My Quora Story: and the Power of Incremental Action



I was a little late to the party. If not late, then, a late bloomer.

Quora is a social network of sorts—a question—and-answer platform whose slogan is, “The best answer for any question.”  Founded back in 2010, it includes luminaries such as Barack Obama to Dilbert comic creator Scott Adams to UC Berkeley physics professor Richard Muller and many, many others who meet to answer questions about specific topics at which they have expertise or a unique point of view.

It’s been described as the platform for geeks—not surprising, since it started back in Silicon Valley—that skews male, and tech.

There are a lot of photographers, journalists and others using the platform to gain answers to extreme hypothetical questions they have “What would happen if I poured a huge bucket of water on our sun” to the more mundane, “What advice can you give an 18-year-old” to topical: “What is your reaction to Trump winning the US election.”

My buddy Scott turned me on to the platform a few years ago, but I just set it aside and checked in from time to time. I enjoyed lurking, but wouldn’t commit the time to actually answering questions.

Then, last year, I had a surgery that waylaid me for about a month at the beginning of the year. I started surfing Quora, and found that I had a lot of questions that I could give answers to. My background is both as a print and photo-journalist, and I love to write.   It seemed a natural fit. I had only three unwritten rules: One, I wouldn’t ‘tag team’ on a topic, just parroting what others had already answered. In other words, I had to actually have helpful information and a point of view so that I could add to the discourse and not add to the noise. Two, I wouldn’t answer lazy questions that could have been answered just by the questioner taking two seconds to type it into Google: “How much does a Nikon whatever cost new?”  Three, I would answer no questions from people listing themselves as “anonymous” unless the question itself actually called for anonymity.

If I put myself out there in a consistent way—daily—that incremental efforts would produce exponential results.

With that as a start, and with less than 4,000 total views back in January of 2016, I started to read, choose and answer questions to the best of my ability. I thought it would be cool if I could get to 100,000 views by the end of the year.

Imagine my surprise when, on Dec. 31, 2016, my views ended up north of 300,000. Along the way, I learned a profound truth: if I put myself out there in a consistent way—daily—that incremental efforts would produce exponential results. This was not an effort related to my commercial photography business, or any desire to launch a bigger platform. It was just a daily, quiet way to share and engage a larger audience with my own experiences and point of view.

This then, are my top five posts (in terms of total views) for the entire year of 2016. I hope you enjoy:

  1.  What is the best photography tip you can teach me?
  2. What is the best thing to do in your 20s?
  3. What are some amazing historical photos?
  4. If a policeman tells me I can’t film him, am I required to “obey a policeman’s lawful order”?
  5. What is the best photo ever taken of you and why do you think it’s the best?   (Ironically, I don’t enjoy having my picture taken…but I do love this one).


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