Quora makes answers embeddable for easier use by journalists

The social question-and-answer website Quora released a new feature today that makes it easier for journalists and other publishers to quote from the expert answers posted on the network. Just highlight specific text in an answer and click the “embed quote” button, or go to the bottom of the answer and click the “embed” link to grab the whole thing. The popup provides an embed code to paste into your story.

Read more

1 Comment

New York Times journalists to hold ‘office hours’ on Quora

Three New York Times journalists are using the question-and-answer site Quora to engage with readers about their recently published books, Times Associate Managing Editor Jim Schachter wrote today. Schachter also said in the comments that this is a test. He followed up by email to say “We’ll have to see how it goes before we would even think about embedding Quora on NYTimes.com.” The series kicks off tomorrow with Diana Henriques answering questions from 3 to 4 p.m. EST about her Bernie Madoff book “Wizard of Lies.” Gretchen Morgenson and Adam Bryant will follow in the coming weeks. ReadWriteWeb’s Marshall Kirkpatrick offers early praise:

“Very nice idea. The rest of us get to see the Q&A go down in real time, with all the interest data and social recommendations on topics that user accounts carry with them. Verified identities. Will questions and answers get voted up and down? Will this be embedded in the NYT site? Such a cool idea.”

Earlier: 6 ways journalists can use Quora Read more


6 ways journalists can use Quora as tool to report, share ideas

Quora, the fast-growing question and answer site, has become increasingly popular among journalists.

In a phone interview, Quora co-founder Adam D’Angelo attributed the site’s recent growth to an increase in media coverage and traffic from Twitter, among other factors. Because the site auto-follows users’ Facebook and Twitter accounts, it makes sense that its user-base would spread quickly once a few influencers begin using it.

“Originally when we built the site, we didn’t have new users automatically follow all their Twitter contacts,” said D’Angelo, former CTO of Facebook. “But since, in the vast majority of cases, people want to see what their friends are doing on the site, we changed it to automatically follow the people who we can detect that they care about via Twitter/Facebook. This helps growth a bit but it actually wasn’t the reason why we did it.”

Quora has some work to do as it looks for ways to maintain high quality questions and answers. But even despite some of its glitches, the site has potential for journalists who are seeking new ways to find sources, reach targeted audiences and contribute to discussions about their news organizations.

Below, I’ve addressed how Quora is different from some other sites and list six ways that journalists can use it.

Use questions as opportunities for localized content.

Earlier this week, TBD experimented with Quora as part of a community blog feature on local pizza joints. “Looking for good pizza in the Washington, D.C., area?” the piece read. “Here are 13 joints recommended by local users of Quora, a social question-and-answer platform.”

TBD encouraged its users to add their thoughts in the comments section of the story and to the Quora thread. TBD also suggested that readers add the “TBD” topic tag to any local Quora questions that they think TBD should follow.

I like the idea of news orgs asking readers to alert them to interesting questions on Quora. I wonder, though, how effective it is to ask readers to comment on both a story and on Quora. When given two options, wouldn’t readers be inclined to fall back on what’s most familiar? Not necessarily, says TBD Social Media Producer Mandy Jenkins.

“I think with any new and growing tool or technology we may try in our work, we should offer a way for people to participate both inside it and out,” she said via e-mail. “We can introduce ourselves to users within Quora and, on the flip side, introduce our existing readers to a community they may not yet know. We take the same approach with other crowdsourcing projects that rely on outside tools (like Twitter and Crowdmap) as a way to let everyone get involved.”

Find story ideas, sources.

Quora is a good resource for finding out what people are saying about the topics you cover, and what questions they want answered. TechCrunch, for example, has been following Steve Case’s activity on Quora and recently wrote a story based on the AOL co-founder’s response to the question: “How much did it cost AOL to distribute all those CDs back in the 1990′s?

Business Insider also wrote a story about Case’s response, while the San Francisco Chronicle wrote a roundup of Case’s answers to this question and others.

Salon and CNN have also used Quora to quote sources — a practice that journalists are debating. In a related question on Quora, some have said they would “absolutely” quote sources on Quora, while others worry that responses would be taken out of context. I look at Quora in much the same way as Twitter and Facebook; all of these sites are good starting points for finding story ideas and sources, but they shouldn’t replace interviews and deeper reporting.

Checking the validity of sources and finding ways to contact them is easier on Quora than on other question and answer sites, D’Angelo said. “On a lot of these other sites, you have usernames and you can’t figure out who’s behind an answer,” he said. “On Quora, you can click on a link and get back to a Facebook or Twitter page, so if you’re going to source information for a story, that’s really important.”

Shape your interview questions.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler recently used Quora to crowdsource interview questions. In preparation for an interview, he posted this: “What should I (MG Siegler) ask Charlie Cheever about Quora on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt?” A few people responded, giving him a chance to see what others wanted to know about Cheever and tailor his interview accordingly.

You could just as easily ask for suggested questions using Facebook and Twitter. One of the advantages of using Quora is that you can reach a more targeted audience by filing your question under specific topics. For instance, if I had wanted to get journalists’ input on what to ask D’Angelo for this story, I could have searched for “journalists” or “bloggers” and then filed my question under those topics. 

