“If you are not paying for it, you are the product.” To what extent is this true for Quora users?
It would be more accurate to say that the product is the content created by Quora writers, whilst Quora readers are the customer for the advertisers. The content attracts the readers (like bees to a honey pot, which provides the customer base for the advertisers. Quora’s value is derived from providing the means to bring readers, writers, and advertisers together.
To what extend Quora readers and writers are being used by Quora is debatable, since both content providers and readers are free to come and go as they please. One would assume that both writers and readers are also deriving something of value from using Quora, otherwise they would go elsewhere.
From a personal perspective, I find the best way to create content for my blog is to address the questions people are actually asking about my niche subjects (Steampunk and Novel Writing). If I can attract people in my niche market to my blog, they may also become interested in the products I am selling (my novels).
Quora is a platform that provides an endless supply of interesting and intriguing questions, which helps me create original, interesting, and unique content for my blog – hopefully increasing my audience and therefore sales (not quite true since all my novels are free at the moment, but you get the idea).
Also, people who read my answers on Quora are sometimes interested enough to visit my blog to see what else I have to say. They also follow me on Twitter or ‘Friend’ me on Goodreads, which increases my overall audience. In this respect, I am using Quora as much as they are using me. This seems like a win-win situation that I am happy to facilitate.
If you feel used, you should ask yourself what value you derive from using Quora: what does Quora provide that you cannot get from elsewhere.