO, Adam D’Angelo

Quora is a popular question-and-answer forum that was founded in 2009. It was created by Adam D’Angelo after he left Facebook for a second time, and quickly became a popular site for tech experts to interact with each other and ask/answer questions. In 2010, Mark Zuckerberg acquired the startup NextStop after someone recommended him to do so on Quora. Since then, Quora has grown to have over 200 million unique monthly users. This is quite incredible growth for a website, especially one that is not technically a social media platform (though it has some features that do make it feel like a social network).

I recently started using Quora and fell in love with it. It is so much fun to go onto their website and answer random questions. The four main areas I answer questions are Star Wars, history, marketing, and libertarianism/classical liberalism. I got pretty lucky on the first day I was using Quora when I gave an answer that ended up getting 2.9 thousand views and 168 upvotes. The answer was about the existence of lightwhips in the Star Wars universe, which is a completely trivial and non-important question (but an interesting one).

Though I love answering questions, it takes me a long time to find a good question. I know there is the phrase “there is no such thing as a dumb question”, but I think people only say this so others don’t feel discouraged from asking any questions at all. Go on to Quora for five minutes and I dare you to tell me that “there is no such thing as a dumb question”.

With this, I wanted to provide some guidelines on what I think is a good question on Quora. These aren’t necessarily “rules” that have to be followed, but more guidelines for the kind of questions that I like to answer and that I like to browse the answers for:

Don’t Ask a “Google Question” 

google question
Example of a Google Question

A Google question is one that can be answered in less than 5 seconds with a Google search. These are my biggest pet peeves on the website because it is obvious to me that these are people that are posting questions for the sake of posting questions instead of being genuinely curious. Think of questions like this: “What year was the Declaration of Independence written?” This question has such a cut and dry answer that will show up as preview text on Google’s search results. Just use Google for these kinds of questions.

Have Good Scope for Your Question

Ask a question that can be reasonably answered in 1 – 10 paragraphs. This is not so much for the sake of the people answering, but for the sake of the people reading the answers. A lot of times I will see a question with incredibly wide scope on Quora that ends up being answered in 3 paragraphs. Unfortunately, the answer is full of unproven assumptions and misinformation because it could only truly be answered in an entire book (or even book series). Think of questions like this: “What happened during the American revolution?” This question is so wide. Try to make your questions more concise with a reasonable scope like “what significant events happened in Rhode Island during the American revolution?”

Ask Questions that Have an Answer

ice-cream-2717489_1280
Best Ice Cream Flavor?

This one may seem obvious to some, but just looking at Quora you would know its not. With this, think of questions that are purely subjective and have no resounding answer. I have seen so many people post questions like “What is the best ice cream flavor ever?” Obviously there is no correct answer to this question.

Don’t Ask “What If” Questions

My annoyance with “what if” questions is kind of a combination of the third and second guidelines I have posted above. Since I like to look at history questions, this is one that I see frequently. For this, think of a question like “What if Adolf Hitler was never born?” For one, there is a correct answer to this question, but there is no way a human being could ever possibly know the answer to it (no matter how much research he put into it). Second, the scope of this question is massive, and if a human being could hypothetically answer this question, it would take books and books to answer it.

Be Wary of Political Questions

Politics is actually one of the areas I like to explore in Quora, but I see a lot of questions that I find utterly useless. When writing a political question on Quora, ask something specific and not self-serving. I frequently see questions like “Why is libertarianism the best political philosophy?” or “Who has a better philosophy: classical liberals or modern liberals?” The first one is complete self-service. I have no doubts it was written by someone that wasn’t that curious in the answer because they were already convinced of something. The second one is interesting, but I don’t think you should expect to get a very interesting answer. You will only get partisans on both sides explaining what makes their philosophy best with bad examples and arguments against the opposing side. When writing a political question on Quora just ask yourself a couple things: Are you genuinely curious about the answer? Do you actually expect to get a good answer for it that won’t be partisan talking points?

Most of these guidelines revolve around things you shouldn’t do, but that is because the list of things you shouldn’t do is much shorter than the things you should do. For questions, possibilities are basically endless, but the goal of the question should be being useful!

Here are some examples of good questions:

  • “Are there lightwhips in Star Wars cannon? If so, what are the examples?”
  • “What are some ways Pinterest be used to grow my business’ brand?”
  • “Is Facebook dying? Is #deletefacebook having successful results?”
  • “What are examples of propaganda used in the American Revolution?”
  • “Is Catholicism compatible with Classical Liberalism?”
opinionated
Ask Opinion Questions!

I want to make it clear that the third guideline about “asking questions that have answers” is not to discourage you from asking more opinion based questions. It is alright to ask an opinion based question, and I actually think that is the best part about Quora (rather than just looking up the answer on a search engine). Though, there is a difference between asking the question “What is the best ice cream flavor?”, which is completely based on personal preferences and tastes, and asking the question “Is Facebook dying?”, which certainly has opinion involved but can be informed in-part with some solid information or data.

Hopefully this will help users make Quora a better and more informative place to be! Happy questioning.

Follow me on Quora for excellent questions and answers!

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Top 5 Snapshot History Posts

On November 15, I started a new project called Snapshot History. I created this page to share the story of us on a daily basis. However, not all the posts get the same kind of engagement. Actually, some really surprise me! Seemingly out of nowhere a post can take off. Let’s take a look at the pages top performing posts since it has been created:

5. Ronald Reagan is inaugurate/Iranian hostages released (January 20)

reagan hostage history

“37 years ago today, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President of the United States. As he is inaugurated, 52 American hostages were released by Iran that were held for 444 days.”

4. Arthur Guinness dies (January 23)

arthur guinness history

“215 years ago today, Arthur Guinness dies in Dublin, Ireland. Arthur Guinness was the founder of the Guinness Brewery. His red signature can still be found on Guinness products today.”

3. ACLU is founded (January 20)

ACLU history

98 years ago today, the American Civil Liberties Union is founded from the National Civil Liberties Bureau. They now have a membership of 1.2 million members. (Picture is of Helen Keller, a founding member of the ACLU)”

2. Rasputin is born (January 21)

rasputin history

“149 years ago today, Grigori Rasputin is born in Siberia. Rasputin was a Russian mystic that was known for having a precarious sexual life and control over the Russian royal family.”

1. Johnny Cash performs at Folsom State Prison (January 13)

johnny cash history

“50 years ago today, Johnny Cash performs at Folsom State Prison. The performance was recorded and became the top selling country album, as well as in the general top 15 albums nationwide.”

Like what you see? Follow Snapshot History on Facebook and Instagram.

Top 10 Pinball Games

There is nothing more rewarding than a great pinball game. The lights, the noises, and all the moving pieces are perfect for making it feel like you are actually accomplishing something important. However, not all pinball machines are created equally. Actually, some just piss you off! We all know that feeling when a pinball machine has a ramp perfectly angled to always go down the middle of the alley. It doesn’t feel good.

I have been playing pinball for a longtime, and my father and I have been going to the Rocky Mountain Pinball Showdown every year since I was seven years old. So basically I am pro. Well, not quite. Compared to some of the players there, I am terrible, but I can always beat out my friends in a good game.

So here is my list of top 10 pinball games:

10. Star Wars Episode 1 Pinball

starwars episode 1

9. World Cup Soccer

worldcup

8. Metallica

metallica

 

7. Joust

joust

  • Manufacturer: Williams Electronics
  • Difficulty: Easy (though depends on who you are playing against)
  • See some game play here!

6. Revenge from Mars

revenge

5. Pirates of the Caribbean

pirates

4. The Simpsons Pinball Party

simpsonspinball

3. Funhouse

FunhouseOriginalPlayfieldUpper

2. The Hobbit

thehobbit

1. Attack from Mars

attack-from-mars-pinball-machine-backglass

Why I Created Snapshot History

My entire life I have had a passion for stories. Stories are incredibly powerful. They shape how we view the world, how we live our lives, and who we want to be. Stories can come in many in many formats- books, comics, video games, and movies. However, there is one particular story that really stands out- the story of humanity or the story of us.
This story stands out because it is true, yet unbelievable. The things humans have done are awe inspiring. We have done horrifying things that have destroyed the lives of many others. We have done things that are inspiring and heart lifting that makes you feel proud. And, most importantly, we have done things that are interesting, weird, and noteworthy.
This page was created to help tell that story, though only in small pieces. We are all busy contributing to the story every single day, which is why Snapshot History is meant to connect you to the chapters that have preceded us while keeping it simple and quick. I hope you enjoy the content that is published on this page, and I hope it gives you a glimpse at the amazing human story!
snapshotexample

Top 5 Board Games to Stay Up All Night With

Board games are probably one of my favorite ways to connect with my friends. However, board games are a bit expensive, and getting the right one can be daunting. Should I pay $40 for the card building game or should I pay $20 for the social deduction game?

I am hoping this brief list will give you some help when deciding your next board game.

5. Fluxx

Fluxx

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Players: 2-6
  • Time: Short (3-20 Minutes)
  • Type: Card game, competitive

This is a simple and fun card game. The rules are so simple that game instructions suggest you just start playing the game (if there is someone else in the group has played) instead of reading through the rules. This game has a ton of different versions, and the base game is not necessary, as each deck is a full game and the game decks aren’t designed to mix. Each game deck is essentially the same game with a different theme and sometimes special card types. I, personally, recommend the Pirate Fluxx deck or the Monty Python Fluxx deck.