Explore buzz, interest surrounding a topic you’re covering.

When I want to gauge people’s interest in a topic I’m covering, I often link to a related tweet for some context. I could see Quora being used in much the same way. While searching the “journalism” topic on Twitter, I came across this question: “With next to everyone on Twitter and Facebook claiming to be a ‘social media expert,’ what defines SM expertise?

More than two dozen people have responded, making for a lively discussion about what it means to be a “social media expert.” Had this discussion started prior to a story I wrote last month about The New York Times eliminating its social media editor position, it would have been great to reference.

Similarly, in preparation for a Poynter.org chat this Friday, I used Quora to ask: “How should journalists handle errors in tweets?” Quora allows users to edit questions, so the question. Within two hours, the question had generated seven thoughtful responses. The responses gave me some new ideas for the chat, and they helped demonstrate that people care about this topic.

Monitor what people are saying about your news organization.

After NPR’s Andy Carvin joined Quora, he began to see questions about NPR and public radio, so he responded. He and NPR staffer Kate Myers have been using their personal accounts to respond to people’s questions about NPR, such as: “Why doesn’t NPR have a cable TV station?” and “Who chooses the music interludes in NPR programs?” Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr has used Quora to answer questions like this one: “What do the big tech blogs such as TechCrunch or Mashable look for when they hire writers?

It’s easy to search for your news organization and see when it has appeared in questions and answers. It’s not as easy, though, to create an account for your news org. Quora does not yet allow organizational accounts, but may at some point, D’Angelo said.

While there’s nothing preventing a news organization from creating an account, the folks at Quora flag such accounts when they see them. Recently, for instance, they asked The Huffington Post to delete its account. Quora also deleted TBD’s account.

“The next time I went to log in after logging out the day I registered, it was gone,” said TBD’s Jenkins, who set up the account. “I guess Quora cut us off at the pass.”

When asked why Quora doesn’t allow organization accounts, D’Angelo said: “It’s not that we don’t want them. It’s just that we’re a really small company and we just built this product, so we haven’t been able to build support for organizations yet. We have a lot of support for users to show what news org they’re affiliated with, but we want to tie each account to an individual person.”

Share your expertise, give feedback.

How can reporters benefit the Quora community? Joy Mayer, associate professor at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, recently addressed this question on Quora. Mayer pointed out that journalists are subject-matter experts, so it makes sense that they would use the site to share their expertise.

Beat reporters, for instance, could type in the topics they cover and then answer related questions — an exercise that would introduce them to a new community of users and potential sources who share their interests. Journalists have already been using the site this way to share their expertise among themselves.

It’s been encouraging to see journalists give each other feedback when answering questions such as, “How can you increase listenership in public radio?“;”What are the most effective ways to engage news audiences?” and “Should AP style apply to tweets or incorporate Twitter jargon to allow room for retweets?

How could The Poynter Institute use Quora?

Read more

NPR using Instagram for photo sharing, is it the next big thing?

Mashable / Lost Remote

Lauren Indvik reports that NPR’s latest foray into social media utilizes the iPhone photo sharing app Instagram:

“As far as we’re aware, NPR is the first media organization to use Instagram as an official tool for content distribution. ‘Our main focus has always been to go to the places where we believe existing and potential NPR fans are hanging out and give them an outlet to interact with us and our content,’ says Andy Carvin, a senior strategist on NPR’s social media desk.”

Cory Bergman writes that experimenting with new tools is an important job in the newsroom:

“Dedicating a small part of your day to experiment with emerging social services is a great use of time. At the very least, give it a quick spin and reserve your branded account names before someone grabs them — remember Twitter?”

But, Bergman asks, how do you know when to “double down on an experiment, or pull the plug?” He highlights Tumblr, Quora and Reddit as three other services that deserve attention, but how much?

Bergman, a member of Poynter’s National Advisory Board, is exactly right when he says it depends on your goals.

When testing Web tools it is important to view them first as a consumer:

  • Does the service fit a personal need?
  • Is it easy to use?
  • Are you likely to recommend it to a friend?

Twitter met all three of these criteria when I first started playing with it in April 2007. But for use in a business setting, the criteria is a bit stricter:

  • What are the costs involved?
  • How do its features align with your current or future products?
  • Does the service have a growing fan base, or at least loyal users in your current audience?
  • Does it have an API that other developers can utilize to bring more value to the core service?
  • Assuming you attracted an audience, what is the likely return on investment?
  • Do you expect that return to be in traffic, revenue and/or branding?

Justifying the use of Twitter at the time was fairly easy. The service was free and the audience was growing. And, due to its API at the Nashua Telegraph we could use Twitterfeed to post breaking news headlines. So, the support costs were exactly zero.

Not every tool has the same upside as Twitter, but most have the same — free — initial costs. For that price, you can afford to invest an hour or two a week testing out the next “big thing.” Then, odds are you will be ahead of the curve when it hits. Read more


Get the latest media news delivered to your inbox.

Select the newsletter(s) you'd like to receive: