UX is hard: the Quora comments edition

A while ago, I wrote an answer to a question I found interesting on Quora. This was far from the first time - I have written over 200 answers so far:

As it turns out, it looks like a lot of Quora users can't seem to fathom the difference between a question page and an answer page. Here's a short sample of typical comments I received on my answer:

When Quora includes an answer as part of their newsletter, they use the direct link to that answer. This means that users coming in are exposed only to your answer, and not to the question page itself. This has an interesting side effect: most commenters do not seem to understand that there's a difference between the two. Thus I'm exposed to a regular stream of scathing comments from people who assume I asked the question, even though my answer directly contradicts it. Happily enough, other Quorans came to my rescue:

Now I'm not sure what could be done to fix this. Adding a notice asking the commenter "Are you sure this is where you want to post?" would sound paternalistic. Putting two comment input boxes (one for the question, one for the answer) would be downright confusing. Allowing the answer writer to move comments back to the question would be lots of handywork. In short, the problem is real but finding a good solution is tough! Though I'm sure (or at least, I hope) Quora product managers are hard at work on this and will fix it soon... In the meanwhile, I'll keep enjoying the upvotes, and will try not taking the scathing comments for myself :-)

As a side note, here are some interesting things I noticed while writing this article:

  • Content can resonate with an audience a looong time after it was initially published. Even though I wrote the answer more than 18 months ago, only recently did it take a life of its own (when for some reason Quora decided to send it in one of its weekly emails).
  • Out of 1680 upvotes I have received in total, close to half (765) have been received on that one answer.
  • People seem much more likely to add a comment when they disagree than when they agree. I'm left to wonder what would have happened with the old UI, when the downvote button was as prominent as the upvote one!