The game rules and objectives not only change every game, but they can change just about any turn. However, no matter the rules or the objective of the game, there are always 5 main types of cards (and sometimes special cards depending on the deck):

  1. Rule cards
  2. Goal cards
  3. Action cards
  4. Keeper cards
  5. Creeper cards

At the beginning, the rules always start as draw one card and play one card, and you start with a hand of three cards. Depending on what you play each turn, you can change the rules of the game (sometimes to make it so you can draw more cards each turn or play more cards each turn), change or establish the goal of the game, play a keeper card (which combinations of these are what is listed on the goal card), or play a creeper card (which keeps you from winning the game).

This game is sure to create laughs, and is super quick! Though, it doesn’t quite have the same addictive qualities as some of the games below

4. Forbidden Island

forbidden island

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Players: 2-4
  • Time: Short (15-20 minutes)
  • Type: Treasure hunt, board (kind of), cooperative

This is a great introduction to cooperative games. Not a lot of people have played cooperative board games before, as there aren’t many classic games that are cooperative, but this is really easy to understand.

Essentially your board is a collection of cards that represent different areas on an island. The island is slowly flooding, and you and your friends need to collect all the treasure on the island before it floods. To do this, you collect cards throughout the game that help you unlock the treasures.

It is good to start this game at a low difficulty just to understand the ropes, however in order for the game to be repayable you will most likely need to increase the difficulty of the game, otherwise it will get far too easy.

There is also other expansions for this game, like Forbidden Desert. Forbidden Desert is a little bit more complicated than Forbidden Island, however I think they have about the same entertainment value. Great to go round after round with the friends and fine tune your perfect strategy!

3. Small World

small-world-[2]-1910-p

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Players: 2-5
  • Time: Depends on the group size. Ranges from 25 to 45 minutes.
  • Type: Board, land conquest, competitive

This game is never not a blast. Imagine Risk, but quicker, more light-hearted, and not about to destroy lifelong friendships. The setting of small world is a small ass world where you are competing with a number of races for the most territory. At the end of each turn, your territories are counted and you receive that number of victory tokens (race buffs can give you more). The goal of the game is to get the most victory tokens.

The weird twist of this game is that you don’t only play one race. Your race will explode out into the world, but, at some point, due to lack of forces you will be unable to spread out your race any further. At this point, you will have to put your race into decline in which you cannot control them anymore, and you choose a new race to explode into the world! Sometimes you can control a race for one turn, sometimes you can control a race for 4 turns. It just depends what your strategy is!

I have not found someone that doesn’t fall in love with this game. The last time I played this with someone, they immediately went out to buy the game the next day.

You can also play Small World on Steam!

2. Dominion

dominion

  • Difficulty: Moderate-Hard
  • Players: 2-4 (can get more with expansions. Plus I find that the you can easily just add in players to this game with a few tweaks to rules)
  • Time: Long (30-60 minutes)
  • Type: Deck building, competitive

I feel for this game what many people seem to feel for Settlers of Catan. This is without a doubt my bread and butter game. In this game, you slowly build a deck from a selection of power up cards, victory cards, and money. With the deck you build, you can do bad ass combinations that are sure to devastate your opponents.

Though, this game is a little bit complex, hence why I am not even attempting to get into the rules of this game. However, the rules are logical and the cards themselves guide you through the game quite a bit.

This game has a ton of expansions, and I would be lying if I said I even knew what all of them are. Out of them, I have played the base game, Intrigue, Empires, and Seaside. I wasn’t a big fan of Seaside when I played it, but I love Intrigue and Empires! You can combine the expansion decks however you like, however the rules come with some recommendations for card combinations for newer players.

You can try out the base game for free online!

1. Secret Hitler

secret hitler2

  • Difficulty: Super easy
  • Players: 5-10
  • Time: 10-30 minutes (really just depends how much you and your friends want to talk)
  • Type: Social deduction, teams (competitive and cooperative)

Imagine mafia, like the game you play around a campfire, but simpler. This is easily my favorite game to play with my friends. It is a social deduction game so the most important aspect of the game is how you interact with the people you are playing with. At the beginning of the game, everyone is assigned a party affiliation (either fascist or liberal), and one of the fascists is also Hitler. At no point in the game are you allowed to show people the cards you were assigned, but you can tell them anything you want. However, fascists know who the other fascists are.

You are not disallowed from sharing any kind of information you may know with other players, but at no point could you ever fully know if a person is lying or not. The game progresses by the President (goes around the table one by one) and the Chancellor (nominated by the president and then voted on by everyone at the table) choosing policy cards. There are only two types of policy cards: fascist or liberal. There are a few ways teams can win, but the objective of the game is to get as many of your alignment policy cards enacted as possible.

Essentially everyone poses as a liberal and you try to figure out who the fascists are based on cards that are being played and what the characters are saying.

You can play for free by getting the game rules and printing out these cards on the game creators website. Thank you, Goat, Wolf, and Cabbage!

I Knew You Were Howard Dean When You Walked In

I made this a while ago, but I only posted it on Facebook. So I thought I would share it!