Quora's First Verified User Is President Barack ObamaMarch 24, 2014
by Jeff Bercovici
Whatever else he’s remembered for, Barack Obama will go down in history as the American president who most expanded the definition of what constitutes a venue for presidential influence. Sure, Bill Clinton played sax on “Arsenio Hall.” But he never appeared on “Between Two Ferns” or did an AMA on Reddit.
Today, President Obama adds another one to the list: He’s joining Quora as the inaugural member of its new Verified Accounts program. The president will be answering two questions about the Affordable Care Act as part of a campaign to draw attention to his signature legislative accomplishment — a.k.a. Obamacare — before the deadline for purchasing insurance arrives on March 31.
For a platform whose central premise is using crowdsourcing to deliver authoritative answers, letting users know that sources are who they say they are is a natural step. Quora will use a similar blue check mark to the one that Twitter and Facebook use to certify verified accounts.
Other celebrity Quora users who’ve already been verified include Sheryl Sandberg, Ashton Kutcher, Jeremy Lin, Reed Hastings, Craig Newmark, Cory Booker and Mark Cuban. “In terms of who gets [the verified check], we’ve basically used a commonsense framework for thinking about what is an individual who has a big presence in the public sphere,” says Alex Wu, Quora’s head of product marketing and partnerships.
Adding some star power to the platform could help boost Quora’s traffic. According to comScore figures for the U.S., the site has averaged only around 2 million unique visitors across platforms over the past year. (Quora does have a huge audience overseas, especially in India.)
A thread on Quora may not have the dynamic, unmediated feeling of a live Twitter chat or a Reddit AMA. But where real-time discussions tend to lose currency quickly after the moment passes, Quora answers are designed to be evergreen, part of an ever-expanding corpus of long-tail knowledge, says Wu. Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo recently said that 80% of visits to a typical answer take place a month or more after the answer has been posted.