The people over at Quora have a giant sign in their office that reads, “DEATH TO ALL CONSULTANTS!”.
Just kidding. I completely made that up.
However, the Q&A platform’s newest product, Knowledge Prizes, does provide companies with a legitimate alternative to hiring a consulting firm.
And for those of you with a proficiency for writing great answers to questions, it could make you rich.
How it works
Companies can now “sponsor” questions that they seek answers to and offer hundreds or even thousands of dollars in prize money to whomever they decide provides the best answer.
For example, a company looking to compete with Uber might ask, “What are Uber’s biggest flaws?”
Maybe a company that was recently a victim of a hack sponsors the question, “What’s the best cybersecurity software for a 200-person company?”
Ideally, this incentivizes the experts and closet geniuses to come out of the woodwork and blow the minds of CEOs everywhere with their unique insights.
Just like with all questions on Quora, answers to these sponsored questions are completely public, so everyone benefits — not just the sponsor.
The Quora answer ranking system – upvotes and downvotes – still applies.
When the company sponsoring the question chooses the winning answer, whoever wrote it has the option of keeping the money or donating it to charity (right now the two options are Stand Up To Cancer and GiveDirectly).
Now that is pretty awesome. People…helping people (companies)…helping people.
One big concern
Hopefully this changes moving forward, but as of now sponsors who put up the money and pick the winners are able to remain anonymous.
Why, Quora? This makes zero sense.
What’s stopping Marlboro from anonymously sponsoring the question, “Is smoking really that bad for your health?” and making the answer that says “No” the winner?
What’s stopping me from anonymously sponsoring, “What’s the best startup conference in the entire universe?!” and selecting “Hustle Con, duh!” as the winner?
I could even create a separate Quora profile and write that answer myself, could I not?
Marc Bodnick, who leads Quora’s business team, is aware that anonymity has killed plenty of apps, but vows to “remain vigilant to ensure you can trust Quora to keep Knowledge Prizes clean, even if you don’t know who’s funding them.”
Or just let people know who’s funding them…?
Go home, Marc, you’re drunk.
This could be a game-changer
Aside from this whole anonymity nonsense, I think this is a genius idea.
The internet is full of answers and ideas, but so much knowledge remains offline, locked in our own heads.
Now, Quora’s giving people the incentive they might need to share that knowledge.
Plus, even if the money aspect were to be removed, this is still a product that caters directly to the type of person who frequents the site.
Well, Quora users – up to this point at least – have not been driven by a potential financial reward. Rather, they’ve been motivated by the desire to publicly share their insights and genuinely help a person – or people.
Now that companies will essentially be saying “this is important to us” anytime they decide to sponsor a question, those same users are going to be even more motivated.
Just imagine having the potential to genuinely help your favorite company.
Lyft needs help scaling? I love Lyft! Let’s see if my knowledge in this area can help them.
That’s an awesome feeling, whether or not you’re selected as the winner.
Is this going to replace consulting? Of course not. I was exaggerating.
Can you actually get rich off of this? Not unless you’re writing next-level answers at the same rate that the dude on the left is getting buckets:
But could it help create a “micro-consulting” industry for the future? Absolutely.
Knowledge Prizes is still in beta, but here are a handful of sponsored questions you can answer today:
- What technological changes will create the most opportunities for new startups over the next 2-3 years?
- What does Twitter need to do to restart growth and reactivate its massive dormant user base?
- Will Slack succeed with large enterprises?
Go get that money.