Here is why.
Two, you don’t know that user actions are based less on rationale and more on emotions. So you don’t know which notification makes a user take action. Ideally, you want them to act on most.
And hence, three, you can’t help a user decide whether to take action, and most importantly, if yes, what and how.
So I did what I have to. I combined first two points above and segregated notifications based on how they make users feel. Plus, which notification makes a user take action. Third point is an implication for you.
Indicates notifications which evoke negative feelings and demand an urgent action.
1. Answer collapse
Nobody feels happy about the answer collapse. Users feel badly hurt when their answer is collapsed. Few even feel as if they are punished for committing a crime. However, as soon as such a notification pops up, it fires a user’s ass. He feels compelled to do something to uncollapse the answer.
However, Quora doesn’t help a user decide what he can do to uncollapse. What policy it violates? How is it violated specifically? What changes do I need to make to appeal? What will happen if the appeal doesn’t go through? Can I appeal again?
People don’t understand the policies because they are not explained in a user-friendly manner. They are explained, well, like policies, on Quora blogs.
At least, inform a user of the consequences of the policy violation. Users get so anxious on seeing an answer collapse, they just don’t know what to do. They feel un-empowered. Highlight the consequences of action taken, or not taken. Something like-
“Your answer will remain hidden until you appeal.”
Also, Quora takes its plagiarism policy seriously and rarely uncollapses the answers which violate it. Though nobody knows about it. Informing user is the key to have a happy user.
“Your answer violates plagiarism policy. It can’t be un-collapsed.”
2. Edits suggested
How do I feel about this edit suggestion? It irates me. It is a waste of my time. Most of the edit suggestions I receive suggest primitive spelling. Labourers for laborers, Often for oft, Jewellery for jewelry, Favourite for favorite. Yet I’ll see it every time I visit my answer until I accept it or discard it. Hence, urgent action needed.
Quora doesn’t help me decide if I should accept it or discard it. The only thing it says is Thank. What does Thank mean? What are the credentials of the user who is suggesting it? Why should I accept his suggestions? Can Quora help me decide if his suggestions are worthwhile?
Shikhar’s edits have been accepted 28 times out of 40.
3. Update credentials
Alright, so good credentials get more views. But what makes a good credential? What changes do I need to make to update my credential? I feel helpless. Nevertheless, I want to act since I want more views.
Can’t you suggest something to take away my helplessness by your advanced algos?
“Here’s a credential better suited to this answer.”
4. Merged questions
Okay, so you decided to merge two questions, and automatically made my one answer disappear from the face of Quora. This doesn’t make me feel hurt, this crushes me. And can you help me understand what is the definition of best answer? Does it has more upvotes? Does it has more views? Comments? Shares? For me, both of my answers are best. And actually, they are.
But Quora decided to show the first answer in the merged question. And made the second one disappear from the face of Quora.
I’d appreciate my involvement in the decision to show or hide my answer. Maybe we could’ve find another home to this answer. “Quora content review is merging these two questions. You can post one of your answers to some other question on Quora.”
Indicates notifications which evoke negative feelings and don’t demand an action. Hence, I have no expectations from Quora to help me decide an action on these items. So no implications.
1. Answer requests
These are the notifications I swipe left before I finish reading them. For the sole reason that they are nowhere close to the type of questions I answer. I feel indifferent to these notifications. I never open them.
2. People I follow upvoted an answer
Again, nothing. Complete indifference. I’m not interested in reading answer to the question I didn’t actively search for. It concerns me little who upvoted it. Left swipe.
3. Some random person upvoted my answer/followed me
Alright, so Quora’s settings can be changed to not make this appear as a notification. But does it make sense to even want them to appear? In today’s times when mobile has invaded so much space in our lives that it’s become impossible to disconnect even for a few minutes, should companies not aim to reduce digital distraction? These notifications seem to encourage distraction.
4. Someone I follow was taking questions
I wouldn’t say this notification generates negative emotions, rather it is neutral. It is nice that these people are sharing their knowledge to other’s benefits, yet I’ve never asked anyone any question on Quora, and maybe Smart Filter can read that.
Indicates notifications which evoke positive feelings, yet don’t demand an action. They feel important. They have my attention. I’d like to check them and know more, yet they don’t provide an action point. There lies a real potential to make them stand out from the noise.
1. Star notifications
My answer was sent in Quora digest- this means free publicity. Feels awesome! This notification makes a perfect entry point to go into the app and spend time, yet there is nothing to take action here.
I received this notification and felt very happy that quite a few of my answers were sent in Quora digest over past few days.
Then I checked all notifications to see which other answers have been sent. And what I saw was surprising.
The same answer was sent twice! This is something that I’d like to know, but never heard anything from Quora which would’ve made me aware.
And that’s exactly something we can solve granting the user an action item at the same time. If I was able to see all such notifications at one place, I’d have known that the same answer appears to be sent twice.
See past such notifications.
2. Answer views
Fair enough. Anything in million feels good. Even thousands of views feel good. But is that a good number? If I get 40,000 views on one of my answers, how do I know that’s a number which a lame answer gets or a rockstar answer gets?
Comparative views help, right? And we don’t need a ton of data here. A comparison with our own answers can tell us a picture.
‘See your answer ranked by views.’
Apparently, this all data is lying on Quora under stats. I know this since long, and although I’m quite an active user, I never check it. This notification may grant a user a good entry point to the same.
I like to read comments. Good or bad, I want to hear what people have to say about my content. When a comments notification pops up on the phone, unfortunately it doesn’t show anything, not even the comment. Yet I take the pain to double click that notification, unlock my phone by entering in pin, and read that comment. Sometimes, I’d go to the answer and read the rest of the comments as well.
A comment makes a perfect entry point for user to take action.
Just saying something like ‘See 50 more comments to this answer’ may work wonders.
Indicates positive emotions and an urgent action. It is empty as of now. Quora has nothing to delight user so much as to demand an urgent action.
Yet I have something.
There is a share button below every answer, yet nobody knows where it shares. There is also an arrow which gives ‘more sharing options.’ Yet I remember there used to be one universal share button earlier by which users can share on a multitude of platforms. I also remember one of my most upvoted answers got 200+ shares and apart from upvotes, this was a number I was constantly tracking.
The point is: People are interested in knowing who is sharing their answer on what platforms. Is my answer getting shared on Fb? On Twitter? On Quora? I’d be delighted to know that other people are posting my answer on their Fb timelines.
I wonder why Quora abstains from giving user such pleasure. Why are sharers not shown? Why is it not shown where is the answer shared? Why won’t anyone like a count of Fb shares or twitter shares?
Showing this will atleast get me to open right away, with absolute delight on my face.
To sum up
Understanding how various features make users feel is the key to connect emotionally with them. There are some social-media-like-things about Quora which make users feel good: Upvotes and Comments. Yet as a platform where users invest time and energy to create good content which Quora shares with the rest of the people so they can better understand the world, there is a need for more pleasure points to user. Points which please them, at the same time make them take an action in the app. This post addresses that.